May 01, 2017 Last Updated 10:20 AM, Apr 28, 2017

Fit for purpose leisure centres

Published in Leisure
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Across the country, local authorities have accepted a need to raise their game when it comes to leisure centres if they are to benefit from contemporary lifestyle choices, encourage local participation in sports and leisure and build their share of the fitness market.

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Such improvements must be targeted and take account of current private sector leisure trends if they are to win back customers from the private sector. The impetus is not all about payback periods for the capital investment or generating revenue from leisure facilities, however. While these financial considerations are certainly factors and the facilities need to earn their keep, community engagement and access to fitness for everyone are also essential elements of local authority leisure centre upgrade programmes.

That cost/benefits equation calls for a best value approach to sustainable design and a clear focus on creating facilities that will optimise the service life of the building while widening user demographics.

It’s a challenging proposition, and one that has been answered successfully by Cleethorpes Leisure Centre.

Times for change

Sitting on the seafront in the popular Lincolnshire resort town, Cleethorpes Leisure Centre is a striking 1980s building with full height windows that maximise the views of the shoreline.

The facilities had always been operated by North East Lincolnshire Council’s outsourcing partner and had never undergone any significant refurbishment work but, in 2012, all the Council’s leisure assets were transferred to ‘Lincs Inspire’, a specially formed operating company with a board made up largely of councillors.

The funding bid successfully raised 50% of the cost of revamping the changing facilities and was scheduled to go ahead, requiring a four-month shut down. However, with the exterior showing signs of wear and tear, leaks from the roof causing damage to the ceiling tiles and a dated ‘Club Tropicana’ style pool area, it was clear that further works to Cleethorpes Leisure Centre would be required within the foreseeable future. As a result, the decision was taken to combine the changing rooms scheme with a more comprehensive leisure centre-wide refurbishment to enhance the facilities and improve the fabric of the building in a single shut down period. This not only saved costs and disruption by combining all the works into a single £2m project, it also secured the long term viability of the building, extending its service life.

External improvements

Designed by the Council’s architectural services partner, Cofely and delivered by main contractor, Gelder, the resulting six-month programme, involved both internal and external refurbishment to improve the fabric of the building, update the interior design and layout and maximise the appeal of its seafront location.

Jon Wilcox from NE Lincolnshire Council explains: “The 5000m² roof was a major area of concern because water ingress had already started to discolour some of the ceiling tiles in the pool area so it was affecting both the internal environment and showing evidence of failure. We needed a system that could be installed quickly without the need for a strip out of the existing roofing materials. The chosen system also had to be able to withstand the marine environment, strong winds and high levels of UV that the leisure centre is subject to in its coastal location: Kemper System’s Kemperol V210 cold liquid-applied system was ideal.”

The roof was cleaned and prepared and the Kemperol V210 waterproofing system was then applied on top of the existing failed asphalt roof. Applied wet-on-wet in a single process, the Kemperol resin saturates a polyester reinforcement fleece – manufactured using a recycled plastic bottle content. The fleece is laid into the wet resin with more resin applied on top. It is then rollered to ensure complete saturation and to remove any air bubbles or creases, before the system is left to cure to form a seamless durable, UV stable, monolithic membrane that bonds directly to the substrate.

The leisure centre’s external cladding was also replaced with a new, hardwearing system and feature lighting was introduced in the eaves of the roof to enable Lincs Inspire to light up the building in mood colours during the evening.

Poolside upgrade

The new changing facilities that were the original trigger for the whole project were created by reconfiguring the space in the existing changing room areas to create a communal changing village. While the former single sex arrangement had made changing difficult for lone parents with children of the opposite gender, the new changing village features individual and family rooms along with the required toilet, shower and disabled access provision.

The M&E services were also upgraded to support the changes to the building and improve the leisure centre, creating a more comfortable and family-friendly environment.

Jon continues: “In the past, the air temperature had been good in the poolside areas but the changing areas had rarely been warm enough, so more efficient HVAC systems were installed to provide a suitable temperature throughout the leisure centre.”

The poolside itself was also a key focus for improvement. The original fit out included a palm tree which obscured the view of the coastline through the centre’s panoramic windows and looked very dated. The original fit out had also included a water slide that exited the building and came back inside again, and this had been closed for some time for safety reasons.

The palm tree has been replaced by an Art Deco-style statue which creates interest in the pool area without blocking the view. The slide, meanwhile, has been replaced by a new 34m indoor-only slide, creating a family-friendly attraction in the leisure pool which is both safer and easier to maintain. The general poolside area has also been upgraded, including replacement of the floor tiles with a durable, anti-slip resin floor and new feature lighting.

Jon continues: “The pool itself was not altered but had to remain full while the poolside works were carried out because of the level of flex that could have caused damage to new floor and wall finishes if the weight of all that water was introduced after the refurbishment was completed.”

Aspirational aspect

The leisure centre is now completed and welcoming users once again. Thanks to the de-cluttered internal spaces it also provides great views of the seafront.

Jon adds: “The whole concept was to create a visual synergy between the beach outside and the pool inside. NE Lincs Council has worked hard to ensure Cleethorpes has a clean beach and excellent water quality and this refurbishment can be seen as an extension of that commitment to creating sustainable environments to serve the leisure requirements of both residents and visitors.”

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