Stevenage Borough Council is asking local communities to share their views on a proposed new Sports & Leisure Centre for Stevenage. The proposed new facility will bring together the sports and swimming facilities currently provided at Stevenage Arts & Leisure Centre, and Stevenage Swimming Centre.
They will be re-provided in a new state of the art building with a wide range of innovative and exciting services and activities, promoting healthy living and wellbeing for residents.
It is proposed that the facility will encompass swimming, studios and gym space with flexible sports and leisure facilities, with early ideas including the inclusion of a café with access from the Town Centre Gardens.
The design of the facility is in its very early stages and we would like to hear what local communities would like from a new facility for the town. At this stage, the council is asking residents, businesses and visitors to complete a short survey to help us better understand what’s important.
The closing date for completing the survey is Friday 24 November at 3pm. The survey can be found online via https://forms.office.com/e/KCBD8BRtQ0, with hard copies available at various locations including the Stevenage Arts & Leisure Centre (located at the reception to the gym).
Cllr Richard Henry, Leader of Stevenage Borough Council, commented: “This is a really exciting opportunity for our residents to have their say on this proposed new development for the town. The existing sports, health, and wellbeing services provided within Stevenage Arts & Leisure Centre and Stevenage Swimming Centre are well used and the council is looking to future proof these services by replacing them with brand new facilities in the new building, both in terms of provision of services and capacity for the growing town and increased usage”.
The project will be partially funded through the Government’s Towns Fund. The Stevenage Development Board secured £37.5m in March 2021, and a proportion of this will be used for this new facility.
Adrian Hawkins OBE, Chair of the Stevenage Development Board, commented:
“The Stevenage Development Board is an independent group focused on making Stevenage Even Better. We are delighted to see the commencement of our new Sports & Leisure project in Stevenage as we remain certain that this major investment will greatly contribute to improvements in the enjoyment, health and welfare of our residents and the many employees also based within the town and locality.
“The team at the council are working very hard to deliver the many Towns Fund projects and meet the increasing interest in our town from the many UK and overseas organisations. We look forward to your kind assistance in providing feedback so that you can enjoy these facilities even more.”
Cllr Loraine Rossati, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Information Technology, said: “We have a vision for this new facility for the town, and the involvement of our communities is a key part of that vision. This is a new space for everyone to enjoy, and for that to be realised, we need help to shape what we want in a new, state-of-the-art building. This is the start of an extensive process with residents, the local community, businesses and visitors as we work collaboratively to deliver a facility that everyone can use and be proud of.”
Morgan Sindall Construction, who have extensive experience of building leisure facilities, have been appointed to help deliver the Sports & Leisure Hub. The upgraded facility will be managed by Everyone Active, a specialist leisure operator who operate the council’s leisure facilities within the town.
Emma Curtis, Area Director at Morgan Sindall, commented: “With previous experience in the leisure sector, we understand the value of community leisure facilities and just how much they can act as a springboard for both improved physical and mental health.
“The new sports and leisure hub will be a new focal point for the town and this opportunity will allow us to engage positively with Stevenage residents by offering both employment and apprenticeship opportunities.
“We are very proud to be working alongside Stevenage Borough Council to deliver its transformational regeneration plans and are excited to receive your feedback on what you’d like to see at your new sports and leisure hub.”
Allan Prescott, Everyone Active contract manager, said: “We are excited to be a part of this transformative project in Stevenage. The needs of residents are ever evolving and it is important that we deliver a top-notch facility that caters to the needs and aspirations of the local residents. I would urge everyone to get involved in this consultation to help shape the plans.”
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: What is the new Sports & Leisure Hub?
The proposed new Sports & Leisure Hub is a modern state of the art leisure facility that will encompass swimming, studios, gym space, flexible sports and leisure facilities, consolidating the sports, leisure and swimming facilities currently being provided at different locations to one new, purpose-built leisure facility.
The design of the facility is in its infancy and the council is committed to working alongside the local community on a facility that will offer something for everyone.
Q; What will the new facility include?
The new Sports & Leisure Hub will incorporate facilities including swimming, studios, gym, a sports hall, and flexible sports and leisure facilities. The venue will encompass more than just sports, becoming a place for leisure, and an additional focal point for the town. The proposals include the inclusion of a café which will be accessible to people using the Town Centre Gardens.
The Leisure Hub will be innovative and with cutting edge designs providing a wide range of diverse facilities and services to ensure that whole community will be able to take full advantage of the centre’s offerings in a comfortable, safe, accessible, and modern environment.
Q: How will it be different to our current facilities?
The proposals would see wet and dry facilities available under one roof, whereas they are currently split across two different locations. The facilities would be modern and fit-for-purpose, future proofing the facility and ensuring that those using this have access to clean and high quality areas for health, wellbeing, leisure and sports.
Q: Who will manage the facility?
The new leisure facility will be managed by Everyone Active, a specialist leisure operator who already run services in the town. Everyone Active manage over 200 leisure facilities in the UK and work with over 60 local authorities.
Q: Why is it needed?
The existing sports and leisure centre facilities, including the current swimming pool, are well used but were designed and built in the 1960’s and 70’s. By combining leisure and sports facilities we will not only have a much better, high quality facility services on one site, but also a highly improved customer experience, lower maintenance costs, more efficient use of space and a significant reduction in our carbon footprint.
Q: When will it be opening?
The council and its delivery partners are at the very early stages of this journey. There are several more stages to go through including further opportunities for residents, communities, and businesses to have their say, prior to a planning application being submitted.
Should the application be granted permission, then there will be further preparatory work ahead of construction beginning.
Q: What will happen to the empty spaces at the Arts & Leisure Centre when the new leisure facility is built?
The council will work with Everyone Active and other key stakeholders during the period of the new leisure hub development to consider alternative options for the use of the space vacated by the existing services.
Q: When can I see the plans?
This is the start of an extensive co-production process with residents, the local community, schools and businesses as we work collaboratively to deliver a facility that everyone can use and be proud of. At this current stage, we do not have any design plans to show, and we are asking for feedback on what people would like to see from a new facility and services provided, as opposed to designs. The feedback we receive will be used to shape the look and feel of the facility. The local authority is committed to providing a facility which can be enjoyed by all.
Q: What will happen to the other services that operate in the existing building when the new building opens?
The majority of leisure, sport, health and wellbeing services will be transferred to the new and enhanced by improved facilities and additional services. The theatre will remain whilst future options will be considered.
Q: What will happen to the Gordon Craig Theatre?
The council is committed to retaining a theatre within Stevenage Town Centre. The Gordon Craig Theatre will continue to operate as normal during the development of the new Leisure Hub, but the council will continue to look at future alternative options for the theatre as an integral part for the regeneration of the town.
Q: Who is paying for this?
The project is being funded partly through Towns Fund, using some of the £37.5m awarded in March 2021. The Council is currently developing a funding strategy including working with the government and government bodies on further national funding for the facility alongside any Council funding.