Hugh McDonald

Cabinet to decide facility mix at leisure centres

David McCourt

Oldham Council is set to consider final proposals for sporting facilities at two new-build leisure centres in Oldham and Royton town centres.

The local authority has been reviewing its leisure estate following public consultation.

Earlier this month a ten-year operating contract was awarded to Oldham Community Leisure.

The future leisure estate will include a new flagship facility in Oldham town centre at Manchester Street and Cannon Street, to replace the existing Oldham Sports Centre.

A new facility is also being built in Royton town centre.

Baseline specifications were approved in March 2012, but officers were asked to further consider the potential mix of amenities and range of uses at each site.

A report outlining the findings goes before a cabinet meeting on Monday 22 April.

If approved, the Oldham town centre facility would include:

  • A 25-metre eight-lane swimming pool of county-level competition standard with associated spectator seating and facilities
  • A learner pool, up to 150 square metres in size
  • An eight court sports hall
  • A four-lane indoor bowls hall
  • An 80-station gym and fitness suite
  • Two group exercise and dance studios
  • On-site café

The Royton facility would include:

  • A 25-metre six-lane swimming pool
  • A learner pool, up to 150 square metres in size
  • An 80-station gym and fitness suite
  • Two group exercise and dance studios

Cllr Hugh McDonald, cabinet member for education and safeguarding, said: "For the first time an Oldham facility will have the correct specifications to attract major regional competitions in popular sports like netball, basketball and handball. It would also be able to host much larger events than ever before, like Sky Sports boxing, and put us on the national sporting map.

The cabinet report outlines the pros and cons of other options that were considered for the Oldham facility, including bigger size swimming and learner pools, and a learner pool with moveable floor, offering deep water for diving.

It also recommends that removing a climbing wall as alternative provision is now available nearby at Mahdlo Youth Zone. OCL also operates a mobile climbing wall.

No significant changes are proposed to the original Royton facility specification, although a café option was removed after consultation with local traders.

Cllr McDonald added: "An eight court sports hall was the outstanding option to give Oldham the unique sporting offer that we sought. It offers the very best value for money for council taxpayers at a time when we also have to find additional budget savings of £7.5m after a reduced settlement from government.

"Other options were not agreed for a range of reasons when we weighed up the capital and revenue costs with unproven or low level demand."

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