Sands Centre Ext

Carlisle resurrects plans for £19m leisure facility

The process of procuring a contractor for the £19m redevelopment of the Sands Centre is set to begin, after a reappraisal and reworking of the proposals which were first mooted in 2009.

Carlisle City Council’s executive will next week be asked to approve the progress of the centre’s rebuild to full council, which will start the process of procuring a contractor for the long-awaited scheme.

The replacement of the city’s James Street pools and expansion of the Sands Centre, which is an entertainments hall also used for sports, is a key element of the city’s sports facilities strategy. It was previously proposed in 2009 before falling victim to the downfall of the Northwest Regional Development Agency and the withdrawal of a capital contribution from the University of Cumbria.

The council has been in dialogue with Sport England since 2015, with the sports body engaging Abacus Cost Management to advise on options. The preferred option of two was for a £14.5m plan including two pools, changing facilities, a café, sports hall and health & fitness provision to be built at the Sands, with the possibility, still live, that the facility could also include an NHS physiotherapy suite. The events centre at the Sands will be retained and improved as part of the project.

Sands Plan 2

Cameron Consulting ran a tender to assemble a multi-disciplinary design team, which includes GT3 Architects as lead; CJ Consilium as principal designer, Buro Happold on civil, structural and M&E engineering and flood risk consultancy, OOBE as landscape architect and Pace as acoustic consultant.

Pick Everard is the employer’s agent and has reappraised the likely cost of the scheme at slightly less than £19.5m. The council could secure a contribution of up to £2m from Sport England, which identified leisure provision in Carlisle as a priority in the wake of the Cumbria floods, leaving it with a need to borrow £17.4m.

Either the North West Construction Hub or the Scape National Construction Framework could be used to procure the project.

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