Council buys Aldi site for leisure centre

Oldham Council has revealed the site of its new leisure facility for the town centre, set to open in 2014. The local authority has exchanged contracts to buy the Aldi food store in Eagle Street and Manchester Street.

The new leisure centre will contain a 25-metre, eight-lane swimming pool, a learner pool, fitness gym, sports hall; indoor bowling hall plus two dance studios and a café. Aldi will vacate the site when its new premises open in Chadderton Way, Westwood later this year.

The existing property, built in 1989, will be demolished and the site cleared in preparation for the new development. The new leisure facility will replace the existing Oldham Sports Centre in 2014. The Lord Street site will only close once its replacement opens: ensuring no 'break in service' to residents.

Willmott Dixon has been selected following a procurement process to build the new facility, maintaining a strong record in Oldham. Earlier this year the contractor was selected to build three academy schools in the town. The Hollinwood-based firm has since worked with the council to ensure opportunities for local companies, adults and young people have been maximised on those schemes.

Cllr Hugh McDonald, cabinet member for education and safeguarding, said: "The purchase of this site is excellent news and a very important step in our plans to transform leisure facilities for residents.

"This site stood out and has always been our preferred venue for a new town centre venue for several reasons.

"It offers an excellent central location with good transport links – including easy future Metrolink access- and as Oldham Council also owns the former Cannon Street Health Centre site adjacent to this, it gives us a bigger area to work with.

"Crucially, this can also act as a physical bridge to link the Oldham College to Oldham Sixth Form College as part of our wider regeneration vision to have a coherent campus site with first-class facilities.

"We've worked co-operatively alongside Aldi on this and the acquisition is also good news from a business point of view. The store is now relocating to Chadderton Way but will remain firmly within the Borough and is moving to a larger site with more potential job opportunities for local people."

Anthony Dillon, Willmott Dixon's Northern managing director, said: "We are delighted to be working with Oldham Council to deliver this fantastic facility that the whole community can benefit from and contributes to the on-going regeneration of the town.

"As with the academies projects we will be working closely with the council to ensure the maximum economic impact for the people and businesses of Oldham."

A separate process is also well underway to negotiate a new contract to manage the borough's leisure facilities from 2013.

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