The contractor is set to sign a £19m deal to deliver the leisure centre in Carlisle, with the project on course to begin in the coming months around 10 years after it was first put forward.
The project focusses on the replacement of the city’s James Street pools and expansion of the Sands Centre, which is an entertainments hall also used for sports. 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 plans will see nearly 40,000 sq ft added to the building, which will more than double the floorspace of the existing leisure facilities. Wates has been brought on board as contractor via Scape’s Major Works Framework, where it is the sole contractor for jobs between £10m and £50m.
The new facilities will include a reception area, a four-court sports hall, a 25m eight-lane swimming pool, a 20m learner pool, wet and dry changing facilities, a 120-station fitness suite, studios, a café, bar, and a physiotherapy suite.
Existing facilities, including a climbing wall and squash court, will be lost as part of the redevelopment; the council said both facilities did not have enough demand and there were alternative facilities nearby, including the Eden Rock bouldering centre at the Durranhill Industrial Estate.
A total of 231 car parking spaces will be provided, a loss of 63 spaces compared to the site’s previous offering.
The design team on the project 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.
The scheme was given the go-ahead by Carlisle’s planning committee in November last year, although there had been some objections from Carlisle Flood Action Group. The centre was flooded in 2015 along with large areas of the town after Storm Desmond, and the Flood Action Group argued the redevelopment of the centre “could make any future flooding worse”.
The council is set to discuss the flooding issue again at a meeting next week, where it will reiterate its view that the site remains the most suitable in the borough for leisure facilities, with other options proving to be unviable.
Subject to final approval from the council’s executive, work is set to get under way in late spring, and the project is likely to complete by the end of 2020.