Work starts on combined fire station leisure centre

Work has started on a sports centre and fire station to be created in the same building in Toxteth, Liverpool, after a grant was approved by the Big Lottery Fund.

The £4.8m project received a grant for £2.3m from the lottery's MyPlace scheme, as well as £2m investment from Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service and £500,000 from Liverpool City Council.

The Big Lottery Fund approved in principle the grant prior to the General Election last year but the confirmation was put on hold as projects across the country were reviewed.

Work involves demolishing Toxteth Sports Centre and relocating Toxteth Fire Station to the Upper Hill Street site which will be known as Toxteth Firefit.

Along with the fire station, the facility, designed by architects Cass Associates, will include community meeting rooms, dance studio, fitness gym and the community, combat sports room, table tennis studio, climbing wall, sports hall, craft room and a community kitchen.

Cllr Dave Hanratty, vice chairman of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority, said: "This is a unique project that will give the community a really modern, exciting facility. The grant from MyPlace was a major milestone in making it happen and we're now looking forward to seeing the new centre take shape.

"There is a clear connection between fire risk and health and fitness which is why we have been working with health providers to promote healthy lifestyles. A Fire Fit hub like this would be a really valuable way for us developing this further."

The council said it has already built a partnership with the fire service to provide leisure facilities by equipping fire stations with fitness suites for community use.

With the Fire Authority planning to invest in the fire station at Toxteth to give it a refurbishment and the council looking at rebuilding the leisure centre, the two organisations saw a way of continuing their partnership by working together through creating Toxteth Firefit.

Work is expected to be completed on the new facility in summer 2012.

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