Halton Leisure Centre Halton Council p planning

Ellis Williams designed the future Halton Leisure Centre. Credit: via planning documents

Work to start on Halton Leisure Centre as price jumps to £31m

With an eye towards a January 2025 opening, main contractor Wates Construction is set to begin enabling works for the facility in December.

When complete, the 50,000 sq ft Halton Leisure Centre will have a 100-station gym, sports hall, squash court, health consultation rooms, café, and a six-lane swimming pool.

The Ellis Williams-designed centre would have parking for more than 150 cars, including five electric vehicle charging points and the capacity to add up to 15 more.

Plans for the Halton Leisure Centre were approved in November 2020, but construction was delayed to the pandemic and the need for a compulsory purchase order.

During that time, the price tag for the centre grew from £20m to £31m.

Halton Council confirmed to the Liverpool Echo that Wates’ contract for the facility is nearly £29m. The council cited changes in design for heating and electricity, Brexit, Covid, inflation, and rising costs of materials as reasons for the increase.

The additional £2m comes from the costs related to the CPO and highway improvements.

In terms of the energy and heating design changes, the new design replaces the old gas-fired boilers with air-source heat pumps. Halton Leisure Centre is now meant ot connect to a solar farm off Dundalk Road, so that its energy comes from renewable power.

When finished, the two-storey Halton Leisure Centre will sit off Moor Lane in Widnes. The facility will serve as a replacement for Kingsway Leisure Centre.

Cllr Dave Thompson, deputy leader and portfolio holder for major projects at Halton Council, said he was looking forward to the completion of Halton Leisure Centre.

“The creation of this modern, attractive building on the Moor Lane site will enhance the area and bring extra activity and footfall and act as a catalyst for the future regeneration of the area,” Thompson said.

Dave Saville, regional managing director for Wates Construction North, said: “Leisure centres are integral to supporting the long-term wellbeing of a community and upgrading older facilities is essential to keeping them accessible for all.

“We’ve carefully designed Halton Leisure Centre to provide the best experience for end users, as well as prioritised sustainability and state-of-the-art technology, effectively futureproofing the hub for years to come.”

Wates estimates that constructing the leisure centre will create 10 jobs as well as 10 apprenticeship opportunities and 55 work experience placements.

Halton Council is not alone in having project costs rise over the past year. An increase in costs led Knowsley Council to pause its plans for a cinema in Kirkby. Similarly, Salford Council had to freeze its plans to build a leisure centre in Pendleton.

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So in 2 years the price tag increased by approx 55%…surprised that didn’t blow a hole in the business plan.

By Anon

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