An extensive refurbishment of Selwyn Jones Sports Centre, to the tune of £4.2m, was approved by councillors at a meeting of St Helens Council’s Cabinet yesterday afternoon (Wednesday 24th October).
The scheme, which will transform the centre in to a modern, dynamic sports facility, will see a complete over-haul of the whole interior of the sports centre, with the creation of a mezzanine floor within the sports hall to increase the overall floor area.
This will allow for the inclusion of an adventure play area for under 11’s with three party rooms, and a split level fitness suite with 90 exercise stations. The existing fitness suite will be converted into a multi-functional exercise studio, and an Immersive Exercise Bike Studio will also be created giving the centre two dedicated studio spaces. A coffee shop and café will also be included and all other remaining areas of the building renovated.
In addition, Sports England has provided funding to improve pool and fitness suite access for people with a disability, which will allow for the development of the changing areas into a ‘Village Change’ and the redecoration of the pool balcony. The outdoor pitch changing rooms will also be refurbished.
After failures in the heating and ventilation systems, a decision was also approved at Cabinet to replace the existing operating system with a more modern, efficient one.
The planned makeover follows on from an initial scheme, approved by councillors in December 2016, to improve changing facilities and make a modest increase to the size of the fitness suite. However, following a further review, a decision was taken to drastically improve the facilities on offer. This was based on the lack of similar leisure facilities in the area, an increase in demand – both in population and in popularity of leisure, health and wellbeing activities, and its ability to generate increased income from an enhanced offer.
The investment will see the centre transformed in to a modern, dynamic facility, offering the best health and fitness activities locally, and aiming to get more people, more active, more often.
In order to finance the enhanced refurbishment of the centre, the council will prudentially borrow £3.9m, which it estimates will be covered by an increased income. An enhanced funding grant from Sports England of £335,000 has also been confirmed.
It is estimated that the full refurbishment of the centre will be phased over a 46-week period, which will commence after Christmas.
Every effort will be made to keep leisure facilities open to the public, with access to the pool area maintained for the majority of the construction phase, and newly refurbished areas reopening as each phase is completed. Clubs and groups displaced by the work have already been supported to find alternative venues when the work commences.
Councillor Anthony Burns, St Helens Council’s portfolio holder for leisure, said “We are delighted to be able to confirm our commitment to deliver a high quality, modern leisure facility. Not only will this be of benefit to the residents of Newton-le-Willows, Earlestown and Haydock, but due to its location and appeal, it will be an attractive venue for residents across the borough and beyond.
“We are committed to getting more people, more active, more often – especially families, young people, older people and those who are overweight, and these new facilities will help encourage all to get fitter and healthier whilst having fun.
“The centre will see a new split level, state-of-the-art fitness suite, new multi-functional exercise and cycling studios, a “village style” pool changing area, an adventure play area, party rooms and new café providing young families with a great place to relax and enjoy.
“This investment will create a sports centre and facilities that will be a pleasure to use and a real asset to local people long in to the future.”
St Helens Council Leader, Derek Long, said: “Our £4.2m investment demonstrates the commitment of St Helens Council to the people of Newton-le-Willows, Earlestown and Haydock”.
Conor McGinn, MP for St Helens North, said: “This is welcome news for my constituents in Newton-le-Willows and across the borough. Despite the financial pressures faced, This major investment in the sports centre is another example of the council’s ambition to improve local facilities and job prospects for local residents.”