Running machines

New council owned leisure facility in Norfolk to open early due to pandemic

North Norfolk District Council is seeking to take advantage of the current closure of leisure centres due to the Covid-19 pandemic by bringing forward the completion of a new council owned facility in Sheringham.

The uncertainty surrounding the date of the reopening of leisure centres in England, as well as the inevitable timescale before they can operate at full capacity, has made North Norfolk District Council take action.

They have concluded that the hiatus should be used to speed up the completion of the new Sheringham Leisure Centre by demolishing the Splash Leisure Centre earlier than had originally been intended.

Excellent progress has been made on the new development, despite the many interruptions of the past year and the new building is scheduled for completion in August.

However, the demolition of the Splash had not originally been scheduled until after the new centre had opened, in order to provide continuity for users, which would have meant that the car park and landscaping would not have been completed until the end of November 2021.

Reprogramming the works so that the demolition can take place in parallel with the completion of the new building will save several months on the current plan and the council has decided to fast-track the completion of the new leisure centre, so that the whole site, including the car park, will be open to local people and visitors this summer.

It has been decided that the costs and the resources needed to remobilise the facility after the current lockdown is not justified for the short period for it would likely have been able to open and the reduced capacity it would have been operating under.

The building’s running costs for the four-month period (were it to operate from April to July) would amount to about £51,000, while the costs of remobilising the building would equate to about £6,500. 

The new Sheringham Leisure Centre has been designed to Sport England’s accessibility standards to ensure as many people as possible can access the wide mix of facilities, which includes a six lane, 25m main pool, a 13m x 8m learner pool with moveable floor, a splash pad with water play features and two community rooms for flexible use.

There will also be a café area on the ground floor with spectator viewing into the pool, while upstairs there will be a fifty-station health and fitness suite, a dance/activities studio covering 200sqm and a spinning studio at 96sqm.

The new leisure centre has been designed to be highly energy efficient, with state-of-the-art windows and doors to prevent heat loss and high-performance insulation for hot water pipework, as well as ‘presence/absence detection’ lights for areas with limited use.

As well as this, it incorporates renewable energy systems, such as solar thermal collectors for water heating and air source heat pumps.

Commenting, North Norfolk District Council’s Cabinet Member and Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Wellbeing and Culture, Councillor Virginia Gay said:

“Getting the new leisure centre all completed in time for the main summer season would be a fantastic way of celebrating the hopeful return to normality after such a long period of time.

“Maintaining the provision of swimming, sport and fitness facilities at the Splash site has been a priority for the council since the inception of the new leisure centre. The new facility was designed to be built at the front of the Splash site in order to ensure there was continual access to such facilities for local people.

“That approach, however, did mean that the car parking provision for the new centre would be compromised for the first few months of its operation, but this was considered to be a worthy sacrifice to avoid a temporary loss of this valuable asset.

“Given that the Splash now seems unlikely to be used to any great extent during the run up to the completion of the new leisure centre, it makes perfect sense to make best use of that time to bring forward the completion date.”

The Splash Tropical Leisure Pool was opened on 11 May 1988 by Diana, Princess of Wales and the commemorative plaque marking that event has been removed from the building and will be presented to Sheringham Museum.

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