The first new leisure centre to be built in Dudley in more than 30 years opened to the public in January. Here, Alliance Leisure Services (ALS) talks to Public Sector Build Journal about the improved sports and leisure facilities as part of a wider regeneration for the town.
Developed in partnership with ALS, the £18m Duncan Edwards Leisure Centre forms part of the near £1bn Dudley regeneration programme, which is set to transform the town centre over the next decade. The scheme also includes a new transport interchange; an extension to the Metro line; a mixed retail, leisure and residential hub as well as a multi-million-pound revamp of Halesowen Leisure Centre and improvements to Crystal Leisure Centre in Stourbridge.
The new Duncan Edwards Leisure Centre is located on Constitution Hill and is approximately one mile from the former Dudley Leisure Centre, which closed in January. ALS and contractor ISG worked throughout the height of the pandemic to develop the new leisure centre meeting the logistical demands of operating a safe site during COVID-19, while also overcoming the unique challenges presented by the site itself. These included poor ground conditions with voids and coal and extensive works to seal an abandoned well uncovered on the site.
The centre is named in honour of the borough’s most famous sporting son – the former England and Manchester United player, Duncan Edwards, who was born and raised in the town. It offers a 25m, eight-lane swimming pool and a teaching pool with spectator provision. A four-court sports hall is suitable for indoor football, badminton and more, while other facilities include a 100-station gym and fitness suite, two group exercise studios and the first immersive cycle studio in the area.
A wellness suite featuring power-assisted equipment from Shapemaster provides specialist support for those recovering from injury, older customers and those living with long-term health conditions.
For families with younger children, there is a soft play area with dedicated catering as well as a party room, in addition to cafe for all users of the centre.
Solar panels have been installed on the roof of the centre, which are estimated to save the local authority more than £250,000 in energy costs over the next quarter of a century.
“Duncan Edwards Leisure Centre marks a new era in our leisure offer; this building is exceptional and we have already welcomed more than 1000 users into the facility. It is complemented by the major redevelopments of Halesowen and Crystal leisure centres,” said Councillor Simon Phipps, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise.
“The centre will be in close proximity to the new Metro line that is currently under construction, enabling people to connect to the local and national rail line. Timing for the centre is also fantastic, with a number of college and university campuses currently being developed in the town.
“I would like to thank everyone who has played a part in creating this new facility. It’s something for us all to be proud of and shows the regeneration of Dudley is moving in the right direction. It’s now over to the public to try the centre out for themselves and see why we’re so excited to finally open its doors.”
ALS has also refurbished Crystal Leisure Centre and is currently working on the second phase of the multi-million-pound redevelopment of Halesowen Leisure Centre as part of Dudley’s regeneration scheme. All projects are being delivered via the UK Leisure Framework which is managed by Denbighshire Leisure.
The first phase of the Halesowen redevelopment included an extension to the gym along with new equipment, ranging from traditional treadmills, bikes, crosstrainers and stepping machines to more advanced self-motorised curved treadmills and power lifting equipment. The centre has also benefitted from a new wellness suite with power-assisted gym equipment and a new soft play area for younger visitors, which has been innovatively created in the spaced previously occupied by the learner pool. A new cafe and remodelling works to the centre entrance complete the first phase of the development.
Phase two includes major improvements to the swimming pool and changing areas. Measuring 33m, the pool is being transformed into two pools – a standard 25m swimming pool and a learner pool. Meanwhile, the current changing facilities are being removed and replaced with a changing village, with all works expected to be complete by the summer.
“We are delighted to see Duncan Edwards Leisure Centre come to life with an inclusive mix of facilities and services that meet local strategic outcomes and the needs of the community,” said Julia Goddard, Senior Business Development Manager at Alliance Leisure.
“Along with our work at Halesowen and Crystal leisure centres, these new and regenerated centres will dramatically improve the quality of sport and physical activity provision in Dudley to help encourage more people to adopt healthy lifestyles as the town pushes ahead with its ambitious regeneration programme.”