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Ship in a bottle

In an impressive feat of construction engineering, a 25m swimming pool and spa has been built within the existing structure of a sports hall.

Alliance Leisure

This is the first time a project of this kind has been successfully executed in the UK and forms part of the £7.4m refurbishment and extension of Monmouth Leisure Centre for Monmouthshire County Council in South Wales.

Opened in 2000, the centre was dated and in need of renovation. The project aimed to future-proof the centre’s facilities while meeting demand in under-represented markets in the area such as health and wellbeing and children’s play.

Delivered by Alliance Leisure Services as part of the UK Leisure Framework, the multi-phased project has enabled the council to provide a raft of new facilities for the town including a new 60-station gym, exercise and group cycling studios, a toning suite, children’s play area and cafe in the most cost-effective way.

Monmouth has been without a public swimming pool for some years. To meet local demand for swimming, the development also includes a new 25m swimming pool and spa.

Hugely challenging

The leisure centre shares its site and some of its facilities with Monmouth Comprehensive School. At the time of the redevelopment, a new school was being built to the left of the leisure centre. With the existing school sitting to the right of the centre, the only place to put the pool was in the leisure centre’s sports hall.

“Squeezing the swimming pool into the sports hall was the only way we could provide the wide range of facilities required by Monmouth County Council to meet local need. This created a host of challenges equating to the construction industry’s equivalent of squeezing a ship into a bottle, but the results are amazing,” says Julia Goddard, Senior Business Development Manager at Alliance Leisure.

“Procuring the project through the UK Leisure Framework resulted in major efficiencies to the build process and allowed us to work with our trusted partners ISG to develop an innovative solution for this incredibly complicated project.”

The combination of the location of the leisure centre between the old and new schools, just one access road into the site and 2000 pupils passing the live construction site every hour made the logistics of the project hugely challenging.

Before work could begin on the pool, principle build contractor ISG had to erect a temporary sports hall to accommodate the needs of the school and community while the project was ongoing.

Having built temporary facilities for the London 2012 Olympics, ISG constructed a high spec sports hall in six weeks. The four-court hall was bigger and better than its permanent predecessor, complete with a Junkers sprung floor, changing facilities, toilets, level access, heating and air conditioning.

Preparing the existing sports hall for its new use proved another challenge. A single narrow strip – a mere 1.5m at its thinnest point – provided the only access to the hall. The team had to remove a section of the elevation to get the necessary piling equipment and plant machinery into the building to facilitate the work.

The building was stripped back to its shell and treated with spray-on insulation to protect and seal the hall and prevent any impact onto the adjoining dry site. ISG worked with Alliance to develop innovative solutions to a number of challenges caused by the logistical constraints of the site.

Monmouth has soft ground as well as a high water table, which called for some innovative temporary works solutions and creative piling designs to support the new swimming pool.

The fulfilment of a promise

The project was funded by a combination of local project developments and borrowing. Built to ASA standards, the 25m, five-lane pool occupies most of the hall. However, the building also had to accommodate a spa comprising an eight person sauna, eight person steam room and six person spa bath. ISG worked with Alliance Leisure to redesign the spa area to make better use of the space and include a treatment room.

“It’s a very great pleasure and privilege to celebrate a successful project three years in the making. At a time when other councils were closing leisure centres, we committed to this new modern facility and we now see the fulfilment of our promise to the people of Monmouth and the surrounding areas,” said Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for leisure.

“Members of the leisure centre’s staff have demonstrated faith in a time of uncertainty, but they can now look forward to a bright future. I’d also like to recognise the contribution of development specialist Alliance Leisure which has supported the council throughout the project and the ISG construction services company for its wonderful work here in Monmouth.”

Contact Alliance Leisure

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