New leisure centre won’t be smaller, insists Altair developer

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The company behind the Altair regeneration scheme has denied that the proposed new leisure centre will be smaller than the current one.

Nick Payne, managing director of Nikal Developments, also said the developers were pushing for a “spa-type offering” and that yoga would form a part of the scheme.

There had been suggestions that the size of the main pool at the new leisure centre would be halved under the £150m Altair plans, a claim denied recently by Trafford Community Leisure Trust.

Nick Payne, MD of Nikal
Nick Payne, MD of Nikal

And now Payne has confirmed that although discussions over “size, format and cost” were still taking place, there would definitely be a “very strong swimming element” to Altrincham’s new community leisure centre.

“The agreement has been that whatever happens, it must replicate what they’ve got there in terms of size,” he said.

“Then it’s about whether we can improve the facilities. Things like the gymnasium – can we improve the position and the size? Yes we can. Can we have a spa-type offering? Yes we can provide a spa.

“Currently, there will be two pools and the main pool is exactly the same size, so there is a very strong swimming element.”

Payne did say however that leisure centre facilities could be supplemented by “add-ons” elsewhere in the site.

He added: “In an ideal world we would like to make it a lot bigger than the current facility, but that does require utilising some of the existing leisure centre site so it may be that we might replace the current services with some add-ons on Altair, and then add further facilities on the existing leisure centre site.”

One issue, added Payne, related to whether to continue to offer two squash courts, as the centre currently does.

“One of the things we have argued about is the squash – do we provide two squash courts or don’t we, and that’s still in the ether at the moment. The problem with squash is that it tends to be an early evening activity, so you build two big boxes that get used for about four hours a day.” Payne did add though that as a former player he was keen to find a way to include the sport within multi-purpose spaces.

The existing centre was “hugely uneconomical”, he added. “It’s very diverse in terms of it being a community facility and we want to bring that bang up to date, so that when people come to Altrincham they can enjoy a really fantastic facility. We can make the facilities better and bigger and more efficient.”

The new centre will take 12 months to build plus a period of time for fit-out, Payne added, with a “seamless transfer” between the old and the new. “My ideal scenario is that we build the leisure centre, demolish the old one and put car parking on it in the short term to subsidise the loss of car parking from building the bulk of the Altair scheme.”

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