[dropcap type=”circle”]Trafford Council will decide whether or not to approve a new £22m leisure centre in Altrincham at a meeting next Monday.
The current leisure centre on Oakfield Road is considered to be in such an “extremely poor” condition that it is having a material impact on users, particularly given the competitive local gym market.
A new £10m leisure centre was initially included in the Altair redevelopment plans but after realising that it would cost considerably more than expected – and while Altair’s plans suffer further delays – Trafford Council has decided to take it out of the scheme and develop the centre itself.
If given the go-ahead next week, the process of finding a contractor and drawing up designs will take place in the first half of next year.
According to an investment report prepared in support of Trafford’s plans to overhaul leisure services in the borough generally, the new facility will replace the old leisure centre and include a 25-metre pool, a 25-metre leisure pool with a moveable floor, and a car park for 300 cars.
The new fitness area will have 100 stations, twice as many as the existing gym, and a wellness facility.
There will also be a sports hall with six courts, flexible space, a purpose-built gymnastics and trampoline hub, squash courts and a party room.
Subject to Executive approval on Monday, the new centre should be completed and operating by February 2022, with an estimated construction cost of £22.4m.
The report says that the current facilities across Trafford are “having a serious detrimental impact on the customer experience and the Trafford Leisure business plan”.
It added: “Customer behaviour is changing and loyalty is being stretched. Buildings designed in the 1970s do not meet the needs of the current customer.”
The report argues that, although it was once an extremely busy place, Altrincham Leisure Centre is “at the end of its economic life and refurbishment is not a viable option”.
Alternatively, leaving the leisure centre as it is would be costly and ultimately result in closure, the report said.
“Condition surveys and life cycle costs over the next 30 years mean that it would cost at least £20m just to maintain a basic level of health and safety compliance,” it added.
“More importantly this option essentially means closure as the centres become more and more unviable to operate due to the condition of the building.”
The estimated construction costs involve borrowing £18.3m – an amount expected to be paid back through future use of the facilities by customers.
Trafford has one of the biggest swimming programmes in the country that is enjoyed by many young school children from an early age.
The report states that swimming is considered to be of “vital importance to the future health of children in Trafford”.
“With the facilities in decline, the strategic importance of this to the Council’s aims and objectives is paramount.”
Besides a new leisure centre in Altrincham, the leisure investment report outlines other area for new facilities in Stretford, Sale and Urmston.