Wates Construction starts on site at £21.5m Carlisle leisure hub redevelopment

Wates Construction starts on site at £21.5m Carlisle leisure hub redevelopment

National contractor Wates Construction has now started on site at the Sands Centre, after being appointed by Carlisle City Council to deliver the £21.5m leisure and community hub.

The project will see the redevelopment and expansion of the current facility at The Sands Centre, incorporating state of the art facilities.

Set across two storeys and accessed by a bespoke, internal street, the new build extension will add 40,000 sq ft to the existing building, with the redeveloped centre offering facilities including an events hall complete with a viewing gallery, a four-court sports hall, a 25m swimming pool with spectator seating and a 20m learner pool complete with an innovative moveable floor. 

The new Sands Centre will also boast a café and bar area, dance studios and a non-clinical NHS facility, to create an all-encompassing community hub for the Carlisle area.

Wates has been appointed to deliver all build works, to be carried out in strict accordance with COVID-19 operating procedures, and carefully planned to avoid disruption to the existing Sands Centre which will remain open and active throughout. As part of its enabling works, Wates has supported Carlisle City Council and their leisure provider GLL by creating a temporary leisure facility at the nearby Newman’s School to support capacity for the community.

Other delivery partners appointed to the project include Pick Everard, GT3 Architects, Buro Happold and FT Leisure. As part of Wates’ commitment to supporting the local community, it will provide several opportunities for local people including 10 work placements, and seven apprenticeships, as well as offering work-based education opportunities for Carlisle students.

The project has been procured via SCAPE, the UK’s leading public sector procurement authority. It marks Wates’ third major leisure project to be secured under the SCAPE Construction framework, following the recent completion of the carbon-neutral Braywick Leisure Centre, and the landmark Sandwell Aquatics Centre set to be completed in early 2022. 

The SCAPE Construction framework accelerates construction project delivery, allows for more considered project planning through early contractor engagement, as well as creating better value for the taxpayer and measurable economic benefits.

Construction on the Sands Centre commenced this week, with full completion expected by October 2022.

Dave Saville, Business Unit Director for Wates Construction in the North West, said: “This is an incredibly ambitious and complex build, but one which will be of real benefit to for the community in Carlisle. We’ve been working with the council around feasibility of this project since 2018, and seeing construction start on site is testament to the hard work of our teams, design partners and the Client, who have all been so committed to making this leisure project a reality.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought public health and wellbeing into sharp focus and it’s reassuring to see councils invest in state-of-the-art hubs like this. Not only do they create a vital new resource for the community, but also benefit the local supply chain and provide valuable training opportunities for young people looking to start careers in construction.

“This is our third SCAPE project to go to site in the North West this autumn and our third leisure project to be delivered via the framework nationally. This, as well as our team’s continued presence in Cumbria, were large influencers in the decision to appoint Wates to this project, and we look forward to getting the main build underway.”

Leader of Carlisle City Council, Cllr John Mallinson, said: “This is another important step forward for The Sands Redevelopment. Even through challenging times, the project and works have continued. Thanks to all the project team for moving this important community facility forward.

“The Sands Centre redevelopment is a major project that will provide significant benefits. It represents a cornerstone in our plans to support our communities to continue to improve their health and wellbeing. There is a necessity to do the work. Carlisle desperately needs new swimming facilities. This is a one-off opportunity with a dual benefit of all the facilities being on one site.”

Mark Robinson, Group Chief Executive of SCAPE, commented: “Community-focused assets will be more important than ever across the UK post-Covid-19, not just in improving wellbeing and social cohesion for the local community but also in creating central hubs for local economies to grow around. This state-of-the-art hub will do just that and represents the commitment to enriching communities long held by Carlisle City Council. Wates will be delivering a number of important social value initiatives during the construction phase, leaving a lasting legacy on the city’s skills base. 

Mark continued: “It’s a privilege to have helped accelerate this important project through SCAPE Construction. I look forward to seeing the collaboration come to fruition and the benefits it will bring to the local community.”

Paul Reed, Associate Director and Sport & Leisure lead for GT3 Architects said: “It is fantastic to see the Sands Leisure Centre start on site. GT3 are proud to have worked closely with Carlisle City Council and the Operator, GLL, on the design of this community focused facility.

“Our aim is to get the people of Carlisle more active, more often. The Sands offers a brilliant opportunity to provide the community with arts and leisure facilities under the same roof, through the key integration of a flexible event space. This is a carefully considered design, and I’m sure that this facility will add additional value to the local community whilst also continuing to provide a landmark venue for Carlisle and the wider area.”

The Sands Centre adds to Wates’ extensive portfolio of leisure developments in the North West which includes Ellesmere Port Sports Village, Northwich Memorial Court and Worsley Leisure Centre. Elsewhere in Cumbria, the firm is currently working on Whitehaven Academy.

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