A fully refurbished Kidsgrove Sports Centre has opened its doors following a £7.5 million transformation financed by Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council and Town Deal funding.
The Council has worked closely with Kidsgrove Sports Centre Community Group, a registered charity, over the past five years to find a sustainable way of delivering premium health and fitness facilities for residents after a withdrawal of previous service provision, in June 2017, partly due to the poor condition of the Fourth Avenue building.
The major renovation – carried out by contractor Willmott Dixon after assessments showed that refurbishment was the most cost-effective option – features a 25m, six lane swimming pool with accessibility aids; the largest sports hall in North Staffordshire, a fully equipped gym and fitness suite together with a dance studio, spinning studio and physio area.
The improvements incorporate elements such as modern flooring, heating, lighting and ventilation as well as a new roof and signs in braille. The Council, who now owns the building, has entered into a 25-year lease with the community group, enabling it to operate the high quality facilities under a community management model.
Visitors can pay as they go or sign up to flexible and affordable membership packages which offer great value for regular users.
Council Leader Simon Tagg said: “I’m delighted that Kidsgrove Sports Centre reopens on Monday. It’s taken years of hard work and determination behind the scenes to make our collective vision a reality but we’ve finally achieved our ambitious goal and it feels really satisfying. This much-needed community asset – which started off as sad, run down and mothballed – looks absolutely amazing now and I know that residents will also be over the moon with the transformation. The new, high quality facilities will make such a difference to people’s health, well-being and quality of life. It’s definitely been worth the wait.
“One of the Council’s priorities is to create a healthy and active borough by providing residents with access to a wide range of great facilities and activities. Unfortunately there has been health inequalities in Kidsgrove in the past but that is changing, not only with the celebrated reopening of the sports centre but with several other linked projects also funded by the Council and advanced Town Deal. I’d like to thank Kidsgrove Sports Centre Community Group for their equally unwavering determination to bring enhanced leisure facilities to the town and I wish them the best of luck in this new and exciting chapter.”
Kidsgrove Sports Centre is part of a “sports village” concept – developed by the Council with input from the Kidsgrove Town Deal Board – complementing premium community sports facilities at the adjacent King’s CE Academy and nearby Clough Hall Park which have also received major contributions from the Town Deal to improve health outcomes, boost jobs and grow local economies. This is in addition to the new, state-of-the-art pump track at Newchapel recreation ground which is regarded as one of the best in the country.
Meanwhile, the community group has been awarded almost £10,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund to help tackle digital and social exclusion by creating a community hub and café, including free Wi-Fi and tablets. It has also attracted support and funding totalling £360,000 from Sport England, Cricket Staffordshire and The Football Foundation.
Mark Clews, Chair of Kidsgrove Sports Centre Community Group, added: “We are
absolutely delighted to achieve our ambition to provide an outstanding community leisure facility for Kidsgrove and the north of our borough. It has taken many years of hard work and dedication from all partners involved.
“It’s exceptionally pleasing that the refurbished facility has been able to retain its iconic character, while being modern and accessible for all. Residents wanted a refurbished sports centre and via our work with the Council and other partners we have been able to achieve this. We can’t wait to welcome everyone to a true community facility, one where everything spent is invested back into the centre. We look forward to continuing our positive relationship with the Council and delivering on our shared aims and objectives.”