Construction of the new, state-of-the-art £35 million leisure centre in Craigavon is advancing fast and is on course for phased completion in 2020.
With the steel frame structure now firmly installed on the dry side of the building – providing an anticipatory glimpse of how the structure will look on completion – foundation works to create the new 50-metre gala swimming pool are now well under way.
The latest build milestone paves the way for a series of key installations in quick succession, including the creation of two additional pools, an eight-court sports hall, studio spaces, squash courts and an indoor children’s soft play area.
Tandragee-based concrete and piling firm Taranto installed the 1,000 concrete piles needed to support the 415-tonne steel frame on the dryside of the building, supplied and installed by Walter Watson, a family firm based in Co Down.
Once complete, the new leisure centre will also be home to a world class 1,000m2 gym - the largest available anywhere in Ireland – as well as an extensive outdoor water-sports provision, traditional best-in-class fitness facilities and fluid open spaces including a café and studios, which have been designed to meet community and visitor needs.
Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Cllr. Julie Flaherty, said: “A flagship project creating at least 500 jobs on site, with more to follow, this is a pivotal moment in the development of this new and exciting leisure facility, which has been designed to transform the health, wellbeing and quality of life for residents and visitors for generations to come.”
The new centre will be among the first in Northern Ireland to feature ‘Pool Pod’ platform lifts, designed as a legacy of the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics to improve pool access for people with disabilities and the less mobile.
This follows a major partnership with Disability Sport NI to deliver a flagship leisure centre which supports the development and long-term sustainability of sports and leisure programmes for people with disabilities. Working with Disability Sport NI, the Council has ensured that access and facilities have been prioritised and advanced from design through to completion.
Farrans, one of the UK and Ireland’s leading construction firms, is spearheading the contemporary new build and has a long track record of delivering successful projects, including Bangor’s award-winning Aurora leisure centre, Victoria Square shopping centre in Belfast and Craigavon Area Hospital.
The project was procured via the Scape Major Works framework, which has since been superseded by the Scape National Construction framework. Configured to deliver construction projects across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, the frameworks performance management processes ensure Farrans is working directly with local suppliers, contractors and the wider community.
Mark Robinson, Scape Group Chief Executive, said; “We are pleased to see Craigavon’s new leisure centre taking shape. It has taken tremendous effort from Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council to create an exciting facility that will be accessible to all, and encourage a healthier lifestyle for the local community.
“Creating social value and delivering community benefits is embedded throughout our frameworks.
“As well as ensuring a maximum spend on local labour and SME engagement, the project will also drive long-term economic benefits through the provision of training, upskilling and employment opportunities for the local community.
“We look forward to seeing this project evolve in the coming months.”