Filton gets first look at future of leisure centre

August 30 2021
Filton gets first look at future of leisure centre

Filton residents have had a first look at designs for the new-look leisure centre.

by Shane Gibson
Filton residents have had a first look at designs for the new-look leisure centre.
The Town Council hosted a public consultation by Active Nation, the accepted tender company for the leisure centre, with a number of Filton residents in attendance.
Active Nation’s Managing Director Stewart Martin, Project Manager Chris True and the Architect Rima Yousef gave detailed descriptions of what will be built and the benefits for the residents of Filton that the new leisure centre will bring.
Rima broke down the developments of the new constructions.
She said: “The space here, the size is great, far better than many others we see. But the building is trapped in the past, something from the sixties or seventies.”
As shown in the plans there will be a new single main entrance included in an extension at the front of the building. This will be the single point of entry into the leisure centre. The entrance will lead into a café/hub/waiting area that will provide access to the new facility.
The new constructions are to be built around the pool with only aesthetic changes made to what already exists around the pool currently. The ground floor will have parent/viewing areas around the pool and learners’ pool. The parents' area is also close to the new double-height, soft play area.
At the rear of the building will be a covered seating area underneath the Fitness Suite overhang.
The upper floor will feature a forty-five station Fitness Suite covering an area of 220sqm and will have views onto Elm Park, as will the office space and meeting room with areas of 21sqm and 32sqm, respectively. Also on the upper floor will be staff rooms and a large Flexible Studio/Function Room (150sqm). The roof will feature more than 300sqm of solar power technology.
Stewart, who had previously spoke of Active Nations' previous successes and history, said that they were not looking for actively fit people “who are looking for the next shiny new thing” to become members at the leisure centre but wanted people who were wanting to get fit and healthy but had difficulties in doing so. “Our mission is to stop people falling into vulnerable health categories,” he said.
During the Q&A session, Chris answered questions from residents. When asked why the pool was not going to be upgraded or replaced, Chris explained that the cost of the project would increase by a further £8m in that scenario. However, there will be a brand-new hoist and air handling units will be replaced. Chris explained that there is no intention to close the pool whilst work is taking place. Rima explained that whilst work commences around the front of the building, access will be available through what was the Ratepayers. Once the front of the building is completed, work will move around the building. “We will try to achieve minimum disruption to the pool,” said Rima.
There will be integration of Elm Park into the development.
“Its all about trying to connect the building with the park, trying to sell the facilities to those who use the park, and sell the park to those who come just for a swim,” Rima explained.
Chris spoke of Active Nation investing into a Health Hub, a low impact exercise facility.
He said: “It mainly targets people have joint issues or people who want to exercise but don’t want to have a high impact on their joints. There will be Medical Referral programmes for people unable to take part in regular exercises due to cardiac or weight management issues. They will be GP referred and taken through programmes by qualified fitness trainers.”
Another resident asked how much the council were spending on the project. Councillor Andy Robinson said there would be £4.4m of investment over 25 years. After the third year the council will receive revenue from the leisure centre.
When asked why the council would be paying be back over £6.2m over 25 years, Stewart said: “It is an extremely low interest rate because it is direct from the Government. The amount that the council are liable for paying back leads to a net neutral cash flow that compares favourably to the leisure centre's loss of £300,000 last year.”
Chris added that the cost included an extra 12 positions of employment at the leisure centre for local people.
There will be some sacrifices. There will no longer be badminton courts, skittles nor the Ratepayers Arms.
Stewart said: “We are looking to provide a real family environment.”
The speakers from Active Nation spoke positively of the development and there was much excitement for what will start to take shape from early next year.
“This is not an off the shelf product that you might see down the road. This leisure centre will really reflect what’s going on in Filton,” Stewart added.
After inviting residents to attend an extraordinary meeting the following evening to listen to the finances involved, FTC Chair Darryl Collins said: “Something had to be done, because to shut the place down would have cost more than what we have chosen to do. And when we make these choices, it is in an open forum that you are all welcome to attend.”