Design team reveal their delight as Morpeth leisure centre shortlisted for awards

Architects behind Morpeth’s new sports and leisure centre have revealed their delight at being shortlisted for a design award.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

The £21m project, which opened last April, is a finalist in two categories of the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Awards North East.

Commissioned and funded by Northumberland County Council and Advance Northumberland, the project was designed by GT3 Architects and constructed by Willmott Dixon.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Paul Reed, director and sport and leisure lead at GT3 Architects, said: “We knew from the very first discussions about revitalising Morpeth’s leisure centre that there was a huge opportunity to design a new typology of public building – one which embraced social cohesion, community, and wellbeing, just as much as sporting excellence.

Morpeth Sports and Leisure Centre.Morpeth Sports and Leisure Centre.
Morpeth Sports and Leisure Centre.

“Naturally, as architects, we are keen to ensure our buildings fit their context and can be considered visually as great designs, however a more important driver is that people enjoy and interact with the spaces.

"Our design team worked hard to create a flexible and inclusive destination, which better supported the various community and sporting groups within the area, whilst also offering new users a reason to visit.

“We’re incredibly proud of the story the numbers tell about the resulting impact on the local community and delighted that the centre has been recognised by RICS.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The GT3 Architects design team also focused on carbon reduction and sustainability by introducing a large-scale photovoltaic roof array to provide reliable energy source and CO2 savings. They also included a series of building-wide heating and cooling solutions to minimise waste energy.

The centre includes the library.The centre includes the library.
The centre includes the library.

Paul continued: “Our sustainability strategy for Morpeth was built on three core pillars - social, environmental, and economic. There’s little point in designing the most environmentally sustainable facility if no one wants to be there.

"As well as more than doubling the use of the sport facilities, the council has been able to generate additional income while consolidating its overheads and feeding into social fabric of the town.”

Along with the sporting facilities – including a six-lane swimming pool and spectator gallery, learner pool, spa and fitness suites, studio and multi-use sports hall - the centre incorporates a new community services hub. This includes a double-height community library, a customer service centre, a café and soft play with connections to a poetry garden and outdoor terraces, plus a brand-new adult learning facility with classrooms for a number of courses.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Since opening, the new centre has enjoyed a 200 to 260 per cent increase in swim, gym and class visits and a 165 per cent increase in community members.

Cllr Jeff Watson, cabinet member for promoting healthy lives, said: “The design of the centre is truly spectacular. It is bright, spacious and takes advantage of the beautiful views of the River Wansbeck.

"It is an incredible building, and a vibrant community space offering the facilities and activities that the local community want. This has been backed up by the record attendance figures since it opened a year ago.”

Jo Robison, director at DPP planning, said: “The site was a complex one in planning, heritage and flood risk terms but through careful engagement and clever design responses, the team has created a public building that brings people together for good and we are incredibly proud to have played a part in that.”