2021 target for Berwick sports centre

Plans for a new sports centre in Berwick have received positive initial feedback from local residents.

Friday, 22nd March 2019, 7:38 am
Andrew Mowbray from Advance Northumberland and Leanne Beattie from Active Northumberland with the new plans for Berwick Leisure Centre. Picture by Jane Coltman

A public drop-in session showing the early plans for the £20million facility was held at the Swan Centre on Tuesday.

Andrew Mowbray, senior project manager of Advance Northumberland, said: “There’s been a very positive response so far. We had quite a few people in to take a look at the plans, so it was good.”

The ground floor plan for the new Swan Centre.

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Proposed facilities include a 25m swimming pool, a learner pool and leisure water, a sports hall, fitness suite and studios, a lawn green and indoor bowls hall, spa facilities, café and soft play, an outdoor all-weather pitch and adult care and teaching facilities.

The proposal will also include new landscaping and public open space as well as an overall increase in parking.

Coun Georgina Hill, independent member for Berwick East on Northumberland County Council, said: “The plans for the new leisure centre look great and the feedback from residents has been really positive.

“There are enhanced features such as the swimming pool, which will include a leisure and training section and a spa.

The first floor plan for the new Swan Centre in Berwick.

“There are brand new facilities such as a 3G pitch which we successfully lobbied for, with the support of representatives from the local football community.

“Residents will also see that their views have actually been listened to during the consultation with, for example, the retention of an indoor bowling lawn which was not in the early draft plans.

“The planning application is scheduled to be submitted shortly and building to commence later this year.

“This is important because residents in Berwick have been used to no investment and nothing happening in the town for decades, so will only believe it when they see the spades actually go into the ground!”

The second floor plan of the new Swan Centre.

The new centre will be situated on the site of the existing Swan Centre and will be run by Active Northumberland, the charitable trust that manages leisure services across the county on behalf of Northumberland County Council.

Simon Robertson, of Newcastle-based GT3 Architects, said: “We’ll be building it in such a way that existing facilities stay open while we’re constructing the new centre so when the new pool opens we can demolish the existing one and build the sports hall. The new centre will also be more prominent from the main road which we hope will help to draw in more visitors and tourists.”

Coun Cath Homer, cabinet member with responsibility for leisure at Northumberland County Council, said: “Active Northumberland staff are all incredibly professional and are delivering some fantastic leisure services for the town.

“However, the hard fact is that the current Swan Centre has millions of pounds worth of backlog maintenance issues, and is no longer fit for its intended purpose.

“The new centre, with state-of-the-art facilities, will provide fantastic opportunities for fun, fitness and relaxation for residents and visitors to the town and will ultimately be far more efficient to run too.”

The brand new leisure centre will be built on the site of the present Swan Centre and its construction which is expected to start later this year will be phased alongside the existing facility’s demolition providing consistent access to leisure facilities during the development.

Mark Tweedie, chief executive of Active Northumberland said: “Just like the existing Swan Centre has done, this new facility will serve the Berwick community for generations to come.

“Modern lifestyles mean that most of us are not as physically active as we should be, which can be detrimental to our long-term health, so it’s never been more important to provide great places to help people be active and have fun.

“Active Northumberland is really looking forward to working closely with the local community and Northumberland County Council to deliver this exciting new development for the town.”

A second drop-in session will be held in Berwick Workspace, Boarding School Yard, 90 Marygate on Saturday, March 23 between 10am-2pm.

The session will provide an opportunity for members of the public to learn about the leisure centre plans in more detail, to speak to the project team and to ask questions or give any feedback.

If you are unable to make either of the drop in events, information boards will be on display at The Swan Centre until next week.

Advance Northumberland, a new regeneration company established by Northumberland County Council is responsible for delivering the project.