Tees Active, a leisure trust, operates the Swan Centre on behalf of Northumberland County Council. Jeremy Platt, Operations Director explains, “This facility is typical of the country’s ageing leisure stock. It was worn and had not kept pace with the times. Activities on offer were not in line with local demand so uptake was poor – all a familiar industry theme.
We recently undertook refurbishment projects to modernise many of the other sites we manage, the objective being to improve participation and increase revenue, which can help meet redevelopment costs and/or reduce the financial support required from the Local Authority.
Tees Active had a long list of things they wanted to have done but in agreement with Createability decided to put some of these on hold and focus on a core scheme. This enabled a better quality product to be delivered to give improved longevity and revenue generation.
The site had a large children’s play area and a small gym. To make better use of the space the trust worked closely with Createability on a design that ‘swapped’ these two areas. As part of the gym revamp, dedicated changing and consultation rooms were incorporated. The reception area and café were also remodelled and upgraded. DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) compliance was a consideration throughout.
The development was undertaken in two phases. Firstly the gym and associated areas were completed to accommodate the traditional high demand in January. Construction can be disruptive and issues always crop up that have to be dealt with, in this case these were exacerbated by poor weather and particularly tight target dates to meet key revenue generating periods. However the robust mechanisms Createability had put in place to deal with these meant that quick decisions could be made to incorporate amendments needed to meet the programme, whilst managing costs to stay within budget. The flexibility and skill of the whole on site team delivered a process was efficient and effective.
“Overall it was well organised, thorough and proved a good experience throughout – something you can rarely say about the construction phase of a project. We are very pleased with the result, which was delivered just as we wanted and is achieving the business we forecast. Our location is fairly isolated and with a relatively small captive audience we need high market penetration. Local goodwill and word of mouth are critical to the success of this facility. Our decision to focus on quality was absolutely right. The first impression the new reception area creates cannot be underestimated and activities are proving popular. The development has been great for staff morale too.”
Jeremy Platt, Operations Director