Creating the wow factor on a budget

Bringing a dated local authority leisure centre up to 21st century standards can dramatically impact customer numbers, satisfaction and profit. But, with so many centres in dire need of modernisation and with dwindling budgets, how can local authorities meet the demands of customers for facilities of the same high quality and design as those found in private health clubs and gyms, often for a similar price?

The answer may well lie in outsourcing. Financial constraints mean that few local authorities still have their own architecture and design departments. Appointing a leisure design and build specialist allows local authorities to tap into their experience and expertise to update their centres.

A company with the technical skills to manage the project, from initial concept to completion, will provide a drastic makeover on limited budgets, which can vary from under £200,000 to up to £2.5 million, such as the recent renovation we conducted at Llantrisant Leisure Centre in Wales.

The key is to refurbish the existing space and make it work harder. In most cases, the bricks and mortar are sound, so the facility just needs an update. For example, leisure centres often have huge sports halls that are severely underused, so one strategy might be to split it in half and install a mezzanine floor with a gym on top and a café and play area downstairs.

At Northumberland’s Wentworth Leisure Centre, an indoor bowls court was taking up 25 per cent of the centre’s space, but only generating two per cent of its revenue. We replaced it with a ten pin bowling facility, which now brings in 25 per cent of the centre’s revenue.

By outsourcing to a leisure design and build specialist, local authorities can give their dated centres the wow factor, without breaking the bank.