Stuart Glover (Salt Ayre Centre Manager) and Lancaster City Council colleague Helen McMahon receiving the award on the evening.
Photo by Tangerine Event Photography

Lancaster City Council has been awarded the Connected Procurement and Commissioning Innovation award by iNetwork for works carried out as part of a £5 million investment in Salt Ayre Leisure Centre.

New attractions to the centre include the Les Mills immersive cycling experience, the Trip™; Europe’s first outdoor Flight Tower; an 80-station gym largely; adventure play area; XHeight climbing wall; barista-style café and a luxury spa.

Since the redevelopment, community engagement has soured with visits to the centre increasing by more than 20,000. Gym and fitness class attendance is up by 83 per cent and active members have more than doubled. The new family friendly facilities have also proved popular with more than 200 youngsters taking out the a newly available junior membership.

As part of a 10-year development partnership with Lancaster City Council, Alliance lead the project which has seen a failing leisure centre with a large subsidy in excess of half a million pounds a year transformed to a thriving physical activity hub, projected to be revenue-neutral within three years of project completion.

The Council’s award submission states: ‘The multi-disciplined professional team delivered the project by commissioning a specialist leisure development partner [Alliance Leisure] with experience of multiple project delivery which has allowed the most expedient and efficient route to delivering the ambitious expectations of members and customers. This was a large and complex project and the team have delivered a redevelopment that has exceeded all expectations.’

Coun Darren Clifford, cabinet member with responsibility for sport and leisure, said: “From the outset it was evident that Salt Ayre had to change its offer to increase the number of customers and income and reduce the operating cost to the council and secure its future. This was a large and complex project and the team have delivered a redevelopment that has exceeded all expectations. This award celebrates that work and everyone involved should be hugely proud of what they have helped the council to deliver – a hub for fitness and leisure which has seen significant increases in income, membership and participation.”

James Foley, project lead at Alliance Leisure, says: “Congratulations to Lancaster Council on winning this award. It took some real visionary thinking and trust in the fact that the community would embrace the investment to make this project the success it has turned out to be. This project has created a sustainable leisure provision which will be enjoyed for many years to come. Well done Lancaster City Council!


Conwy County Borough Council has invested in redeveloping the hospitality suite at Stadiwm Zip World in Colwyn Bay, North Wales.

The project, which was completed by Alliance Leisure, on time and under budget, will allow the borough council to expand its hospitality offering to ensure the future success of the venue.

With a capacity of 6,080 for sporting events and 15,000 for concerts, Stadiwm Zip World hosts a variety of concerts, events and sports fixtures including the town’s iconic Access All Eirias music event each summer. It’s also a popular venue for conferences, exhibitions and team building days as well as banquets, weddings and birthday parties.

The borough council wanted to build on the success of the stadium’s hospitality business and appointed Alliance Leisure to extend the Conwy Suite. By building out onto the existing balcony area overlooking the pitch, Alliance Leisure was able to significantly expand the suite effectively doubling seating capacity to 120. The project also included a new bar area, flooring and decor. The result is a bright and vibrant space that’s perfect for hosting a wide range of events.

“In these times of austerity, we have to make our resources work harder. Stadiwm Zip World is a hugely popular community asset, and demand for the Conwy Suite had outgrown its capacity. Thanks to this new extension, we can cater for even more events ensuring a more viable business in the future,” says John Hardy, Head of Active and Creative Lifestyles at Conwy County Borough Council.


Council and partner achieve large scale community engagement in physical activity

A £5 million investment into a failing leisure centre has stimulated large scale community engagement in physical activity. Lancaster City Council partnered with Alliance Leisure to modernise Salt Ayre Leisure Centre and introduce new facilities designed to stimulate wider participation.

The project has triggered a phenomenal turnaround for the centre, which has seen a 72 per cent increase in customer visits in 12 months and a 419 per cent increase in active members from 5,450 to 28,302.

Salt Ayre Leisure Centre used to be an expensive drain on council resources making an annual loss of £800,000. The situation was so bad, that at one point, the Lancaster City Council offered the centre for sale for £1.

Working with Lancaster City Council, Alliance Leisure breathed new life into the facility with a host of new facilities that include the Les Mills immersive cycling experience, the Trip™; Europe’s first outdoor Flight Tower; a 80 station gym, adventure play area, XHeight climbing wall, barista-style café and luxury spa.

“We know that modern leisure centres with the right mix of facilities and services can change lives by engaging people of ages and abilities in activity. Partnering with the private sector allows local authorities to maximise investment in their centres by reducing the risk of rising costs and increasing the possibility of securing additional funding thereby increasing the impact of government capital,” says Paul Cluett, managing director of Alliance Leisure.

An independent impact analysis, conducted by the ukactive Research Institute, found the average number of visits had increased by 161 per cent from 4.1 visits per week to 10.7 visits since the redevelopment.

The centre is attracting more women than ever before with active female membership increasing by 178 per cent to form 58 per cent of the membership base.

Gym membership has grown dramatically rising from approximately 600 to 2,600 in 12 months, while fitness class attendance increased 83 per cent from 9,491 to 17,343.

The new adventure facilities, including XHeight and the Flight Tower, generated more than 10,000 visits to the centre.

The research also showed that the new facilities are attracting people from further afield with users travelling from almost a kilometre further away to use the centre.

The increase in income generated by this uplift in participation will see the development costs repaid and the asset turning a profit within three years, creating a sustainable community service for many years to come.

“Without doubt the decision to invest £5 million in Salt Ayre was one of the most important decisions taken by the city council in recent years. We’re now seeing the clear rewards of that investment and the achievement of our collective ambition of providing affordable leisure and fitness activities to people of all ages and abilities,” says Darren Clifford, Cabinet member with responsibility for culture, leisure and tourism.

The redevelopment of Salt Ayre Leisure Centre is part of a 10-year partnership between Lancaster City Council and Alliance Leisure. In addition to the physical delivery of this project, Alliance Leisure has also entered into a client support partnership to provide support across a number of core functions including marketing, staff training and sales services to ensure the long-term operational and financial success of the project.

Autumn Budget Fails to Invest in Local Leisure Centres

We are disappointed that the Autumn Budget has allocated no additional funds to the renovation of run-down leisure centres.

The LGA had called for a £400 million commitment to invest in the UK’s ageing leisure stock and we continue to support this appeal. Creating vibrant spaces where all walks of life feel inspired to be active delivers far reaching health, social and economic benefits which will create a more healthy, happy and productive population.

If you work for a local authority leisure operator or a leisure trust and want to speak to us about our funding options then please call us today on 01278444944

£7 million leisure centre redevelopment gets underway in Monmouthshire

A £7.4 million project to refurbish and extend Monmouth Leisure Centre in South Wales has started on site. Alliance Leisure is delivering the scheme for Monmouthshire County Council under the UK Leisure Framework.

Opened in 2000, the centre is dated and in much need of renovation. The project, which is being funded by a combination of local project developments and borrowing, will future-proof the centre’s facilities while meeting demand in under-represented markets in the area such as health and wellbeing and children’s play.

ISG has been appointed by Alliance Leisure as principle build contractor for the multi-phased scheme. Phase one includes the refurbishment of the centre to include a new 65-station gym, exercise studio, group cycling studio and changing areas. A new toning suite will increase the provision for sedentary people and those suffering with poor health conditions. Due to complete in summer 2018, phase one also includes a new steel-frame, glass-fronted extension housing a children’s play area and café.

The second phase, scheduled to open in winter 2018, includes a new 25m, five lane swimming pool, a health suite comprising a sauna, steam room and spa bath, and multi-purpose room. Designed to Amateur Swimming Association standards, the pool will be suitable for local galas with enhanced viewing areas and better facilities for youngsters to learn to swim.

A temporary four court sports hall with changing rooms and toilets will accommodate centre users as well as students from Monmouth Comprehensive School while the project is ongoing.

Julia Goddard, Senior Business Development Manager at Alliance Leisure, says: “This project is the result of an established relationship with Monmouthshire County Council. We’ve been in discussions with Monmouthshire for some time, but it was the launch of the UK Leisure Framework earlier this year that allowed the council to proceed with the development in the most cost-effective way.”

Cllr Bob Greenland, deputy leader of Monmouthshire County Council, says: “Gone are the days when public money can be ploughed into leisure, into what some would regard as non-essential services. Yet with health issues on the top of everyone’s agenda, leisure services play a pivotal role in improving public health. The public sector needs to approach the issue with a commercial perspective, which is what we are doing in Monmouthshire.

“Our recent wellbeing assessment tells us we have to plan for the future and invest in preventative programmes to ensure our communities take steps to a healthier life. This project will increase our exercise, swimming and fitness offer allowing us to engage with more of our community.”

£1m Redevelopment of Larkfield Leisure Centre Gets Underway

tmactive is investing more than £1m in Larkfield Leisure Centre, which it operates on behalf of Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council, to meet growing customer demand for group exercise.

The leisure trust has appointed Alliance Leisure Services as development partners for the project. Masterplanned by architects Saunders Boston, the scheme will create three new studio spaces and extend the existing gym by an extra 1200 square feet.

An extension to the front of the centre will house two new group exercise studios, complete with sprung floors, LED mixed lighting and inspirational graphics, allowing tmactive to provide a significantly increased and varied group exercise class programme. The project will also create the centre’s first dedicated group cycling studio, while the extended gym will feature new top of the range cardiovascular and resistance equipment from Technogym, a functional training rig more than twice the size of the current rig, and an expanded freeweights offer. The Technogym equipment will incorporate the new Unity screens providing touch ID, personalisation, exercise programming and customer contact software. The leading equipment is not available anywhere else locally regardless of price point.

The trust is funding the capital works whilst Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council is responsible for more than £200,000 costs on the replacement equipment. The trust is supplementing this budget by further investment to upgrade to the Unity screens and bring new complementary pieces of equipment such as the Octane Zero Runner and Technogym Skill Mill to the gym floor

“The number of people coming to Larkfield Leisure Centre for group exercise classes is growing year on year and we are delighted to be able to respond to this demand with some fantastic new studios. The redevelopment will allow us to accommodate even more users from the local community with an even wider range of group exercise classes. The extension to the gym also reflects patterns of use with increased investment in freeweights, functional training and digital connectivity to ensure our customers gain maximum benefit from working out at Larkfield” says Martin Guyton, chief executive of tmactive.

Tom Fairey, senior business development manager at Alliance Leisure Services, says: “We’ve built up a good relationship with tmactive over the years while looking at various development opportunities for the Trust. As development partners, we are delighted to be working with the team to provide exciting new facilities for the local community at Larkfield by delivering the right scheme at the right budget.”

Work has now started on site with the two new group exercise studios scheduled to open in early April 2018. The gym extension and Spin Studio is due to complete in May 2018.


Heads of leisure from across the UK visited Salt Ayre Leisure Centre in Lancaster to learn how Alliance Leisure has transformed this failing facility into a thriving community hub boasting a 72 per cent increase in customer visits.

Working with Lancaster City Council, Alliance Leisure led the £5m redevelopment of the centre from concept stage to delivery modernising the building and introducing a range of new attractions. These included the Les Mills immersive cycling experience, the Trip™; Europe’s first outdoor Flight Tower; an 80 station gym, adventure play area, XHeight climbing wall, barista-style café and luxury spa.

Sixty public sector leisure operators saw the transformation for themselves at a special event hosted by Alliance Leisure and Les Mills. They were also the first to learn about the positive impact of the development through ukactive’s independent research into the social and financial return on investment of the Salt Ayre project.

The centre, which was making an annual loss of £800,000, will be in a revenue-neutral position within three years, which includes paying back the initial £5m investment.  The ukactive research found that since the redevelopment, visits to the centre has jumped by more than 20,000. Gym attendance has increased by 83 per cent and fitness class attendance by 83 per cent, with the Les Mill Immersive experience attracting more than 5,000 visits alone. The new adventure facilities, including XHeight and the Flight Tower, generated more than 10,000 visits to the centre.

Active members has more than doubled to over 2,500 with female members increasing by 160 per cent to form 58 per cent of the membership base. The new junior membership has proved particularly popular with more than 200 sales.

The research showed that the new facilities are attracting people from further afield with users travelling from almost a kilometre further away to use the centre.

“The aim of the investment was to breathe new life into a failing facility and create a vibrant environment which stimulates participation. It is hugely satisfying to evidence large scale community engagement and successfully re-positions the facility as an integral part of what has become a more active local population,” says James Foley, Commercial Director at Alliance Leisure.

For more information about the project, take a look at this video filmed by ITN Productions in partnership with APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence)…

Paul Woodford speaking on Marketing and Culture

Professor Andy Miah talking technology, sport and health

Dr Steve Mann presenting the ukactive research findings

Delegates take the opportunity to experience the Les Mills The Trip for themselves