Salt Ayre Leisure Centre

The £5 million redevelopment of Salt Ayre Leisure in Lancaster has officially completed as independent research by ukactive demonstrates the social and financial return of the investment.

Working with Lancaster City Council, Alliance Leisure and its long- term construction partner Createability, have transformed the under-performing facility into a thriving community hub boasting a 72 per cent increase in customer visits.

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

Alliance Leisure led the project from concept stage to delivery working with specialist leisure contractor, Createability, as well as architects Bignell, Shacklady, Ewing as interior designers. 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 equipped by principle supplier, Precor; adventure play area; XHeight climbing wall; barista-style café and a luxury spa.

An independent impact analysis, conducted by ukactive’s Research Institute, 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. Queenax™ functional training classes have generated significant interest from customers of all ages and abilities, as the small group classes create a 'team effect' where motivation to workout is high - a typical week records over 800 attendees to classes that use the Queenax unit. The new adventure facilities, including XHeight and the Flight Tower, have also generated more than 10,000 visits to the centre.

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

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. 

Darren Clifford, Cabinet member with responsibility for culture, leisure and tourism, said: “Without doubt the decision to invest £5million 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.”

Commenting on the results, Dr. Mann says: “The evidence is clear. If we can provide spaces where people feel inspired to be active, we can initiate behavioural change on a significant scale. This is really encouraging and adds weight to ukactive’s appeal to government to commit £1 billion capital investment into our leisure stock across the UK. Moving towards, a preventative care strategy is the only sustainable solution to health care in this country. Creating spaces which inspire whole communities to be more active has to be a key component of this strategy.”

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 continued operational and financial success of the project. 

James Foley, adds: “We will continue to work closely with the council over the next few years, driving participation. Creating the space is one cog in the wheel but ongoing investment in staff training and a focus on centre promotion are also vital components in the long-term sustainability of the facility.”

Alliance Leisure was also appointed Leisure Development Partner on Denbighshire County Council’s new Leisure Framework launched earlier this year. The Framework is open to any public sector organisation including local authorities, leisure trusts and private limited companies operating leisure facilities on behalf of UK public sector clients and will make it easier and more cost-effective for eligible providers to scope, develop and deliver physical leisure developments.