The UK Leisure Framework has facilitated the investment of millions of pounds into public sector sports and leisure facilities in its first year.

Launched by the County Council in February 2017, with Alliance Leisure as leisure development partner, the framework aims to help public sector bodies transform their leisure offer with successful and sustainable facilities.

Jamie Groves, Denbighshire County Council

“The focus on developing the right business solution, rather than just the buildings, provides much more opportunity for innovation, as well as providing confidence that completed projects will be popular with the public and achieve their income targets,” says Jamie Groves, Head of Facilities, Assets & Housing at Denbighshire County Council.

In the first 12 months of the framework, developments with an estimated value of £27m have been signed. Five leisure projects have completed with another six developments currently on site.

The framework was borne out of the success of Denbighshire County Council’s first partnership with Alliance Leisure, which saw the investment of nearly £10m in upgrading facilities after years of under investment. Now it is helping other local authorities do the same by removing the burdens of public procurement.

According to research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), the UK public sector procurement process is the most expensive in the EU with some of the longest public sector purchasing processes, which can make the business of developing leisure facilities both costly and time-consuming.  The UK Leisure Framework looks to reduce the procurement process significantly and ensure projects are delivered on time and on budget.

Sarah Watts, Alliance Leisure

“By focusing on reducing costs and improving efficiencies for both the client and the contractor, the UK Leisure Framework ensures a larger percentage of the client’s overall budget is allocated to the development project, rather than the procurement process. This allows local authorities to progress developments that almost certainly would have proved prohibitively expensive under traditional public procurement procedures,” says Sarah Watts, CEO of Alliance Leisure.

SC2 Development, Rhyl, North Wales

Projects signed under the framework in the last 12 months include SC2, a £14.8m new leisure complex offering a 13,000sq ft leisure pool with flumes, slides and water play features, a TAG active adventure zone, changing village and café and bar area expected to draw over 35,000 extra visitors per year to the area.  Other projects include a £7.4m scheme to refurbish and extend Monmouth Leisure Centre, the refurbishment of Rhyl Leisure Centre, new 3G pitches at St Asaph Leisure Centre and the extension and refurbishment of hospitality facilities at Stadiwm Zip World.  In the last two months two further projects have commenced on site: a £2.4m investment by Cheltenham Borough Council in partnership with The Cheltenham Trust and a £1.4m health and fitness development with Flintshire County Council in partnership with Aura Trust.


Work has started on site this week at Long Stratton Leisure Centre, which is undergoing a £2m re-development by Alliance Leisure in partnership with South Norfolk District Council.

The improvements include a re-built two storey frontage to the building, with a new Gym, Soft Play, Café, Studios and Changing facilities for both members and the local School users.

The development will provide exciting, new facilities for the local community and will engage with a wider market of users to increase leisure participation. The project is due for completion at the end of December 2018. Watch this space for updates!


As part of a 26-week refurbishment project, with an investment total of £2.5 million, Northallerton Leisure Centre has opened the doors to its gym facility 24 hours a day to enable the centre to provide a more flexible service to the local community.

The investment project, commissioned and funded mainly by Hambleton District Council with a £213,000 contribution from Sport England towards swim changing improvements, has seen the construction of a new 5,100sq ft extension to house a fully equipped fitness suite, supplied by Technogym and complete with new functional training area and rig. A toning suite has also been added to attract a new segment of the market and the original fitness space has been renovated to include a general purpose studio and a group cycling studio.

Speaking of the renovations, Steve Lister, Head of Service, Leisure and Environment, says: “The investment has breathed new life into our fitness provision, enabling us to offer residents a new standard in quality and variety of training options. We have also installed technology which, using unique access codes and single person entry ‘pods’, makes it safe and secure to offer 24 hour access to the fitness facilities. This gives people more opportunity to fit physical activity into busy schedules and helps us in our ambition to get a higher percentage of the local population engaged in regular exercise.”

The investment has also seen general repair and upgrade works to the existing water slides, flumes and wave machine in the pool area. The pool surround has been replaced and new shower facilities added.

The Changing Village has been completely reconfigured. In addition to the inclusion of more lockers and changing cubicles, the facilities now boost Changing Places approval, recognising the improved accessibility for people with a disability.

As principle contractor on the project, Alliance Leisure employed ISG to carry out the works as part of a 10-year partnership agreement. Speaking of the project, James Foley, Commercial Director at Alliance, says: “This project is an excellent example of how the public and private sector are working together to deliver against Sport England’s objective to encourage more participation in physical activity. Northallerton Leisure Centre is now an accessible, modern and inviting hub where all ages and abilities can meet and enjoy a full range of physical activities.

“The whole project has been delivered, on time, on budget and in a live environment with minimal disruption to service throughout. The investment means that the local community now has a modern-day activity hub which will provide a sustainable leisure provision for many years to come.”


Birchwood Leisure Centre has opened its doors to customers following the £1.5m redevelopment of the centre by Alliance Leisure.

Operated by Active Nation on behalf of City of Lincoln Council since 2007, the centre had begun to outgrow its facilities with overcrowding in the gym and studio space unable to accommodate the expanding programme of classes.  The improvement programme, funded by City Of Lincoln Council, includes a new gym which increases the number of stations from 30 to 100 with new equipment, a larger free weights area and small group training space. It also includes the region’s first fully immersive group cycling studio from Les Mills with a cinema-scale screen and sound system.

A new soft play area and XHeight Adventure Climbing facility will allow the centre to increase its exercise offerings for children and expand its party packages giving it greater reach in the family market, while the Shapemaster power-assisted exercise studio, the city’s first, provides an opportunity to develop its work in rehabilitation, exercise referral and care for older people.

A new Costa ‘Proud to Serve’ café along with a new display area for the local RAF 50 & 61 Squadron Association memorabilia completes the refurbishment project, which Active Nation believes will increase its membership base from 1,000 to more than 2,000.

XHeigh Adventure Climbing

Soft Play

New Gym

Les Mills Immersive Studio

Costa Coffee Cafe

Toning Suite


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.