Haverhill Leisure Centre Transformation Punches Above its Weight

Abbeycroft Leisure, working in Partnership with Alliance Leisure, has achieved an incredible leisure centre makeover in Suffolk. The seven month transformation project has seen a tired and under-used facility reworked into a modern activity hub, all within the existing footprint, all within a budget of £1.5 million, provided by West Suffolk Council.

“The images speak for themselves”, says Tom Fairey, Senior Business Development Manager and project lead at Alliance Leisure. “Working closely with Abbeycroft Leisure and West Suffolk Council we have created a vibrant, modern environment which caters for the whole community and stands out as one of the county’s leading leisure destinations.”

Forming part of West Suffolk Council’s Indoor Sports Facility Strategy, 2015-2031, the investment has been provided to create a resilient, healthy and active community whilst also providing opportunities for economic growth. The project was managed by Alliance Leisure and procured through the UK Leisure Framework.

Tom Fairey, continues: “It is incredible what has been achieved through a reallocation of space across two floors of the 3,097 square foot building. We retained 2-courts in the sports hall and the rest of the space – equivalent to 3 courts, has been remodelled to create a vibrant XHeight Adventure Climbing facility and soft play zone like nothing else available locally. The community was lacking a facility where families could enjoy time together. This development has successfully addressed this issue.”

The development works have also incorporated the Self Centre Health and Wellbeing facility. This area is served by its own, dedicated waiting space and houses three studios, used mainly for holistic classes such as Pilates and Yoga, plus 5 therapy rooms. The facility’s main occupier is Allied Health Professionals (Suffolk) who are the NHS commissioned provider of MSK physiotherapy services. In addition to enhancing the community wellness offer, this provides a rental opportunity for Abbeycroft Leisure, creating a consistent, new, revenue stream.

The gym has been relocated, extended and kitted out with Matrix Fitness equipment plus a large, new studio space has been created which can be separated into two by a central, sliding wall. Space previously dedicated to two under-used squash courts has been reallocated to house a dedicated group cycle studio and modern ‘hot desk’ office space for staff.

Male and female changing rooms have been completely renovated to create a modern ‘changing village’ and a Paddy and Scott café has been incorporated to create a social hub where families and individuals can enjoy a wide selection of quality food and beverages.

Speaking of the development, Warren Smyth, CEO Abbeycroft Leisure, says: “The leisure centre has been completely remodelled to reflect the needs of our modern day community. Since the development completed in January, we have attracted a 32% increase in footfall and revenue is up 16 per cent for the first quarter. We are also seeing uptake from a much wider demographic.

“Based on our experience, I would encourage any Local Authority with an ageing leisure stock to explore opportunities. Tired facilities with a disconnect to the community are a huge drain on already limited resource but we have proved, even with limited capital investment, it is possible to create a sustainable environment which reengages the community and delivers economic, health and social benefits.

“In these times of austerity, we need to look for creative ways to better serve our communities and, working with Alliance Leisure and West Suffolk Council, this is exactly what we have done here.”