Denbighshire Housing is bucking the national trend for playground closures by investing in play areas across the county.
Working with leisure development specialists Alliance Leisure Services and equipment providers HAGS, Denbighshire has invested almost £900,000 over the last three years in upgrading and improving playgrounds across its housing estates.
Denbighshire Housing has spent more than £420,000 this year alone in renovating play areas in Ruthin, Cynwyd, Rhyl and Henllan with a variety of modern and challenging play equipment. The playgrounds include dedicated areas for children aged two to four years and for those aged four and above.
Specialist equipment has also been installed to make the playgrounds accessible for children with disabilities, along with accessible footpaths, replacement fencing and wet pour surfacing to ensure they can be used all year round.
In addition to the upgrades, a new play park has been built in Rhuallt following consultations with local people. Located in an old school field, the new development will bring play facilities to the community for the first time.
“We want to encourage children to learn through play, which is why our play areas and landscaping improvement programme has started taking shape. We have a planned programme for refurbishments as it is really important to invest in outdoor play and activities for children in safe environments. We also want well maintained and attractive places to live for our communities,” says Tony Thomas, Denbighshire’s lead member for Housing, Regulation and the Environment.
Importantly, Denbighshire Housing will inspect, monitor and repair the play areas to ensure they remain safe, clean and inviting for the future.
“Denbighshire understands the value of play and the important role it plays in the lives of children. Hundreds of playgrounds are being closed across the UK at a time of rising levels of childhood obesity. Denbighshire Housing is one of the few organisations that remains committed to safeguarding the future of its play provision and thereby the health and wellbeing of local children,” says Will Gardner, Business Development Manager, Alliance Leisure.
Alliance Leisure worked with ISG to build a 25m swimming pool and spa within the existing structure of a sports hall. We talk to Mark Gibson, ISG site manager, about this impressive feat of construction engineering.
Q. How did you come to be involved in the scheme?
Alliance Leisure appointed us as principle build contractor to refurbish and extend Monmouth Leisure Centre in South Wales. The £7.4m project was the 18th scheme that Alliance Leisure had awarded us through the UK Leisure Framework. It has certainly been one of the most complicated, but anything is possible with the right team and procurement approach.
Q. What was the brief?
Monmouthshire County Council wanted to 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. The project would provide a raft of new facilities including a new gym, studios, a toning suite, children’s play area and café. The town had been without a public pool for some years, so the council also wanted the development to include a 25m pool and a spa.
Q. What made the project so complex?
The leisure centre shares its site and some of its facilities with Monmouth Comprehensive School. At the time of the redevelopment, a new home for the school was being built to the left of the leisure centre. With the existing school sitting to the right of the centre, the only place to put the pool was in the leisure centre’s sports hall.
The combination of the location of the leisure centre between the old and new schools, just one access road into the site and 2,000 pupils passing the live construction site every hour made the logistics of the project hugely challenging. We always knew this was going to be a difficult project, but logistically it was more challenging than projects I have run in central London.
Before work could begin on the pool, we had to erect a temporary sports hall to accommodate the school and community while the project was ongoing. We built temporary facilities for the London 2012 Olympics, so were able to construct a high spec, four-court hall in six weeks that was bigger and better than its permanent predecessor.
Q. How did you overcome the challenges?
We worked with Alliance Leisure to develop innovative solutions to a number of challenges caused by the logistical constraints of the site. A single narrow strip – 1.5m at its thinnest point – provided the only access to the hall. We had to remove a section of the elevation to get the necessary piling equipment and plant machinery into the building to facilitate the work.
We stripped the building back to its shell and treated with spray-on insultation to protect and seal the hall and prevent any impact onto the adjoining dry site.
Monmouth has soft ground as well as a high water table, which called for some innovative temporary works solutions and creative piling designs to support the new swimming pool.
The existing concrete slab in the sports hall needed to be broken out before excavation work could commence. However, traditional temporary works solutions could not be implemented due to logistical constraints. An innovative solution was developed to install a king-post wall to form a u-shape around the deep end of the pool. I-beam posts were driven into the bedrock at 1.2m intervals and then railway sleepers were slotted between the beams on top of one another to form a sacrificial support structure. Another bespoke element saw the use of steel tube piles instead of CFA piles. This solution minimised noise and vibration and reduced the volume of arisings produced.
We also used a sprayed concrete system to cast the slab and walls of the pool. Rejecting a typical formwork solution, again due to logistical constraints and to provide a quicker application, we used a specialist lightweight concrete mix. This unorthodox approach delivered significant time savings – with the entire pool completed within a week and designed, built and tested to BS EN 1992-3:2006 standards.
Q. What made this a successful project?
Construction is not about putting blocks on top of each other; it’s about creativity, innovation and changing perceptions. Thanks to our successful partnership with Alliance Leisure, we were able to take a pragmatic approach to the project, value engineering as and when necessary. This included redesigning the spa area to make better use of the space and include a treatment room. You can only make these types of improvements on projects where you have such close collaboration.
To view more details on the Monmouth development visit our case studies page here
We are delighted to hear that tmactive are finalists in the Community Leisure UK Awards 2019. Nominated in the Capital Investment category for the recent Development Project at Larkfield Leisure Centre delivered in partnership with Alliance Leisure, the Community Leisure UK awards aim to recognise, showcase and honour the extraordinary impact of public leisure and cultural services throughout England, Scotland and Wales.
The £1 million redevelopment project was funded entirely by tmactive, with a further £200,000 provided by Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council for replacement gym equipment.
The two phased project took 9 months to complete and included building two new group exercise studios and Kent’s first Immersive Spin Studio, providing local people with over 150 group exercises classes to choose from each week.
During Phase 2 of the project, the Gym was extended and redesigned to include brand new market-leading Technogym cardiovascular and resistance equipment which incorporates new Unity screens, providing touch ID, personalization, exercise programming and customer contact software. In addition, a brand new dedicated Functional Training Area was added, complete with the UK’s largest 12 station Outrace Rig that offers scheduled group HIIT and HIIT Circuit classes.
Martin Guyton, tmactive’s Chief Executive is extremely pleased to be nominated for the award: “This was the largest single investment we have made into one our centres since we took over the management from the Borough Council five years ago. Our customers told us they wanted more exercise classes as well as a bigger and better gym, and that’s what we delivered.”
Exmouth Leisure Centre’s phase 2 development is now underway as part of the £800k investment in the facility. This phase will see the refurbishment of the wet changing areas and is part-funded by £180k from Sport England and £180k from East Devon District Council. LED Leisure Management Ltd are providing the remaining funds.
Work has been completed on phase 2 of the leisure development at Bradley Stoke Leisure Centre. The 850k investment in the centre, operated by Circadian Trust, sees the sports hall converted into 17-wall XHeight climbing centre and large play centre. As part of the extension the Soho cafe was also refurbished and extended.
Phase 2b now continues and will reveal a new gym to the community at the end of November.
Alliance Leisure were proud to collect their Investors In the Environment (iiE) Silver Accreditation Award at the annual ceremony held at Peterborough’s Kingsgate Conference Centre on the 2nd February 2016.
Tom Fairey, Business Development Manager for Alliance Leisure collects the company accreditation
Investors in the Environment (iiE) is a national initiative to recognise and accredit companies that commit to green practices in all they do, and strive to maintain and improve them. After a recent assessment of Alliance’s energy efficiency and environmental impact throughout the business, the company were accredited with the iiE Silver Award, acknowledging the contribution to green initiatives and good practice.
Launched last month at the ukActive Flame conference Alliance Digital will provide marketing services to the leisure industry and will continue to provide Digital solutions to Alliance’s existing clients.
John Leaver, previously Head of Partnerships, will move across to manage the Digital Division as Head of Digital. “This is such an exciting opportunity for Alliance and our clients, ” Leaver commented. “We have been providing Digital marketing services for the past few years but feel now is the time to create this dedicated team. We’ll be supporting our existing clients with some new products as well as introducing these to the rest of the industry.”
The services offered by Alliance Digital will include:
Email Marketing, including SMS outbound and inbound handling
After the hush of December comes the rush in the New Year. Sites plan, prepare, promote, sell, chase, prospect, sell again in the hope of smashing that elusive sales target. But is your attention too focused on the conveyor belt of new sales rather than looking after those new and existing members who’ve been with you through the chocolate-enticing, turkey-filled December?
Does your New Year promotion brief mention retaining these new customers? A member’s lifetime value is heavily affected by their experience during the first month after joining. And that starts on their very first visit to have a look around. This is a great opportunity to show the customer how you will support them on their quest to achievetheir health and fitness goals. Member testimonial displays and ‘meet the staff’ boards will give them confidence that your club really can make a difference.
So what happens next? A compulsory group induction for health and safety reasons or a 1-to-1 personalised appointment asking the right lifestyle questions to uncover their likes, dislikes, exercise history, barriers, exercise habits, reasons and goals. You decide which sounds more enticing! Remind your fitness team that goal setting is more than accepting ‘get fit’ or ‘lose weight’ as a goal, and that SMART goals are the way forward. Take some measurements, where appropriate, to define a starting point and set clear, achievable and enjoyable objectives. All customers should be then be booked a second appointment to start their member journey and receive their personalised exercise programme. A welcome letter, guest passes for friends, advice on other facility activities all help to make that welcome a little more special.
But what if the customer throws in the towel before even starting and doesn’t come back for that second appointment? Having a customer contact strategy that identifies these customers and does something about it is essential. Regular contact with members is not a bad thing (despite rumours of waking sleeping members). Yes, we wouldn’t want to particularly contact a customer we haven’t seen in 6 months but why have we left it so long anyway? Identifying your ‘at-risk’ customers on a daily or weekly basis will help lower your cancellation rate if you contact them to get them re-started.
And for those customers making the repeat visits let’s not forget how important interactions are – not just with the fitness team but with all members of staff they come into contact with. A fantastic interaction is one that causes the customer to make another visit within 7 days, ideally using a fitness challenge to encourage them to do so. There are many excuses for interacting with customers; gym challenges, referral incentives, re-programme opportunity, technique correction, spotting, new exercises, class suggestion, new member introduction. Your fitness team should have a bank of these tools so they can never say they don’t know how to approach a member.
So finally, let’s not just concentrate on the gym. How are you looking after your class members and swimmers? The industry knows that encouraging visits in the early weeks of membership delivers longer length of stay, so how are you incentivising these groups to come back? Suggesting which classes best suit the individual and then booking their first 2 or 3 might encourage a few more visits than they had planned that week. Offer your swimmers a swim clinic drop-in session where they can get advice on technique or a personal programme setting. Set challenges that reward on attendance and get all your staff promoting length of stay and not just the initial sale.
January is a great month for new sales and February is just as good, so don’t miss the opportunity to keep these new members longer than last year. Would you rather have 100 new sales who stay a couple of months or 100 new sales who are still with you in 2016? Look after your existing members, motivate your new customers to keep up the new regime and identify those who are most at-risk of dropping off. Good luck.