Progress to create one of Northern Ireland’s newest and largest public leisure complexes took a leap forward recently as the final bolts to the roof of the new £35 million centre in Craigavon were finally moved into place.
The ‘topping out’ ceremony – which marks a key stage in construction where the building reaches its highest point – kicks off a fresh workstream of internal and external work that will rapidly gather pace ahead of its grand opening launch next year. When completed, the new world class South Lake Leisure Centre will be among Northern Ireland’s most modern, state-of-the-art leisure centres with picturesque views. Fit for modern needs and constructed against exacting new building requirements, it will transform leisure provision in the area for generations.
Due to open in autumn 2020, the stunning facility will incorporate an impressive eight-lane,50-metre swimming pool, a 1,000m2 gym – the largest anywhere on the island of Ireland – and an extensive outdoor water sports provision.
Also featuring an eight-court sports hall, studios, activity rooms, soft play area, health and beauty suite and a café, all in a cutting-edge building carefully designed to be accessible to all, it is the largest capital investment ever undertaken by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council. As part of the council’s commitment to maintaining high levels of spend within the local market and among small to medium-sized enterprises, it commissioned Farrans through the Scape Procure National Construction – Major Works England and Northern Ireland framework to build the new leisure centre.
Scape’s collaborative ethos involves engaging with approved local businesses, sub-contractors and suppliers, ensuring that the project provides significant employment opportunities for residents and businesses in the area. Local businesses already involved in the scheme include Callan Construction, D&K Systems, Taranto Piling, GM Wall Tracking and J&C Agencies.
Project Director, Andrew Stevenson said the South Lakes build is currently the largest Scape project underway in Northern Ireland.
“It works very well,” said Andrew. “As well as ensuring we have the best contractors working on the project it allows us to directly engage with the local community. We have a social engagement officer who is involved in areas such as working with the long- term unemployed or in schools and showing young people pathways into the construction industry.
“It also allows the council to demonstrate its commitment to the local community by, not only, building the leisure centre, but ensuring that it provides employment for a large number of local businesses.”
Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Cllr Mealla Campbell, said: “The new South Lake Leisure Centre will serve as an icon for Craigavon and the wider borough and its creation underlines our commitment to provide the very best amenities for residents and visitors for decades to come.
“This outstanding, breathtaking facility will provide an unrivalled health and wellbeing provision which will improve the quality, health and wellbeing of our citizens and deliver an exciting platform of opportunity to encourage and inspire greater sports participation and achievement at a local, national and international level.
“This new high-performance South Lake Leisure Centre will be a hive of activity, reflecting the vibrancy and ambition of the borough and the people we represent.”
Construction of the new complex has created hundreds of jobs, with around 500 full-time workers signed up to complete the build. Warren Wright,
Regional Director at Farrans Construction, said: “As one of the UK and Ireland’s most experienced construction leaders, we’re delighted to be celebrating this pivotal build milestone. From design through to development, we’re also incredibly proud to be involved in the creation of one of the best health and sporting facilities anywhere in these islands which when complete will be available to all. “We have an excellent construction track record and I’m pleased to report that we are well on track to open next year.”
Plans for the new leisure complex are part of a wider regeneration programme across the ABC area. It’s proposed a new leisure village facility will be built in Armagh to replace the current Orchard Leisure Centre, although this project is still at the early stages.