Ambitious plans to revitalise Berwick's Swan Centre

The Swan Centre in Berwick is to undergo a £3.5million transformation, as part of ongoing plans to improve leisure facilities across Northumberland.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 25 July, 2016, 09:44
The Swan Centre in Berwick.

Active Northumberland board members met to consider proposals for the centre, which will be redeveloped in partnership with Northumberland County Council, to provide a new range of leisure and sport facilities for local people.

The project aims to modernise the look and feel of the centre and also address a gap in sports and leisure provision for children and young people in Berwick.

A range of new facilities are now under consideration, in consultation with local people and centre users, which may include: 10-pin bowling; a new soft play area; clip n’ climb (climbing walls); a fitness and dance studio; a café; new water features for younger children in the pool hall.

The refurbishment plans may also include an upgrade for the pool changing village plus work to improve the ventilation system in the sports hall and install new lighting in the sports hall and pool hall.

The redevelopment will mean that the Swan Centre can no longer accommodate the Berwick Bowling Club, to create space for the new activities. Club members have been informed about the plans and the county council is liaising with Sport Development teams to explore alternative provision.

Lorraine Dewison, chief executive of Active Northumberland, said: “This is a very exciting development and will completely transform and rejuvenate the centre. It’s badly needed and, we’re sure, will be much welcomed by Berwick residents.

“Under the proposals, the indoor bowling area will be closed. We understand this is a concern for the bowling club and casual players, but we will be working with the community and with the club to identify alternative provision.

“The plans we have been developing are based on listening to the views of local people and our staff, and using the same architects who recently developed our facility in Cramlington, a facility that has already proved to be very popular with residents and has had the desired effect of transforming an ageing leisure facility into a modern entertainment complex.”

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Berwick councillors campaigned for improvements to the centre and worked closely with the Labour administration to secure a £2.5million investment, with an additional £1million to ensure early benefit to the community.

Coun Gavin Jones, ward member for Berwick North, said: “I am very happy that the potential of the leisure centre in Berwick has been recognised and that a further £1million of investment has been secured on top of the previously-announced £2.5million. This £3.5million refurbishment will succeed in bringing the leisure centre into the 21st century, providing opportunities that didn’t previously exist, and improving the quality of life and activities available in Berwick. This investment will assist towards filling a gap in provision for young people in our town.”

Jim Smith, Northumberland County councillor for Berwick East, also campaigned for the development. He said: “The nearest council-funded leisure centre is in Alnwick, so this comes as an exciting development for residents, visitors, and people living on the outskirts of Berwick as well.

“The town deserves a modern leisure facility on a par with facilities in other parts of the county and there are some very big ambitions for what the Swan Centre might eventually become.

“There are mixed emotions for me, as a long-standing member of the bowls club, and it is ironic that having recently been accepted into the Scottish indoor bowling association after years of trying, that Berwick is now losing its indoor bowling facility.

“But as a councillor, it’s important to try and see the bigger picture, and recognise the fantastic potential of the leisure centre now and in years to come. I hope the residents and visitors will use it and get lots of enjoyment.”

Isabel Hunter, who represents Berwick West with Ord, added: “We’ve been working closely with the Labour administration to secure the necessary funds and to generate enthusiasm for this project, which I’m personally delighted about as the leisure centre is in my ward. We will continue to support the community, the council and Active Northumberland as the plans take shape.”

Once finalised, the plans will be displayed within the site and the new library within the town. It is hoped that the work to start the refurbishment could be as early as the end of this year.