Wish-list for Swan Centre is compiled
A drop-in session to discuss plans for Berwick's new leisure centre has revealed high demand for the retention of an indoor bowling facility.
Two years ago, when previous plans to redevelop the Swan Centre were discussed, indoor bowling was not going to be accommodated.
Bowling enthusiasts showed they do not want a repeat situation by turning out in numbers at Tuesday’s drop-in at the town hall, organised by the Berwick Regeneration Commission.
As a result, indoor bowling was the most requested sport to be provided in the new £20million facility.
There was further good news for bowlers when they raised concerns about the current green being used for other activities which has created issues around hygiene and the protection of the surface.
Berwick’s county councillors, Georgina Hill, Gregah Roughead and Catherine Seymour, have now arranged for a cover, costing around £5,000, to be immediately procured to protect the green and which can be transferred to the new leisure centre.
In a statement, the trio said: “The purpose of the drop-in session, which will be the first of several, was to gather residents’ views on what they would like to see in our new leisure centre.
“However, in light of the immediate issues raised by indoor bowlers who attended the meeting, we have arranged for the indoor bowls green to have a proper cover. We are grateful to the chief executives of Active Northumberland and Northumberland County Council who have agreed to this so swiftly.
“While there is no magic wand and there cannot be any guarantees that all
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requests will be able to be met, this provides further evidence that the powers to be are listening and acting on what we and residents are saying to them.”
Those attending the drop-in were told that core facilities such as a swimming pool, gym, sports hall, cafe and soft play will be provided.
They were asked to fill in a questionnaire on which supplementary activities they would like to see. Indoor bowling, badminton, table tennis, water sports and 10-pin bowling were the most popular choices, while there was also support for tennis, the introduction of swimming galas, dedicated rooms for exercise classes and a sprung dance floor.
Key figures from Northumberland County Council and Active Northumberland were also in attendance.
It was revealed that work on the design briefs has gone out to tender with further public consultation expected to take place in February when residents will get a clearer idea of the plans.
It is envisaged that a final decision will be taken in March with a planning application submitted by April and building work starting as soon as permission is granted.
Mark Tweedie, chief executive of Active Northumberland, said: “It will be a phased approach so we can keep key facilities such as the swimming pool and gym open all the way through.
“We have gone out to tender on design briefs and developers will come back with their ideas on how it can be done and in the timeframe.
“It will have all the conventional things you’d expect to find in a leisure centre such as a large pool, small pool, cafe, gym, studious and sports hall and then we need to look at what other elements it will have.
“We want it to be a really high quality provision, a great wet weather facility and a vibrant place to bring your family.”
The facility will also provide a range of services linked to health and well-being.