Another of the borough’s leisure centres has reopened its doors after a major refurbishment – and with a little big splash!
Children from The Quinta Primary School were first to test the water in the new big pool at Congleton Leisure Centre, following a civic opening by the mayor of Cheshire East, Councillor Rod Fletcher.
The £10m plus revamp by Cheshire East Council represents a further boost to the borough’s leisure facilities, many of which have also received significant recent investment.
Cheshire East boasts 16 leisure centres, all managed and run by the borough’s leisure trust Everybody Health and Leisure.
Congleton is the latest to undergo a large-scale refurbishment, which has completely transformed its exterior design and the interior activities space and facilities, taking the borough’s leisure offer to a new level.
Spacious parking with electric vehicle charging points and eight sheltered bike racks for cyclists add to the expanse of the Worrall Street complex, constructed by local contractor, Pulse Design and Build.
The centre was officially opened on Wednesday (28 June) by the mayor and former Olympic athlete and guest of honour Congleton resident, Ann Brightwell MBE who, as Ann Packer, won gold and silver medals in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
Of the several meeting rooms available for booking, one is named the Ann Brightwell suite, which contains a colourful mural wall dedicated to Ann as a young athlete.
There are two swimming pools, thermal suite with sauna, steam room and tropical shower, a 100-station gym, soft play area for children, and a Taste for Life café. Wheelchair users can use their own changing room and a special lift, enabling straightforward access to the pool.
Councillor Mick Warren, Cheshire East Council’s chair of the environment and communities committee, said: “I have had the opportunity to look around this refurbished leisure centre and the end result is first class.
“Yes, we encountered a few hurdles on the way, including the Covid pandemic, but we are here now, and the newly revamped Congleton Leisure Centre is complete and represents yet another milestone achievement for Cheshire East Council and Everybody Health and Leisure.
“I am sure all those using the centre will be impressed with its amazing facilities and will accept that it’s been well worth the wait.”
Thomas Barton, chief executive of Everybody Health and Leisure, the borough’s leisure trust, now running the centre, said: “The health and wellbeing of Cheshire East residents are important to the council and to Everybody and we wanted to set a new, high standard for what we can offer in terms of leisure facilities in Cheshire East, while also creating job opportunities for more than 70 people from local communities.
“I would like to thank and congratulate Cheshire East Council for their continued investment in this facility for the local area, recognising the value and importance of health and leisure provision.”
Contractors first broke ground in the summer of 2021 when the country was in the grip of the Covid pandemic, with lockdowns and social distancing causing considerable disruption to construction projects and the country’s economy.
Despite this, and other obstacles which had to be overcome, Congleton Leisure Centre’s reconstruction continued with no interruption and now extends to more than 3,300 square metres, almost twice its original size.
In December 2021 children from The Quinta, renowned for its sports achievements, used indelible marker pens to sign a piece of steel, creating a simple time capsule. Then, on the evening of the official opening of the centre, children from the same school, counted down by the mayor, became the first to jump into the pool in what was described as the ‘little big splash’!
Head of PE, Alison Cope, said: “They were absolutely thrilled to be doing this. It’s been great for the school to become so closely involved with this project and I am sure many of them, and their families, will be taking advantage of the amazing facilities the centre has to offer.”