The redevelopment of Cheltenham’s leisure centre is gathering pace as the project enters detailed design paving the way for building work to begin this autumn, as part of an ambitious plan to develop a Sport and Play Hub for the town.

The Cheltenham Trust, which manages and develops Leisure at Cheltenham on behalf of Cheltenham Borough Council, has appointed development partner Alliance Leisure to conduct the detailed design work under the new UK Leisure Framework as part of a five year strategy that will encourage greater participation across all Trust venues by local people, promoting and attracting visitors to the town.

This phase 1 development aims to meet the growing and changing demands on the facilities at Leisure at Cheltenham. It will enable more people to get active, provide more opportunities for families and young people and those enjoying and working on their health and fitness.

The proposals include extending the gym to expand the health and fitness offer increasing the centre’s capacity to meet the needs of health-related activities, such as GP referral and physiotherapy programmes.

Two of the centre’s five squash courts will be converted into two new studios, while the sports changing area will be upgraded with the inclusion of new sauna and steam room facilities. The project also includes the conversion of the existing health suite into an aquatics play space, developing and extending the aquatics opportunities for families with young children and allowing the commercial hire of the space for children’s parties.

The project is being funded by a loan of up to £1.5m from Cheltenham Borough Council.

The improvements will ensure Leisure at Cheltenham continues to meet customer expectations in a highly competitive local market. Aside from an upgrade in gym equipment in 2013, there has been no significant investment in the centre since it re-opened in 2008 following severe flood damage.

Peter Harkness, Chair of The Cheltenham Trust said: “Cheltenham is already recognised regionally and nationally for its culture and leisure offering, and we want to continue to build on this, creating a unique place that contributes to the social, cultural and economic value of the town and enriching the lives of residents and visitors. The Sport and Play Hub at Leisure at Cheltenham is an important first step in realising this.”

Julie Finch CEO for The Cheltenham Trust commented: “We know that this project is just the start of the development of what will be an absolute game changer as the Sport and Play Hub develops and the Trust creates a regional destination which will be open not only to the people of Cheltenham but people far and wide.”

“Alliance delivers projects throughout the UK, but as a south west-based company we are excited to be working with such a forward-thinking trust and local authority in improve a centre in our home region and will be looking to engage local suppliers and trades as much as possible. Our MD Paul Cluett ran Cheltenham’s leisure facilities some 20 years ago, and so is particularly looking forward to delivering these great enhancements,” says Julia Goddard, Business Development Manager at Alliance Leisure.

The UK Leisure Framework launched in February to make it easier and more cost-effective for public sector leisure providers to scope, develop and deliver physical leisure developments as well as cultural and marketing related services.

Since it took over the running of Leisure at Cheltenham, Cheltenham Town Hall, Pittville Pump Room, Prince of Wales Stadium and The Wilson Art Gallery and Museum, The Cheltenham Trust has focused on improving the quality of customer and audience experience through a number of investment programmes, resulting in significant annual savings to Cheltenham Borough Council of £1.025m on revenue expenditure over a five year period delivered through efficiencies and income growth.