It is a busy time of year for gyms and leisure centres as new members join up to fulfil new year resolutions. But contractors working in the sector are also becoming more active on the back of rising investment in the construction of new and updated leisure facilities to meet growing demand.
Glenigan Construction data shows that the value of project starts for indoor leisure facilities and cinemas rose by 62% in the three months to December, compared to the period in 2018. Work worth £200 million got underway in the fourth quarter on more projects such as swimming pools, health and fitness centres, dance studios, bowls centres and the like.
Improving development pipeline
Moreover, it comes against a background of an improving development pipeline across the wider hotel & leisure sector, particularly for smaller projects. Glenigan Construction data shows that the value of work approved in the sector was £2,167 million in the three months to December, up 49% on a year previously.
The upturn in construction in the sector comes as leisure operators adapt to a changing market for their offer. According to Savills, younger consumers particularly are seeking to combine eating and drinking out with some form of ‘experience’; be it urban golf or ping pong bars. Leisure facilities are also becoming key to the success of major retail developments with concepts such as virtual reality and ‘immersive’ digital experiences helping to attract shoppers.
The long-term potential for construction work in the leisure sector should also be good. According to the Local Government Association, nearly two thirds of leisure centres are outdated and need urgent new investment. Figures from Sport England show that up to 63 per cent of sports halls and swimming pools are more than 10 years old and nearly a quarter have not been refurbished in over 20 years. The association is calling for a £500 million pot to renovate facilities in the coming Budget.
Major leisure developments
Glenigan Construction data highlights a series of major leisure developments where construction work is set to get underway in 2020. At Eastbourne on the south coast, work is set to start this summer on a major £29.1 million redevelopment of the council’s Royal Parade Leisure Centre which will involve three swimming pools, a 1,200 sq m trampoline park and a 130-station gym. Bam Construction is the main contractor on the project, where work is expected to run for 16 months (Glenigan Project ID: 18324734).
Meanwhile in Cumbria, construction work is set to start this spring on a £26 million redevelopment of Carlisle City Council’s Sands Leisure Centre. The scheme includes two swimming pools, a four-court sports hall and spectators’ area and work is expected to continue over 21 months (Glenigan Project ID: 17254404).
Further south in Surrey, detailed plans have been granted and work is poised to start on the new Camberley Leisure Centre which will replace an existing facility with a privately funded scheme valued at £20.7 million and covering some 7,174 sq m of floor space (Glenigan Project ID: 19212532).
New leisure facilities are also playing a significant role in the major urban regeneration schemes taking shape in big cities. The huge £1.5 billion redevelopment scheme being planned at Birmingham Smithfield for example, includes a ‘leisure quarter’ to appeal to families and with cultural attractions. It will be built alongside 2,000 new homes and 300,000 sq m of commercial space. Lendlease is the main contractor on the Birmingham City Council scheme where work is set to start early in 2022 (Glenigan Project ID: 15321175).
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