AN important milestone has been reached in the £25m project to redevelop a sport and entertainment venue.

Demolition is set to start on part of the existing Sands Centre building in Carlisle to make way for improved facilities including a new swimming pool.

As part of its enabling works, Carlisle City Council and GLL, the council’s leisure provider, have put in place a temporary leisure facility at the nearby Newman’s School. This has now reopened following the recent national lockdown.

“This is another important step forward for The Sands redevelopment, said Carlisle City Council leader John Mallinson.

"Even through challenging times, the project and works have continued. Thanks to all the project team for moving this important community facility forward.

“The Sands Centre redevelopment is a major project that will provide significant benefits. It represents a cornerstone in our plans to support our communities to continue to improve their health and wellbeing.

"There is a necessity to do the work. Carlisle desperately needs new swimming facilities. This is a one-off opportunity with a dual benefit of all the facilities being on one site.”

Contractor Wates Construction will undertake the works - to be carried out in strict accordance with Covid-19 operating procedures, and carefully planned to avoid disruption to the existing Sands Centre building.

Preliminary works started on The Sands Centre redevelopment scheme in February.

The new Sands Centre building will be set across two storeys and accessed by a bespoke, internal street, the new build extension will add 40,000sq ft to the existing building, with the redeveloped centre offering state-of-the-art facilities including a 25m main pool and a 20m learner pool complete with an innovative moveable floor.

There will also be improvements to the existing events hall, four court sports hall with a spectator gallery, a 120 station fitness suite, and a spinning studio. It will also boast a café and bar area and dance studios.

The project will also consolidate the existing arrangements with the North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust Musculoskeletal (MSK) team. The MSK team already provide treatment services at The Sands Centre but will be able to expand their services and develop new joint/collective treatment and rehabilitation activities with GLL and other partners.

The improved facilities will include a range of sustainable features which will support Carlisle City Council’s plans for reducing carbon emissions, improving energy efficiency and providing sustainable, healthy transport options.

Construction on The Sands Centre redevelopment is scheduled to be completed by late autumn 2022. The existing Pools provision on James Street will remain in place until all construction at The Sands Centre has been completed.

The arts and entertainment programme (subject to Covid-19) will continue to take place at The Sands Centre during the build.

Dave Saville, business unit director for Wates Construction in the North West, said: “This is an incredibly ambitious and complex build, but one which will be of real benefit to for the community in Carlisle.

"We’ve been working with the council around feasibility of this project since 2018, and seeing construction start on site is testament to the hard work of our teams, design partners and the client, who have all been so committed to making this leisure project a reality.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has brought public health and wellbeing into sharp focus and it’s reassuring to see councils invest in state-of-the-art hubs like this. Not only do they create a vital new resource for the community, but also benefit the local supply chain and provide valuable training opportunities for young people looking to start careers in construction.

As part of Wates’ commitment to supporting the local community, it will provide several opportunities for local people including 10 work placements, and 7 apprenticeships, as well as offering work-based education opportunities for Carlisle students.