Transforming a derelict battery manufacturing plant into a flagship health and well-being centre has been a journey spanning more than two decades for Warrington-based commercial developer Network Space.
The final piece of this 12-acre residential, retail and health development falls into place on March 2, 2020, when the Tameside Wellness Centre, Denton, Greater Manchester, opens its doors to the public - ahead of schedule.
The centre is a testament to a community regeneration scheme that transformed a derelict brownfield site that struggled for years to find a new identity and purpose.
Joe Burnett, Network Space Development Director, explained: “Network Space originally bought the 12-acre site in 2001, the tenant moved on and we cleared the old battery factory two years later. It remained dormant for some years as a series of mixed-use schemes were explored.
“Work progressed on the residential side and a small retail offering, whilst the final plans were agreed on the Centre with Tameside District Council. A few pre-construction hurdles had to be overcome such as CPOs and establishing the necessary infrastructure, but geographically this was the ideal location for the local community. We started work on this final piece of the jigsaw in November 2018, completing the project in 14 months and ahead of schedule.”
The 45,000 sq foot centre combines leisure, community and wellness facilities and provides a holistic approach to community needs. It includes an eight-lane, 25m competition swimming pool with space for 150 spectators and a learner pool; a spa area including sauna, steam and relaxation facilities; a fitness suite and a ten-pin bowling alley.
As well as the sporting and leisure offer, it also boasts a host of other wellness features including flexible meeting rooms, a children’s soft play area, multi-use studio spaces and a social interaction zone. The 12,000 sq ft roof terrace is capable of being transformed into a sensory garden and could also be used for a pop-up cinema, small theatre shows and as an open-air exercise space.
“One of the key features we wanted to maximise was the building’s accessibility and we paid special attention to inclusion.” added Joe. “Even normal disability access such as ramps were frowned upon; the ideology was, get the access design right from the beginning you don’t need to add in ramps. It was all about going that extra mile so the building could be used and enjoyed by everyone.
“We also designed in full access for wheelchair users to the pool area and installed a moving floor in the learner pool which can lower down disabled users with dignity. The development is also dementia-friendly.”
Tameside Council Executive Leader Councillor, Brenda Warrington, said: “We want to support people in keeping as active and healthy as possible and the Centre has something for everyone; from a range of top-class leisure facilities to help stay fit to community spaces and events that will bring everyone together to innovative designs that will make it accessible and creative.”
Sport England backed the scheme by providing a £1.5 million grant and the Centre was designed by Pozzoni Architecture.