Work on building the flagship Tameside Wellness Centre has started on site after a construction contract was signed by Tameside Council and developers, Network Space.

Sport England has also backed the innovative project, which combines leisure, community and wellness facilities, by providing a £1.5 million grant.

Network Space is delivering the £15 million scheme on behalf of Tameside Council on brownfield land next to the new Denton link road, Lance Corporal Andrew Breeze Way, in the heart of Denton.

The new facility at the former Oldham Batteries site will bring to Tameside an eight-lane, 25metre, competition swimming pool with room for 150 spectators, learner pool, a spa area including sauna, steam and treatment facilities, fitness suite and ten-pin bowling alley.

However, it is also much more than a leisure centre, boasting a host of wellness features that will benefit the whole community.

These include meeting rooms, free wi-fi, a children’s soft play area and multi-use studio spaces. Instead of a foyer there will be a social interaction zone – a cultural area that could host everything from a history talk to a string quartet, to children’s ‘Time for a Rhyme’ sessions or just used to relax and read the books available.

The roof space will be transformed into a sensory garden and could also be used for a pop-up cinema, small theatre or open air exercise space.

The architecturally striking centre has been designed by Pozzoni Architecture to be accessible by all, with disabled access to the swimming pool and dementia friendly design used throughout the development.

The project received planning approval in July 2018 with an expected completion date of spring 2020. Willmott Dixon has been appointed for the construction and the centre will be managed by Active Tameside. There will be opportunities for apprenticeships.

Tameside Council Executive Leader, Councillor Brenda Warrington said:

“I’m thrilled that work is underway to build Tameside Wellness Centre and I can’t wait for this exciting development to be ready for our residents. It will not only extend the range of top-class sports and leisure facilities that Tameside offers but include wellness facilities for all, from a children’s soft play area to dementia friendly designs, as well as innovative features, such as a rooftop sensory garden.

“We want to support people in keeping as active and healthy as possible and Tameside Wellness Centre will provide even more exciting activities and options that everyone can benefit from. I’m delighted with the backing and funding that Sport England is providing and the support of our partners in bringing these fabulous designs to realisation.”

Stephen Barnes, Managing Director (Development) at Network Space, said:

“Letting this contract is the final piece of the jigsaw in the regeneration of this major town centre site and we are delighted that works have now started.

“The project has demanded patience from all those involved as we have successfully worked through the land assembly, infrastructure, planning and design stages of the project. Throughout these stages, our partnership with Tameside Council has been crucial and we are very pleased to now be delivering such an important project on their behalf, which will provide superb facilities offering enjoyment and health benefits to the local community for years to come.”

Charles Johnston, Property Director at Sport England, said: 

“Having easily-accessible sporting centres in the right area is a key part of getting the nation active, and any investment that Sport England makes with National Lottery funding is designed with the community’s needs at its heart. We are delighted to see the construction of the Tameside Wellness Centre begin and hope it will support more people to get active so they can enjoy the health benefits it brings.”