Bridgend Recreation Centre redevelopment unveiled

Recently, Labour-run Bridgend Council went into what they have called a “partnership” with Halo Leisure and Greenwich Leisure Limited, which I’ve mentioned before, to run leisure services. Part of the agreement was a redevelopment/modernisation programme at Bridgend Recreation Centre, which is the largest leisure centre in the county.

Coinciding with the London Olympic torch relay passing through the county on Saturday afternoon, the plans were submitted to Bridgend Council last week.

You can view all the documentation here.

Bridgend Council have long held ambitions for the creation of a “life centre” somewhere in the town. I believe that there were proposals for one at the current Brackla Street car park at some point, but in the recent Bridgend Town Centre Masterplan, that area is now earmarked for retail development in the medium to long term.

The proposals for Bridgend Recreation Centre include:

  • Three dedicated dance studios with movable partition walls.
  • A new state of the art fitness suite.
  • New conference facilities.
  • A new main entrance from the existing surface car park, complete with cafe, changing rooms, reception and toilets.
  • The current main entrance (in the swimming pool building) will become a retail unit at the ground floor.
  • A Thermal Suite/Spa will be built above the new retail unit.
  • A new indoor play facility, dubbed “Play Kingdom”, complete with climbing wall and space for children’s parties.
  • A good chunk of the sports hall will be demolished due to “wasted space”, and the actual size of the sports hall will be reduced to 4 courts.
  • There will be no changes to the swimming pool itself or its facilities, other than the creation of a “pool viewing area”.
  • The main building will be re-clad with panels to improve aesthetics and energy efficiency.
  • There are no proposed changes to the Bowls facilities.

In the original application, there was a 450sqm library over two floors in the sports hall building. This appears to have been (rather “dramatically”) dropped in the amended plans, submitted only a few day later, replaced with non-specific”activity space”. It looks as if the current Carnegie library on Wyndham Street will remain in the short to medium term. I’m not sure if this sudden change is just going to cause more speculation and question marks over the library’s future than needs be.
The reduction in the size of the sports hall hints that some facilities might be split between the “Rec” and the new Archbishop McGrath RC school in Brackla, which has its own astroturf pitch (and possibly Island Farm if it gets off the ground). There have already been complaints in the local press, in particular about squash facilities.

I actually believe using schools – especially new-built ones -as leisure centres is a good idea that should be replicated across Wales.

However, I’m not sure if reducing the size of a major central venue like the Rec is sending out the right message – even if it brings the sports facilities up to the required standards.

Demolishing quite a significant part of the centre, instead thinking of new uses for that space, also seems odd to me.