In November 2019, we were engaged by Freedom Leisure, the UK-based not-for-profit leisure trust, to support the extensive refurbishment and expansion of Stour Leisure Centre.
Originally a 1970’s building, there was a need to modernise and improve the facility to serve Ashford’s growing population. Requirements included a new climbing wall, pool features, soft-play area, gym equipment and dedicated café.
One factor of strategic consideration was the need to coordinate with the council’s decarbonisation project. Another was to take advantage of the opportunity presented as a result of the UK Covid national lockdown in March 2020.
The national lockdown presented challenges as well as opportunities to project and cost management. New, ambitious, timelines were introduced, as we were now working to a shorter timeframe in an empty building. It was never more critical to work closely with our partners.
In terms of Cost Management
- We undertook an open book negotiation procurement process, supporting Local Authority community and business engagement.
- Through early-stage cost planning and value engineering £360k was released from the budget to be utilised elsewhere.
- As part of the revised strategy, the opportunity arose to incorporate a further approximately £1m of additional out-of-scope works. Through our rigorous change management processes and budget re-allocation, we were able to include this within the existing budget.
- We provided cost and time estimates to aid these timely and strategic decisions.
- We provided regular cost reports to enable confident decision-making for budget expenditure.
In terms of Project Management and Design
The three-story building was gutted, reconfigured with associated structural works and the façade refreshed. Corridor flow and access was assessed and improved. Safety and security were overhauled throughout. Amongst the new and refurbished faculties were:
- A new reception
- A new separate café with improved open plan seating area on two floors
- A new large soft play area
- A new area for wheelchair sports
- Retiling of the swimming pool
- Creation of a spin studio and an aerobics studio
- Reconfiguring of the existing gym with wet and dry changing areas
- Refurbishing of existing studios and squash courts
The newly refurbished Stour Centre, with its brand-new facilities, re-opened to the public on 1st June 2021.
- It was on time and within budget.
All successfully navigated during an extremely challenging time for all, risks turned into opportunities and all within the context of high public scrutiny.
Freedom Leisure exists to improve lives through leisure. To achieve this, we work with partners who understand and share our goals, and those of our clients. The team at Clarkson Alliance provide excellent joined up cost, project and design management which helps us make a difference.
Graham Watson, Group Facilities and Environmental Manager, Freedom Leisure
Project Management, Cost Management, Design Services
Client: Freedom Leisure for Ashford Borough Council
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