Frequently Asked Questions

If you’ve got a question about the proposed developments then take a look at these Frequently Asked Questions.

What are the Council’s plans for transforming the leisure centres?

We will be significantly investing to creating more modern, innovative services which better meet the needs of residents and visitors. 

We are working towards ensuring the leisure centres can meet the needs of local people, are affordable and have the right mix of facilities to positively improve people’s physical and mental health & wellbeing through physical activity.

The plans will include a review of current services and the introduction of new products to increase participation and the sustainability of the centre.

How have we decided what to do where?

We have been working to identify the types of facilities and services which would have the most impact in each area and be the most cost effective and economical to deliver. We have considered current levels of use, social data, market trends / research, current levels of demand as well as a range of other factors to ensure our proposals will have the greatest possible impact on health and levels of income. In some cases, this means improving or updating our existing facilities, however in the case of those facilities in Seaham, Bishop Auckland and Chester-le-street, it is more financially viable to consider replacing these centres.

What are the timescales/programme?

The council hopes to finalise plans at a Cabinet meeting in early 2021, after that a firmer plan for the developments will be developed and more consultation on the specifics of the proposals will follow, where there will be a clearer idea on timescales.

What have we done so far and what remains to be done?

Cabinet issued approval for the project to start in January 2020 and significant background work has been completed to date on understanding the proposals and looking at outline designs. The improvements and new leisure centre plans are all still developing and will be presented to Cabinet in early 2021, after the Cabinet decision more detailed designs and plans will follow.

Why hasn’t my leisure centre been mentioned in the plans?

We are still developing plans for some of the sites and we will consult on these as the plans become available.

How long will it take to complete the works?

The plans are still being developed and following decision by Cabinet in early 2021, the plans can be further refined, and more details added. At this stage a clearer timetable will be considered. The overall programme of transforming our leisure centres will take several years as we try to complete the programme in the most appropriate and cost-effective manner. We also aim to maintain our services as best we can during all the planned developments.

How much parking will there be, and will it include disabled parking?

As we work up our plans, we are considering parking as one of many operational considerations, particularly for the new build facilities. Where possible we will factor in enough parking and make our facilities as accessible and inclusive as we possibly can, which of course includes an appropriate provision for disabled parking.

Will the plans affect the existing facilities and services?

The council are considering all options and all possible continuity arrangements, where possible the council intends to operate services as usual, but there will inevitably be some disruption and as this becomes clear, all existing members and the wider communities will be kept fully informed.

What provision is being considered for disabled access to the facilities and services?

The council will ensure that accessibility is considered as part of each refurbishment and new build, in addition we will be consulting with a range of groups to review and ensure the proposals are as accessible as possible.

Where will the new leisure facilities in Seaham, Bishop Auckland and Chester-le-street be built?

The council are conducting a technical appraisal of a range of sites, including the existing location and Cabinet will be deciding on the locations in early 2021.

You can give your feedback on the shortlisted locations for new leisure centres here.

Why are the mix of facilities in the new leisure centre different? e.g. sports halls, courts, flumes.

We have commissioned a business plan and feasibility study which has helped inform the planned mixture of facilities at our leisure centres.  Our planned facilities and services will be different across the county, but we are planning to ensure we provide a consistent quality offer which meets the needs of local people, and to have a positive impact on their health and wellbeing. This will require the right mix of facilities, at the appropriate size to meet those needs, as well as ensuring they are affordable and generate enough participation to ensure the venue’s sustainability. 

Do I get an opportunity to influence the mix of facilities?

We have commissioned a consultant to support us in developing the facility mix, this is based on provide a similar quality offer across the county which meets the needs of local people, has a positive impact on health and wellbeing, has the right mix of facilities, is the right size to meet those needs, is affordable and that the facilities and services offered are able to generate enough income to sustain the venues into the future. 

After the Cabinet decision in early 2021, our plans will be developed further and additional consultation will follow.

Will existing Leisure Centre users be affected?

Different areas of the Leisure Centres are used for a wide variety of sports/leisure uses and clubs.  Some of these uses will be unaffected by the proposals, those that are we will contact and work with them to identify, where possible, suitable alternatives. The council are considering all options and all possible continuity arrangements, where possible the council intends to operate services as usual, but there will be some disruption. As this becomes clear, we will be consulting with all existing members and the wider communities.

What will happen to my club?

Different areas of the Leisure Centres are used for a wide variety of sports/leisure uses and clubs.  Some of these uses will be unaffected by the proposals, those that are we will contact and work with them to identify, where possible, suitable alternatives. The council are considering all options and all possible continuity arrangements, where possible the council intends to operate services as usual, but there will be some disruption. As this becomes clear, we will be consulting with all existing members and the wider communities.

Why have TAGactive and Soft Play been included in the proposals?

The suggested uses have been put forward following a review of other leisure facilities both nationally and in the area and the study of the key statistics relating to the local population. Each of the activities and services put forward have been assessed for their ability to positively affect the health & wellbeing of our customers and to sustain the venue.

What is TAGactive?

TAGactive promotes fitness, fun and competition. It is an arena-based game designed to test strategy, speed, agility, awareness and bravery. The arena is a multi-storey structure of inter-connected activity challenge areas. Each area contains approximately 5-7 challenges that require mental and physical agility. The arena is split into separated zones, permitting more people to play in the arena at anyone time.  TAGactive can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities and will provide another opportunities for a wide range of people to participate in physical activity.

What is soft play?

A large indoor active soft play frame structure that will be equipped with different play elements. Each play element will offer a challenge for children of different ages. There will be a large number of different play elements within each structure. It will offer a safe environment for children to play, make friends, interact, explore and learn which will aid their social, emotional and mental wellbeing. 

Why offer a toning room?

Toning facilities and equipment are aimed at older customers, those who have suffered injuries or illness as well as those returning to exercise, regardless of age or condition. The provide a great way to re-introduce exercise in a gentle and more controlled manner than a typical fitness offer or gym.

Why have Shildon and Meadowfield not been covered in the proposals?

We plan to develop proposals for Meadowfield at the next phase of the project in spring 2021.

Works on transforming facilities in Shildon have already commenced as a result of Sport England funding to improve the athletics track and associated facilities. The improvements are being completed now in order to benefit from an external funding opportunity.  We now plan to review the offer at Shildon to consider how all the sport and leisure facilities can best work together.

What will happen to prices and memberships?

We will be reviewing our pricing and memberships; however, it is important to us that the existing and new facilities are accessible to all our customers and as such our pricing policy and access conditions will be inclusive and fair.

I’m a concession member, will I still be able to access services at a reduced rate?

We will be reviewing our pricing policy and this will include our concession criteria, however, it is important to us that the existing and new facilities are accessible to all our customers and as such our pricing policy and access conditions will be inclusive and fair.

How can I get involved and put my point of view across?

We have provided this information on our plans to gather your thoughts on our ideas and proposals. After the Cabinet decision in early 2021 we will be progressing our plans and we will provide more opportunities for public consultation.

How will I be kept informed?

You can keep up to date by visiting the council website, through our social media feeds, through publication and materials at your local leisure centres and other locations such as libraries.

   

Accessibility Statement