Construction work is now underway to refurbish and remodel the Newbiggin Sports and Community Centre with the award-winning architect, Howarth Litchfield, responsible for architecture and interior design and Brims Construction (Brims), the appointed building contractor.
Both firms won the work from Northumberland County Council and Active Northumberland following a competitive tender which was awarded based on an assessment of experience and ability.
The £1.9m scheme is one of a series of investments by Northumberland County Council across the county’s sports facilities aimed at providing local communities with much improved leisure amenities.
The work to be undertaken is extensive and has necessitated the closure of the centre during construction.
Following construction, the centre will provide a new and improved ground floor gym area, which will be refurbished and reconfigured to provide a dedicated cycling/spinning studio while the first floor will be converted into a new gym area with weights and state-of-the-art cardio equipment.
In addition, the three squash courts and viewing gallery will be refurbished and the six-court sports hall upgraded.
Explaining the extent of the interior refurbishment and the design approach taken, Neil Turner, director of Howarth Litchfield, said: “We are developing a new, open plan community hub with modern library resources breathing new life and vibrancy into a tired, existing building.
“The hub will provide modern facilities by creating an inviting and relaxing interior with the smart use of contemporary finishes, integrated furniture and flexible units. A modern ceiling with integrated functional and feature LED lighting will further improve this dynamic space. The toilet provision to this area will also receive a complete overhaul with modern finishes, fixtures and fittings.
“The remaining community areas will receive a decorative refresh further enhanced with replacement LED lights, while the central entrance will be re-focused and the changing area completely remodelled to provide an uplifting, fully inclusive facility to energise and enthuse any sports enthusiast.”
Howarth Litchfield and Brims have found themselves appointed to the same project several times over the last few years on new build, refurbishment and renovation projects including the Sixth Form Centre at Royal Grammar School, Newcastle, the construction of MACQ Theatre in Sunderland, where work has recently drawn to a close and in 2020, the two companies worked together on the refurbishment of Neville Hall, a listed building in central Newcastle. These schemes have allowed their teams the opportunity to develop an appreciation of the other’s skills.
Additionally, as part of the same series of sports centre refurbishments, Brims has recently completed the £5m Blyth Sports Centre refurbishment, so was well placed to take on this latest project, which is scheduled for completion this summer.
Commenting on the construction programme, Richard Wood of Brims, said: “We are pleased to be working with Howarth Litchfield on this project as we work well together. On this occasion, the job is split into three building sections with additional work to the sports pitches. We are fortunate that we have been given vacant possession of the building by the Council, which has made progress fairly straightforward.”
Northumberland County Councillor Jeff Watson, Chairman of Advance and cabinet member for healthy lives said:
“This major refurbishment and upgrade work will breathe new life into the centre and provide a modern and much improved social and sporting experience for the local community.
“I am pleased such rapid progress is being made on this scheme, and the start of work on site means we are one step closer to bringing these fantastic new facilities to the local community.”
Councillor Wendy Pattinson, cabinet member for Northumberland Communities Together said:
“As well as the sporting offer the centre will offer a vibrant community hub for social groups, activities and skills workshops. There will be a library area, a café and a welcoming social space for local people to access a range of services and support. I am sure it will become a much loved and valued focal point for this community which will help people feel more connected.”