Lowestoft sport centre gearing up to re-open its doors

AN �8m redevelopment of Lowestoft's main sports centre was this week hailed as a 'once in a generation opportunity' for the people of Waveney.

At a special VIP launch and preview of the Waterlane Leisure Centre on Tuesday, the newly-refurbised facilities were lauded as 'something special' for the entire eastern region.

Waveney District Council celebrated the formal re-opening of the centre this week and, with the redevelopment now 90pc complete, it will open to the public on Tuesday, January 3. Work to to 'bring the centre into the 21st century' with new, modern facilities has gathered pace over the past 14 months.

The �8m project, led by the council and managed by the newly-formed Sentinel Leisure Trust, has seen the centre transformed with a new learner pool, soft play area, thermal spa, beauty therapy area and meeting rooms.

It also has an improved fitness area, dedicated studio space, a refurbished main pool, caf� and restaurant – all in more spacious surroundings.

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Hailing Tuesday's event as a 'momentous occasion,' Waveney's deputy leader and cabinet member for operational partnerships, Stephen Ardley, and council leader Colin Law, unveiled a plaque.

'This is truly a momentous occasion for the town of Lowestoft and the district of Waveney and is a culmination of four years hard work,' Mr Ardley said. 'The project is a once in a generation opportunity to develop something special for local residents and will create a leisure legacy for decades to come.'

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When the centre opens next month, people can also look forward to brand new squash, table tennis and martial arts facilities, better changing rooms and other improvements.

As well as Sentinel, other partners have supported project. Sport England provided �1.2m as part of the government's 'Free Swim' initiative – the biggest grant of its type awarded within the UK.

Pulse Fitness has also worked closely with the council as its leisure development and build partner, while Suffolk County Council and the Lowestoft Sixth Form Centre have given funding support.

Mr Law said: 'This whole process actually began in 2003 when the council decided that, after years of minimal investment, a long term solution was required for its leisure facilities. At the heart of the council's agenda is the vision to make Waveney a great place for anyone to grow up, live, work and visit and to create healthy communities enjoying affordable facilities. This new venue epitomises that ambition and I couldn't be more proud to stand here today, symbolically handing over this fantastic new facility to the people of Waveney.'

Victoria Beck, project manager on behalf of the council and chief executive of Sentinel Leisure Trust, said: 'This is a facility of the very highest standards and I cannot wait for the people of Lowestoft and beyond to see it, use and enjoy it. We are delighted with the progress of the project but even more delighted at the prospect of offering health and leisure opportunities at really affordable prices.'

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