Council invests over £9m in leisure provision in AshfordPosted on 25 January 2021
A major refurbishment of the Stour Leisure Centre which will significantly improve the leisure offer for the local community, is on target to open this Summer.
It is just one of a number of community and leisure facilities across the borough which are being improved. At a time when investment in leisure provision has been severely affected elsewhere by the pandemic, Ashford Borough Council is investing over £9 million in total.
The council in partnership with Freedom Leisure, who took over the running of the centre last September, are investing £6.5m in the Stour Centre, transforming the facilities and providing new spaces to boost participation and improve the health and wellbeing of the borough’s residents.
In addition a new fitness suite at the Julie Rose Stadium is planned while both reception areas and the catering offer will be improved with the introduction of Costa Coffee.
Cllr Matthew Forest, portfolio holder for Culture, Tourism and Leisure at Ashford Borough Council, said: “The Stour Centre improvements are progressing well, and will open in the summer. We look forward to our residents being able to using them later this year.
“The council and Freedom Leisure are investing heavily in improving the facilities on offer, including an extended gym with new equipment, a new soft play and clip and climb and dedicated café area, upgraded reception, new leisure pool features targeted at younger children and major redecoration throughout including the dry and wet changing areas.
“As the borough continues to grow, we feel passionately that our leisure offer must evolve to meet demand and expectation and ensure Ashford remains active. This is even more important given the effects of the pandemic, which is why we are investing over £9m toward improving them.”
As the borough continues to grow, we feel passionately that our leisure offer must evolve to meet demand and expectation.Cllr Matthew Forest, Portfolio Holder for Culture, Tourism and Leisure at Ashford Borough Council
Freedom Leisure is a not-for-profit leisure trust which manages leisure and cultural facilities on behalf of partners across the UK.
Ivan Horsfall Turner, Freedom Leisure Managing Director, said: “It’s great to see the investment into redeveloping The Stour Centre really starting to take shape. Being active is a key factor in maintaining our physical and mental health and wellbeing, and it can really help to strengthen the immune system which is so important right now.
“We look forward to the completion of the project and being able to reopen the centre which will provide a fantastic health, fitness and leisure experience for everyone in Ashford.”
The Stour Centre is not the only leisure facility to benefit from investment.
Tenterden Leisure Centre, is also having some improvements, with a new roof and pool air handling unit planned for later this year. The council are working with Tenterden Leisure Centre Trust (the tenant of the leisure centre building and operator of the facilities) and Serco (the Trust’s agent running the leisure centre day to day) on the changes.
Meanwhile a major new arts hub for the county, providing a long-term base for internationally renowned dance company Jasmin Vardimon will open next Spring.
Work on building the Jasmin Vardimon Creative Laboratory and 29 light industrial units in Javelin Way started in January with funding from Kent County Council, the Arts Council and Ashford Borough Council.
The new building will include space for the creation of the company’s touring productions, rehearsals, training, educational and community classes, plus incubator space for small creative businesses.
Construction on new facilities at Waterside Sports and Children’s Centre is also underway. The new building will be leased to Bromley Green FC, who operate out of the site.
When finished it will include a lobby area, four football changing rooms, an officials’ changing room, a fully accessible changing room and accessible toilet. There will also be a social area including a kitchen.
The work is being done by local Ashford company Lancaster Building and is due to be finished for this summer.