Changes to borough’s swimming provision sees loss of Dukinfield pool but new site for Denton
- Active Dukinfield to become Dukinfield Sports Village with gym and fitness centre;
- Active Ashton site to be retained in short term, pending new facility;
- New Wellness Centre for Denton on site of Oldham’s Batteries works;
- Swimming lanes to be added to Tameside Leisure Pool.
After 50 years, the William Andrew Swimming Baths – presently known as Active Dukinfield – will no longer have a swimming pool. Instead, the facility will become part of Dukinfield Sports Village, as a high volume gymnasium and fitness centre. There will also be a café on the premises and a soft play facility.
Ashton-under-Lyne’s swimming baths has been given a reprieve. The site on Water Street and Gas Street will be refurbished, possibly as an interim measure prior to prospective relocation. The present site is suitably placed for the town centre, buses, trains, trams and car parking facilities.
Set to benefit from the Tameside Wellness Centre will be Denton. Initially, plans for a similar development would have seen the site on Cemetery Road, Audenshaw. This would have been bad for traffic and public transport access. This will be on the former Oldham Batteries site between Manchester Road and the forthcoming Denton Link Road.
Tameside Leisure Pool on Walker Lane, Hyde, is set to see a six-lane swimming pool. This move will also see the return of ‘serious swimming’ in the town, noted for its swimming heritage.
As detailed in our previous look at the proposals, it was suggested that Dukinfield, Denton and Ashton-under-Lyne would have lost their swimming pools, in favour of a centralised facility in the Tameside Wellness Centre. As of present, swimming lanes will be added to Tameside Leisure Pool.
In the end, Dukinfield is set to lose its pool. During its transition from swimming baths to fitness centre, there will be shuttle buses to Active Copley and Active Ashton for a trial period. Similarly, the 340 (evenings, Sundays and Bank Holidays from the 03 April) and 343 services offer another link to Copley. The 41 (top of Boyd’s Walk) and the 346 (Albion Hotel or Cheetham Hill Road), likewise with Ashton-under-Lyne Swimming Baths.
‘The “Wellness Offer” for Tameside Residents’
Of the £20 million spending, most of it will be spent on the state-of-the-art Tameside Wellness Centre in Denton. This will replace the swimming baths off Manchester Road, offering potential for enhancing the town’s focal piazza. Its construction costs are projected to be £13.674 million.
Ashton-under-Lyne’s facility has been retained, though there may be scope for refurbishment and/or a possible new facility. More modest amounts, £2.3m and £2.0m respectively, will be spent on changing Active Dukinfield and Active Hyde. Changes to the Ashton site will begin in September 2018.
Denton’s new facility will be in a prime position within the town centre. The future Tameside Wellness Centre will be a short walk from Crown Point, the Crown Point North retail park, and the town’s Morrisons store. Within five minutes walk of the Town Hall and Public Library, it’ll be possible to give your mind and body a workout. As well as ample free parking nearby, it is in an excellent position for local bus routes.
Active Denton will have an 8 lane swimming pool, 25 metres in length, with a spectators’ gallery. This will include a 17 x 10 metres learners’ pool with a moveable floor. There will also be a café concession, plus a Sauna and Steam Room.
Other non-water-based facilities will include a soft play facility and a multi-sensory suite. What will set the facility apart from similar leisure centres in Greater Manchester is the addition of serviced office space. Given the Tameside Wellness Centre’s future position off the M67 motorway, its location will be a boon for business startups.
- Projected Cost: £13.7m;
- Proposed Site: western end of former Oldham Batteries site, close to new Denton Link Road and Crown Point North retail park;
- Main Facilities: 8 lane 25m swimming pool with spectator gallery, Sauna and Steam Room, available office space and hot-desking areas;
- Estimated Completion Date: September 2018.
In the original proposals, we could have seen the William Andrew Swimming Baths demolished and replaced by houses. Instead, Active Dukinfield will be refurbished as a high-quality, high-volume gym and fitness centre. In place of the 25 metre swimming pool will be 200+ fitness stations, a creche and soft play facilities.
Though the loss of its swimming facilities will be a sore point among Dukinfielders, it fulfils another need. That of an affordable gymnasia and fitness centre, without the need for expensive subscription rates. The creche and soft play facilities will be a boost, as well as the café concession.
The building’s transition is only half the story. It is set to form part of the Dukinfield Sports Village, which shall see improved investment on the Blocksages Playing Fields.
- Projected Cost: £2.3m (£1m from Active Tameside, £1.3m from Tameside MBC);
- Proposed Site: William Andrew Swimming Baths building;
- Main Facilities: 200+ fitness stations, creche and café;
- Estimated Completion Date: September 2016.
At present, the Tameside Leisure Pool is noted for its water slides and wave machines. When the original Hyde baths closed on Union Street, it disadvantaged serious swimmers in North East Cheshire. What is, alas, Dukinfield’s loss, will be Hyde’s gain. The centrepiece of the plan is a new six-lane 25m pool. In other words, the return of ‘serious swimming’ in Hyde.
The introduction of a six-lane pool will make up for lost capacity in Dukinfield. Though within 20 minutes by car, bus-using Dukinfielders may find the 340/343 (Active Copley) and 41/346 (Active Ashton) services a better option.
- Projected Cost: £2.0m;
- Proposed Site: Tameside Leisure Pool, Walker Lane, Hyde;
- Main Facilities: incumbent water slide and wave machine, and addition of 6 lane swimming pool;
- Estimated Completion Date: March 2017.
East of the M60 Comment: A Fair Compromise, Though a Slightly Bitter Pill to Swallow
It is often said that politics is “the art of compromise”, whether in principles or public service provision. The initial proposals could have been considerably worse, potentially leading to unsympathetic development of the Ashton, Denton and Dukinfield sites. The original proposals would have been retrogressive and politically damaging.
Given the deprivation levels at St. Peter’s Ward, closing Ashton’s swimming baths would have an absolutely negative impact on its citizens’ health. For visitors going to Ashton-under-Lyne for their shopping, or the new Clarendon Sixth Form College campus, it would have had a negative affect on the town centre. The present site is in a perfect position in the centre. One that is perfect for feeding one’s mind (college or Ashton Central Library). For feeding one’s face (Arcades, Ladysmith, Market et al), and public transport access.
To think of closing Ashton baths in the same year as its predecessor’s restoration would have been foolhardy in a political sense. We await details of its future, either refurbished or within its new site, with interest.
The proposed Denton site for the Tameside Wellness Centre is an improvement on its previous plans in Audenshaw. Its site shares some of the same characteristics as the adjacent retail park. With regular buses to Ashton, Haughton Green, Manchester and Hyde, it is likely to be well used by people from East Manchester as well as the south western fringes of Tameside. The present swimming baths site offers potential for an extension of Victoria Park, or the refurbishment of retail units opposite the former market place.
The addition of serviced office space is a winning move. How many small businesses can lay claim to being off the motorway and having their own swimming pool? If there’s one disadvantage of the site for some people, it’s the loss of a pub – the Silver Springs.
In spite of plans to convert it to a fitness centre (and the Dukinfield Sports Village proposals), some Dukinfielders might take their vote elsewhere in May’s Local Elections. Whether Proposals 1, 2(a) or 2(b) were passed, the end of swimming facilities would have been mooted in Dukinfield. Thankfully, there will be no demolition, nor the inevitable pocket of housing development.
Causing the most alacrity is the feeling of “one part of Dukinfield being taken away”. As stated previously on East of the M60, the baths came about after Alderman William Andrew wanted safe swimming facilities in the town. This followed the drowning of a small boy in the Peak Forest Canal. Recent changes to service provision have demonstrated how Dukinfield’s central geographical position in Tameside can be both a blessing and a curse.
The outcome isn’t to everyone’s taste, but closing Ashton’s baths would have been madness on public health, political and planning grounds. Though it is sad to see the loss of swimming in Dukinfield, we hope the new fitness centre and creche proves its worth. We eagerly await the Dukinfield Sports Village plans, and the Tameside Wellness Centre which – thankfully – will be in a prime position for public and private transport.
For now, all eyes will be on Dukinfield, when its transition from baths to fitness centre will be completed in September 2016.
Work to redevelop Active Dukinfield and Active Hyde will commence next month, along with the 2016-17 Repairs Programme and the refurbishment of Active Longdendale. From the start of April, peak hour shuttle buses (weekdays from 0600 – 0800 and 1600 – 1800) will run to Active Copley and Active Ashton from the Active Dukinfield site.
- Tameside Leisure Estate Review: Final Report, 24 March 2016.
S.V., 25 March 2016 (Good Friday).