Cuts Scene Investigation Special: Tameside’s £20m Swimming Strategy

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.

Forthcoming Changes

Active Denton

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.

Active Dukinfield

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.

Active Hyde

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.

References:

S.V., 25 March 2016 (Good Friday).

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10 thoughts on “Cuts Scene Investigation Special: Tameside’s £20m Swimming Strategy

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  1. Another amemity lost for the Town .No bank ,no railway staiton ,no community centre , William Andrews dream for many years .lasted 50 years ,down the plug hole literally

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    1. Hi Ken,

      Not least the fact that 75% of the facilities you mentioned were lost under since 2010 – and both under the ConDems and the majority Conservative government. The Community Centre and change of use for the baths, all thanks to spending cuts.

      The closure of Dukinfield’s last bank is the same reason as that of Mossley’s. The Royal Bank of Scotland – which also owns NatWest – was part-owned by HM Government. Instead of creating a proper people’s bank (yeah right with this lot), they did the same as the other banks: close smaller branches. Both NatWest Dukinfield and RBS Mossley – closed under their watch in April 2013 and January 2015.

      The railway station was closed four years before Beeching’s The Reshaping of British Railways 1963 report, in 1959. There has been plans to build a new one on Dewsnap Lane, though they have remained just that: plans.

      On the other hand, at least the building isn’t being razed in favour of an housing estate and is seeing continued use as a leisure facility. I would have liked to have seen both the baths retained and a fitness centre in Duki, but there was more chance of Stalybridge Celtic winning the UEFA Champions’ League trophy.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

      P.S. As a real legacy of our so-called government, Dukinfield did get a new bank. A Food Bank next to St. John’s Church.

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  2. Relocation of Denton Baths (sorry, Wellness Centre) to Oldham Batteries reminds me; Have plans for Crown Point East, with its 400 free parking spaces, now been dropped.

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    1. Hi Phil,

      I would say it is as good as dropped. Firstly, another plan was passed for the eastern end’s redevelopment for housing.

      Furthermore, any eastern end of Crown Point retail park wouldn’t have been good due to excessive traffic. Not least the running times of the 347 service.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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  3. As a swimmer currently residing in Dukinfield for a few months, I am glad some sense has prevailed. Culling all of Ashton, Denton and Dukinfield pools was utter madness. Saving Ashton and building a new pool in Denton makes much more sense. There are many ways that a new Ashton pool could be built in the town centre, such as integrating it into another building. I formerly resided in a London suburb and went to a private gym that was in the same building (but separate) as a Premier Inn and a block of flats. Creative thinking could have easily seen a new pool added to the new council offices if someone had done some joined up thinking. But there are ways as are being shown with the Denton plans.

    But the loss of Dukinfield pool is gutting even if it is at Hyde’s gain. On the other hand if William Andrews was pushing for leisure facilities now, would he push for a pool or for a gym? I have generally found gyms to be much more used than pools are these days. The gym option wasn’t an option back then but now they are very popular so at least there will be fitness provision still in the town. I note part of the funding will be coming from Active Tameside who must be confident it will turn a profit for them with which to subside other services.

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    1. Hi Mr./Ms. Gnome,

      The site of the old fire station (on Hodgson Street) could be a good site. Firstly, it’ll be near to the multi storey car park in St. Petersfield. Secondly, it’ll be of easy walking distance for West End residents and anybody working nearby (including those in the recently restored old baths).

      One downside is its proximity to the Cycle Hub, which is near the present swimming baths. On the other hand, there is scope for a cycle route from Portland Basin to a future baths on Hodgson Street, towards the town centre, the future Ashton Interchange, and the railway station.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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  4. I drive past the now-closed Dukinfield pool and have wondered what was happening to it – all is now revealed.

    There was obviously too much optimism with the anticipated completion – here we are days away from 2017 and it’s still a refurb site.

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