Agenda item

Leisure and Wellbeing Project Update


In February 2021, Cabinet approved the delivery of a brand-new Leisure and Wellbeing facility on the land adjacent to the University of South Wales (USW) campus on Usk Way.  This decision followed a public consultation exercise which saw over 1000 people giving feedback on their views. There was overwhelming support for the provision of a new leisure and wellbeing facility. 


The Leader was pleased to note that work on the detailed design of the new facility was progressing well, and the report provided an update on the project. 


The proposed new leisure and wellbeing facility replaced the former Newport Centre and would provide new, modern, and accessible facilities for residents and visitors, complementing the wider sporting offer which was available across the city. 


As outlined in the previous report to Cabinet, retaining the former Newport Centre was not a viable option. It was the oldest facility within the Council’s leisure estate and needed significant investment.  It was also the most expensive Council-owned leisure facility to operate. The centre had complex and outdated plant systems and was wholly reliant on gas. Upgrading this building to achieve carbon net zero standards and comply with modern accessibility standards would not have been achievable without further significant, direct capital investment from the Council. 


The new facility was being designed to be carbon net zero in operation and Cabinet was advised that this scheme had the potential to be the first carbon net zero leisure centre in the UK and the first all-electric facility of its type in the UK.  The design team also recovered materials from the Newport Centre for reuse in the new facility, including light fittings, timber panels and glass. This showed a true commitment to circular economy principles.


The development of a new leisure and wellbeing facility on the new site also enabled the release of the former Newport Centre site to Coleg Gwent in order for them to relocate their Nash Campus to the City Centre. This was huge benefit to learners who would have a new, modern, and accessible campus in the city centre.


Having over 2000 students coming into the city centre would also bring more vibrancy and footfall to the city centre, supporting and benefitting our local businesses. Importantly, residents wanted a new, modern leisure facility and they supported the reuse of the Newport Centre site for a new college campus. 


The report confirmed that good progress was being made in delivering the new facility. Planning permission was in place and early in the new year further enabling works would be undertaken on the site. The tender for the main construction project was programmed to be released in February with construction to start on site in June.  The build time for the new facility was expected to take approximately 18 months. 


The benefits of the new leisure and wellbeing facility could not be understated and would enable the Council to continue delivering transformational regeneration within the city centre, and deliver a fit for purpose, modern and sustainable leisure and wellbeing facility for the people of Newport and visitors from further afield.


The Leader looked forward to seeing the development commence in the new year.


Comments of Cabinet Members:


§  Councillor Harvey mentioned that the people of Newport wanted this new facility and provided the following statistics: 94% of residents said that they wanted a new leisure and wellbeing facility; 85% indicated that they supported the reuse of Newport Centre for the provision of a new college campus and 74% said that they would use the new facilities more often. This was a win-win situation.


§  Councillor Hughes mentioned that it was worth noting that Newport continued to invest in its future. The improved carbon neutral modern facilities would increase footfall, which would bring economic regeneration. This was positive news for Newport and was delivering on the corporate plan. As we approached the building phase, Newport could look forward to a landmark building in the city that served the people.


§  Councillor Clarke referred to the points made by his colleagues, which were well-made and felt that the report was a timely update. There was a need to recognise that we were in tough times and councils within in the UK were struggling. Whilst the Council was making tough decisions in Newport there was a determination to move forward. The new facility would provide another attraction to Newport, health and wellbeing for all and an increase in footfall.  Residents of Newport would therefore recognise this as a positive move.


§  Councillor Davies mentioned the shop owners talking about loss of trade in the city centre and their worries. Councillor Davies was able to talk about the leisure centre and the positive knock-on effect, with increased footfall as well as the new campus for the city centre. Links to opportunities and employment was a positive impact that would make great changes.


§  The Leader also referred to Small Business Saturday next month and thanked colleagues for their contributions.


§  Councillor Marshall was pleased to hear the progress and that change was already visible, with the old leisure centre already completely removed. It was important to add significant changes with college students coming to the city. People wanted to socialise, and this would be a draw. Councillor Marshall hoped that this would be an exciting city centre moving forward, that allowed more people to consider studying and apprenticeships.


§  Councillor Forsey echoed the comments of colleagues and noted that the new development would be an energy efficient facility and commended the net zero design.




Cabinet noted the good progress being made on delivering the new leisure and wellbeing facility.

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