Employee numbers at Eldon Leisure Centre are set to more than double as part of a £3m investment plan to transform the centre’s facilities for a new generation of visitors.
Leading social enterprise charity North Country Leisure took over the running of Eldon Leisure Centre, Gosforth Pool and Outer West Pool last July after Newcastle City Council was no longer able to keep them open.
Now work is well under way by the Hexham-headquartered firm to introduce a host of improvements at Eldon Leisure, investing vast sums to create a huge family leisure and entertainment as well as improve existing fitness facilities.
The firm has already given The Journal a glimpse at how the new zones, including the eight-lane bowling lane, family area, cafe and soft play area, will look when completed this summer.
Work is being carried out by project managers Alliance Leisure and fit-out contractor WFC, with workmen currently on the site of the former bowling green area, which once hosted championship events, which is being turned into a new fitness zone.
The existing gym will be moved into this area, where more than £160,000 is being invested in new machinery and equipment, making way for a new spin cycle area called Cyclone.
Part of the current weights area will be turned into a party room, while half of the main sports hall will be transformed into the climbing area, called Vertigo, with 19 towers measuring 7.5 metres each.
Current squash courts and a fitness studio will remain where they are, and a second studio will be opened on the second floor known as Wellbeing, to host yoga, pilates and other more relaxing classes.
Directors confirmed that new 28 roles will be created throughout the building, predominantly in the new facilities, more than doubling current staff levels to 50.
Two apprentices will also be taken on, and significant numbers of casual staff to cover weekends and school holidays will also be employed.
By changing the use of some spaces and reconfiguring others, the company aims to attract more visitors and non-users to the centre whilst also adding to the experiences on offer for existing customers.
As a non-profit organisation North Country Leisure is governed by a group of local area board members, headed in Newcastle by board chairman and broadcaster Roger Tames, the former head of sport reporting at Tyne Tees TV.
He said: “I first came here in 1976 when Eldon Square and the recreation centre, as it was known then, were being built, and it really was state-of-the-art at the time.
“But I think it’s been a bit forgotten by some and not known to one or two others, and you can see through other developments taking place in Newcastle that it needs bringing into the 21st Century – and what we are doing is going to take into a new direction.
“The facilities are going to be for all ages and not just for fitness fanatics but for whole families to enjoy.”
Intu Eldon Square is poised to start work on a new dining zone adjoining Eldon Leisure, but the complex will remain open via its Nelson Street entrance while work is carried out.