New state-of-art leisure centres set to make a splash in the city

A long-awaited new leisure centre for east Belfast is set to open on Monday following a £20 million investment.

Friday, 29th November 2019, 6:00 am
Olympic swimming hopeful Jack McMillan and European Championship swimmer Amelia Kane at Lisnasharragh Leisure Centre

Lisnasharragh Leisure Centre, on the site of the former Robinson Centre on Montgomery Road, which closed in 2015 amid concerns over asbestos, will become a leading Aquatic Centre for Belfast, featuring the city’s biggest swimming pool with eight lanes, state-of-the art timing devices for gala swimming, as well as a diving pool and Tom Daley Diving Academy.

The centre also features a range of sporting facilities, including a four-court multi-sports hall and an up-to-the minute gym with breathtaking views of the iconic Harland and Wolff cranes.

This is the second phase of council’s 10-year plan to invest £105 million in leisure services and get more people in the city more active, more often. It is understood 1.500 people have already signed up to join the new Lisnasharragh Leisure Centre when it opens next week.

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Nigel Grimshaw, strategic director of City & Neighbourhood Services at Belfast City Council described the opening of Lisnasharragh Leisure Centre as ‘‘an early Christmas present for east Belfast in particular, but the city as a whole.’’

He said: ‘‘There’s a real appetite in the community to see this facility open. We are bringing bigger and better than was here before.’’

Meanwhile, in the west of the city, Brook Leisure Centre in Twinbrook will open on December 4 and focus on outdoor games with a new 3G pitch for Gaelic and soccer, three covered and three uncovered 3G five-a-side pitches, and a hurling wall.

It will also introduce swimming facilities to the Colin area for the first time, including a sensory-enabled pool that will be the largest of its kind in a public leisure facility in the UK.

Social enterprise GLL will run both new centres in partnership with Belfast City Council.

Mr Grimshaw added: “This is an investment in our city and its people. Providing five-star leisure facilities at three-star prices is about giving everyone the opportunity to access affordable leisure facilities and improve both their physical and mental health.”

Gareth Kirk, regional director of GLL in Northern Ireland said: “Our people are an essential part of our social enterprise model and the opening of the new centres will also see us welcome over 75 new staff from local communities.’’

He added: “Since we took over the running of Belfast’s leisure centres in 2015, we have seen a huge increase in membership from 8,450 to 24,323. We also have grown the number of children learning to swim in our Better Swim School every week from 1,250 to 3,800, teaching them a vital life skill.’’