On time - and on budget - Ely opens its new leisure complex, The Hive
- Credit: Archant
It may not be quite of the standard purists anticipated and some facilities first envisaged got ditched along the way.
But tonight civic leaders stood shoulder to shoulder to celebrate the opening of Ely’s new £13.5m leisure centre.
It is the culmination of more than 10 years of planning that began with the then council leader Brian Ashton introducing a master plan for the city with the theme “smarter growth”.
By 2014 the district council was wading through feasibility options for the new leisure centre and four years later – on time and on budget – it is ready for its first customers.
Financed through a combination of new Homes Bonuses and management fees paid by the operator, the centre – christened The Hive – includes an eight-lane 25m swimming pool, a learner pool with moveable floor, a 120-station gym floor, two activity studios and a four-court sports hall. There is also a 3G artificial grass pitch outside.
Councillor Richard Hobbs, service delivery champion for leisure and community services at East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “This is a momentous time for the district.
“It has taken a lot of commitment and support from the council and its partners to get to this point and I would like to thank everyone involved for their hard work and determination.”
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Councillor David Ambrose-Smith, chairman of the community services committee, said he hoped many would take advantage of The Hive’s opening weekend and enjoy some of the taster sessions on offer.
Council leader Charles Roberts said: “The Hive is a fantastic facility which will serve residents of East Cambridgeshire well, now and in the future.
“We have been fortunate to see the opening of a great leisure centre in Littleport last year. This, alongside the opening of The Hive, provides the district with plenty of opportunities to try something new and get active.”
The Hive will be managed by GLL on behalf of East Cambridgeshire District Council.
Residents can visit The Hive and take part in a free trial of activities (on a first come, first served basis) on Saturday May 12 and on Sunday May 13.
The centre will be managed by GLL, the largest UK-based charitable social enterprise delivering leisure, health and community services. GLL operates over 270 public sport and leisure centres and 113 libraries in partnership with 50 local councils, public agencies and sporting organisations.
Managing director Mark Sesnan said: “As a social enterprise, we support local communities with affordable and accessible leisure programmes, and we will be giving local residents the first chance to try out the fantastic new centre for free at our open weekend.”
The leisure centre was built by contractor, Pellikaan, whose director Gert-Jan Peeters said: “With The Hive, we have set a new level for all our future projects.
“The end result reflects a high-quality building reached by the combined effort of everyone involved, not the least of that of our dedicated site team, our specialised consultants and subcontractors.”
The Hive completes the second phase of the new Ely Leisure Village, which also sits alongside neighbouring sporting clubs.
The project has been funded by East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC) with the help of a £1.5m National Lottery grant from Sport England.
Charles Johnston, Sport England’s property director, said: “We want everyone to have the chance to experience the benefits that come with being more active, ranging from mental and physical wellbeing to personal development.
“Creating excellent environments such as these, where people feel welcome and have a great experience, plays an essential role in enabling them to become more active and healthier.”
The Hive will be fully operational from Monday 14th May. Clubs and groups can make bookings by contacting GLL direct by emailing email@example.com or calling 01353 655030.
The car park at The Hive is owned and maintained by East Cambridgeshire District Council and will be complete with four rapid chargers for electric cars. The car park will be locked outside The Hive’s operating hours.