Work continues on £52million Exeter leisure complex and bus station – which could still open in early 2021

Work is continuing on a £52million state-of-the-art new leisure complex and bus station in the centre of Exeter. 

St Sidwell’s Point, the UK’s first supermarket-energy-effcient Passivhaus-standard centre of its kind, is still set to open in the spring of 2021.

It will boast a 25-metre main swimming pool and learners’ pool with moveable floors, a confidence pool, gym, two fitness studios, a health suite, spa facility, café, and a children’s soft play area.

An artist's impression of the new St Sidwell's Point leisure centre in Exeter. Image: KawneerUK

An artist’s impression of the new St Sidwell’s Point leisure centre in Exeter. Image: KawneerUK

The cost of the leisure complex will total £44million when completed.

A new £8million Exeter Bus Station will include covered waiting and boarding areas and high-quality facilities.

Work on the development has continued despite the coronavirus outbreak.

An Exeter City Council spokesman confirmed this is being carried out in accordance with government guidelines.

An opening date early next year is still being targeted, with ‘excellent progress’ made last month.

However, the spokesman added: “It is too early to say how the restrictions and measures in place for Covid-19 may impact on the progress of works.”

Construction on the new Exeter Bus Station. Image: Exeter City Council

Construction on the new Exeter Bus Station. Image: Exeter City Council

Benefits of the Passivhaus design include a 70 per cent saving in energy costs and a 50 per cent reduction in water use.

It also promises outstanding internal water and air quality, excellent daylight levels and lower maintenance costs due to a high-quality building fabric.

During March, the high-point on the construction of the pool hall was reached.

April has seen the continuation of work on the reinforced concrete frame of the leisure complex, with the main pool hall beams now due for delivery.

Completing the frame will also allow the start of blockwork and metal framing so the cladding can be fixed with work expected to start shortly on the installation of architectural glazing systems.

The systems – two types of curtain walling, three types of doors, windows and brise soleil – will be installed by Kawneer-approved specialist sub-contractor AB Glass for main contractor Kier.

Alan Brayley, managing director of AB Glass, which will have a team of up to 30 working on the project for an estimated 30 weeks, said: “We are thrilled to have been awarded this contract. This is an innovative project that we are very excited to be involved in.

“The environmental credentials of this building are such that we believe some of the standards and skills we will be implementing here will be in high demand in the future as many more buildings look to emulate what we see here.”

An artist's impression of the new Exeter Bus Station. Picture from Exeter City Council.

An artist’s impression of the new Exeter Bus Station. Picture from Exeter City Council.

At the neighbouring bus station site, the ground slab is now poured and the team will be making structures that will form the base of the walls.

The steel frame will then start to be erected and the extent of the building will be visible.

An Exeter City Council spokesman added: “St Sidwell’s Point will be the UK’s first super-energy-efficient Passivhaus swimming pool and leisure complex.

“The water quality is expected to be better than at any other swimming pool in the country. A special filtration system will mean there will be minimal chemical content.”

The confirmed facility mix for St Sidwell’s Point includes:

  • An eight-lane, 25-metre main pool;
  • A four-lane learner pool;
  • Multi-purpose room/crèche;
  • Gym with 150 stations
  • Spin studio;
  • Two group exercise studios;
  • A spa with sauna, saunarium, salt vaporium, relaxation room, manicure/pedicure station and four treatment rooms;
  • Small soft play area
  • Cafe

The business plan for the leisure complex provisionally states:

  • The centre is primarily for residents of Exeter;
  • The monthly membership rate to be used is circa £36 a month;
  • There will be a corporate rate, junior rate, visitor rate;
  • School visits could be encouraged through potentially free swimming sessions;
  • Concessions for looked-after children;
  • Free swimming for under sevens who are Exeter residents;
  • Crèche facilities
  • Pay living wage
  • No zero hours contracts
  • Being ‘sugar smart’ in terms of vending and catering offer;
  • Car parking refund for leisure centre users.

Funding for the project is being sourced from £8million in Community Infrastructure Levy developer contributions, £18million from the Government’s New Homes Bonus and £1.4milion from capital receipts.

City council chiefs have borrowed £18.5million and says there is a sound business plan to recoup the investment.

The Pyramids Leisure Centre will close once St Sidwell’s Point opens.

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