INSPIRING DESIGNS for a new £21 million Northumberland leisure centre and library – which puts inclusivity, community pride, and connectivity at its heart – have been revealed by sports and leisure experts GT3 Architects as work gets underway on site.
The design places the residents of Morpeth first, with the practice consulting key groups through workshops and VR sessions to reach a design solution that truly meets their needs. The key themes – connecting the high street, creating local pride for the centre, and offering a diverse range of uses – were developed and incorporated into the design to create a hub where leisure meets learning.
The state-of-the-art scheme combines leisure facilities with a comprehensive library and learning suite to suit Morpeth’s diverse community.
Paul Reed, associate director at GT3 Architects, said: “Inclusivity is at the heart of this project and it was so important to us that the leisure centre’s new facilities were designed to be integrated and connected to the town centre.
“We really enjoyed hosting workshops, presentations, and VR sessions with stakeholders from the library, adult learning, and community groups to really get to know the people of Morpeth to deliver exactly what they need.
“During these workshops we discovered the importance of the three key themes of inclusivity, community pride, and connectivity. The design therefore extends to the high street through a series of stepping-stones that figuratively and literally integrate and connect to the town centre ensuring inclusivity and accessibility. The town also has a strong identity, so we wanted to capture that pride and nod to the town’s ‘living amongst woods and streams’ motto.
“The result was an accessible and community-focused design, with people at its heart, and we can’t wait to see the finished development.
The facility is set to include a new two-storey library, customer services and adult learning classrooms as well as a six-lane 25m swimming pool with spectator gallery, a learner pool, spa facilities, a four-court sports hall, a new 100 station fitness suite, a dedicated spinning studio, a soft play area and a café that is open to the public.
The scheme is funded by Northumberland County Council.
Jeff Watson, Northumberland county councillor and cabinet member for healthy lifestyles, said: “The new centre will be a real asset for the town and a wonderful place with great facilities for residents and visitors to enjoy for many years to come.”
The scheme will provide 550m2 of library space, including a group room, poetry corner, and children’s library, as well as 450m2 of learning space with five flexible classrooms, offices, and tutorial spaces.
The centre will be located at Gas House Lane with a new library garden addressing the river from its north bank sat amongst the existing mature trees.