Handy Cross landscape changing once again

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The Handy Cross landscape is changing once again as the demolition of the Wycombe Sports Centre approaches the half-way point.

The ‘soft stripping’ of the old Wycombe Sports Centre began earlier this month, with diggers from contractors DSM moving on to the site to begin tearing down the 40-year-old building.

The demolition of the old sports centre clears the site for the next proposed phase of the Handy X Hub project which includes new offices and a hotel.

The demolition and clearance work is expected to take ten weeks.

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Meanwhile, thousands of skilled swimmers and excited shoppers descended on Wycombe District Council’s Handy X Hub earlier this month during a bumper weekend at the HXH.

More than 1,000 swimmers took part in the biggest ever gala to be held in High Wycombe – the first at the new Wycombe Leisure Centre – over the weekend of March 12 and 13.

Speedy swimmers were trying to book their spot at the British Swimming Championships, which is doubling up as Team GB trials for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Just next door, foodies were lapping up the delicious products on offer at Waitrose, with the store reporting first week footfall and sales figures which “exceeded all expectations”.

Wycombe District Council Leader Cllr Katrina Wood said: “Congratulations to the Wycombe District Swimming Club for organising such a successful event, which not only showcases the state-of-the-art facilities at our new leisure centre to a wider audience but also puts the town on the sporting map.

“I’m also delighted that Waitrose has reported a hugely successful first week in their wonderful new home, and thrilled that so many people – both residents of the district and visitors from further afield – are enjoying the great mixture of facilities on offer at our new Handy X Hub site. The car parks were full all weekend but operated smoothly.

“But we are not dwelling on the early success of the Handy X Hub. The demolition of the old leisure centre is the next step in the redevelopment, which will further boost the district’s economy and employment opportunities.”

Multiple Olympians, junior internationals, national champions and high calibre swimmers competed in the L1 Meet organised by the WDSC.

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They posted times in various events to put them on the national rankings to gain qualification to the British Swimming Championships in Glasgow – which is doubling up as Team GB’s trials for Rio 2016.

WDSC Head Coach Kevin Brooks said: “It was fantastic to hold our first competition in the new pool at the Wycombe Leisure Centre.

“The competition was the most oversubscribed UK club competitions in recent history and a huge success, which is down to the great partnership between WDSC and Places for People Leisure, along with the tremendous hard work from our club volunteers.”

Roberto Pavioni, a London 2012 Olympian, added: “The pool is fantastic. It was great to race in. I’m sure this pool will help local swimmers achieve there swimming dreams.”

Waitrose High Wycombe, built by Wycombe District Council and leased back to the retailer, said its first week sales were almost 20 percent higher than predicted.

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Paul Taylor, branch manager, said: “We’ve had an exceptional first week, with sales almost 20 percent higher than we anticipated.  Footfall was high on the opening day, but that continued throughout the week, exceeding all our expectations.

“New concepts such as the sushi bar and juice bar are proving particularly popular as is our focus on hospitality with customers enjoying the café and bakery areas.

“We’re grateful to everyone that’s supported us and look forward to continuing to get to know our customers and the community here in High Wycombe.”

For more information about the Handy X Hub development visit www.wycombe.gov.uk

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Your Wycombe Leisure Centre is open!

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A new era of sport dawned on the district this week when the doors to the £25m Wycombe Leisure Centre were opened to the public.

Members of the public, eager to be the first to use the fantastic new centre, joined Wycombe District Council Chairman, Cllr Ian McEnnis, as he cut the ribbon and handed over the keys to Centre Manager Stuart Lee from centre operator Places for People Leisure at 10am on Tuesday.

Local sports clubs who played an active part in helping to shape the design and layout of the new leisure centre were also at the launch.

Opening the council-built centre, Cllr McEnnis said: “Today marks the beginning of a new era for sport in Wycombe and opens up a realm of new leisure opportunities for the residents of this district.

“This stunning new leisure centre will inspire a new generation to take up sport and encourage those who perhaps previously gave up a leisure activity to get active once again.

“Whether it’s scaling the ten metre-high climbing wall, taking a dip in the impressive 50m swimming pool or getting in shape in the 150-station gym, Wycombe Leisure Centre has something for everyone.”

The Wycombe Wanderers squad was put through its paces in the 150-station gym by manager Gareth Ainsworth and the coaching team ahead of the club’s FA Cup clash with Aston Villa at Adams Park on Saturday.

Wycombe Wanderers take a Training Session at the Opening Day of Wycombe Leisure Centre05.01.2016

(l-r) Ryan Sellers, Anthony Stewart, Gozie Ugwu & Alex Lynch. Photo via PRIME Media Images.

Swimmers from the Wycombe 50 Plus group took a dip in the 50m pool, while youngsters enjoyed playing in the fun new splash pad zone.

The High Wycombe Sub Aqua Club put WDC’s Corporate Director Paul Shackley through his paces in the new dive pit built in to the 50m pool.

 

Meanwhile, Kevin Brooks – head coach of Wycombe District Swimming Club and a member of Team GB’s London 2012 coaching team – was also on hand to run the rule over the pool area ahead of the first club night.

In the 12-court sports hall, Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr Dominic Barnes, teamed up with Wycombe 50 Plus members for a game of short tennis before he put his racquet skills on display in the squash courts.

The sports hall can be used for a range of sports including badminton, football, basketball, cricket in the nets and there will also be weekly sessions for children to jump around an inflatable play area.

Both the Chairman and Leader of the Council, Cllr Katrina Wood, were given a bowling masterclass by the Handy Cross Bowls Club in their new state-of-the-art four rink bowls green.

Chief Executive Karen Satterford was the first person to scale the heights of the new 10m high climbing wall, which makes a striking impression in the open reception and cafe area.

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The leisure centre is part of the council’s Handy Cross Hub development, with the first phase also including a new Waitrose supermarket – which will open in spring – and the High Wycombe Coachway, which will incorporate an improved park-and-ride service.

The coachway will open later in January with 19 National Express services taking passengers to destinations including London Victoria, Birmingham, Glasgow and Heathrow, Gatwick and Stanstead airports.

The park-and-ride relocates from its current home in Cressex to the High Wycombe Coachway in February. More details of that to follow soon.

The old Wycombe Sports Centre, which has served the district for 40 years, will be be demolished to make way for further development on the site, including offices and a hotel.

Visit Wycombe Leisure Centre for information about opening hours and membership, or phone 01494 688 100.

Check out some of our photos from the opening – you can find more on our Instagram and @wycombedc Twitter accounts.

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Out with the old and in with the new

Old centre closes

Wycombe Sports Centre staff and users wave goodbye to the old complex.

Staff and users wave goodbye to the Wycombe Sports Centre today – but they will soon have a new home, with the new Wycombe Leisure Centre expected to open on 5 January.

Members of the Handy Cross Indoor Bowls Club and Places for People staff will bid a fond farewell to the sports centre when it closes its doors for the final time on Friday night (18 December).

But the countdown is now on to the launch of the new leisure centre – planned for 5 January.

The leisure centre and coachway are the first phase of Wycombe District Council’s Handy X Hub project – which also includes a new Waitrose supermarket that is due to open in the spring.

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The new 50m swimming pool – Photo by Anita Ross Marshall.

Leader Cllr Katrina Wood said: “I know many people have grown up using the old centre and their first memories of participating in sport may have been forged there – but the old centre has served its time.

“The new state-of-the-art leisure centre will inspire a whole new generation and will be a place where new sporting memories are made.”

Visitors will be able to take a dip in the 50m swimming pool, while youngsters will be able to splash around in the community pool and the new Splash Pad zone.

Centre users will be able to scale the 10m high climbing wall and play a wide variety of different sports in the multi-use 12-court sports hall.

Residents will be able to get in shape in the 150-station gym and work up a sweat in fitness classes held in the spin and dance studios.

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Places for People staff get their hands on the new gym equipment – Photo by Anita Ross-Marshall.

The new centre also boasts squash courts, a huge four-rink bowls centre and meeting rooms.

After a fun work out, visitors will be able to kick back and relax in the sauna and steam room, or the new café area by reception.

Stuart Lee, who will lead the team in the new centre, said: “It will be a bittersweet day closing the doors to the old centre for the final time but the team and our members cannot wait to get in to the wonderful new centre.

“The new Wycombe Leisure Centre has something for everyone and memberships for all budgets – so come and join us in the new year.”

Members will be able to use Court Gardens Leisure Complex in Marlow and the Risborough Springs leisure centre in Princes Risborough in between Friday and January’s opening of the new centre.

For more information about the Handy X Hub project visit www.wycombe.gov.uk and for membership details visit www.placesforpeopleleisure.co.uk

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Less than a month to go!

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The 50m swimming pool area. (Photo taken in November)

We are just a month away from opening the doors to your new Wycombe Leisure Centre – with the final touches now being made to the building.

The huge 150 station gym area has been kitted out with new equipment and members of the current gym can expect an email from operators Places for People about arranging an induction in the spacious new suite.

The fun splash pads for toddlers will be added to the community pool area, with the 50m pool – which has been fitted out with the latest timing equipment for competitions – ready to welcome swimmers in to the water.

The squash courts and bowls rinks were also completed last week, with roller derby marking being installed in the 12-court sports hall this week.

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The 12-court sports hall. (Photo taken in November)

Over the coming days, the final decorations will be made to the leisure centre – with the foyer’s flooring and railings being installed.

The lift will also be commissioned to enable people with mobility difficulties to reach the first floor.

Outside of the state-of-the-art centre, landscaping is currently on-going with the keys to the building expected to be handed over to PfPl later this month to enable the operator to complete the fit out of the new centre.

Last week, the Bucks Free Press carried a double-page spread of photos and stories on the Handy X Hub development.

You can view the BFP’s photo gallery from the media tour here.

The fantastic new leisure centre and coachway – which will provide both local and national bus links – are both scheduled to open in early January.

For information, prices and offers available on leisure centre memberships, visit www.placesforpeopleleisure.org

To view a live webcam of the site click here – photo below taken from the webcam on 11 December.

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Edging ever closer – construction update from HXH

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The windows were installed in the gym area last month (see the bottom of this blog for a photo of the leisure centre with its distinctive green copper cladding from our live web cam).

It has been a few weeks since we last updated you on the progress of the Handy X Hub – which is moving at a pace towards completion in November.

The windows and distinctive green copper cladding has been added between the first floor gym and the ground floor entrance to complete the eye-catching design of the new Wycombe Leisure Centre.

The multi-storey car park superstructure – an incredibly fast track piece of construction – was erected in just six weeks by the entrance of the sports centre.

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The multi-storey car park structure was built in just six weeks.

Less visible is the massive amount of mechanical and electrical work – the process of heating, ventilating, filtering and lighting such a vast building and running a swimming pool – that has been installed in or under the new leisure centre over the past weeks.

‘Ventilation socks’ – long white tubes that inflate when operational – have been hung in the pool hall, while massive filtration tanks and combined heat and power boilers are in place.

Work to install the moveable floors in the 50m pool and the 20m training pool, along with the submersible wall in the 50m pool so it can be split in two, has been completed.

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A view of the 50m swimming pool from the first floor gym.

Filling both pools with water for testing and commissioning is planned for later this month. The tiling of the floors and changing area is scheduled to finish in early October.

The installation of the hardwood sprung timber floor in the multi-use 12 court sports hall is also programmed to begin next week.

The laying of the timber flooring and seeing water in the pools will help to bring the sports centre to life as we move closer to the final stretch where the actual construction is finished and the building is kitted out with final fittings and shiny new sports equipment.

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The timber flooring will be installed in the 12-court sports hall this month.

We’ve moved on to the external hard landscaping phase – which in plain English, means the main spine road that serves the entire site is currently being built.

The first half, from Junction A (closest to the Handy Cross roundabout) is complete and the second half is carving its way up through the existing leisure centre car park.

We would like to thanks all existing Wycombe Leisure Centre members and users for their tolerance during the disruption.

The new Waitrose supermarket building will be finished shortly.

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The Coachway Park and Ride station with Waitrose in the background.

Waitrose are planning to start fitting-out the unit in the New Year, which will enable a phased start-up to the opening of the Handy X Hub over the first quarter of 2016.

The new Wycombe Leisure Centre is first up and expected to be opened in January, and then the Coachway Park and Ride followed by Waitrose.

The coachway station is also taking shape – glazing has been installed and the waiting areas are now being fitted out.

Watch this space for further updates and news of new coach services coming to Wycombe!

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A web cam image of the site taken on 17 September, 2015 – featuring the green copper cladding.

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Installation of moveable floors

installation of moveable floor in traiing pool (5)Work began earlier this month to install the moveable pool floors in the leisure centre pool hall. Two moveable floors will be installed: one in one-half of the eight lane 50 metre pool and one in the 20m training pool in the leisure centre.

The moveable floor can adjust the depth of the water to create an Olympic size pool for competitions in the eight-lane 50 metre pool or vary the depth in one half to provide for swimming lessons.

The moveable floor will sit on the ground of the tiled pool basin and can be adjusted using hydraulic rams to create an even baseline for both pools.

The moveable floor is designed based on a floating concept. The system consists of stainless steel and/or plastic parts that can be configured at the required depth using cables, which are fully equipped to withstand long-term submersion in pool water and can handle a heavy load. Grids on the pool floor surface will ensure continuous water circulation.

The eight lane 50 metre pool will also have a central dividing raisable barrier, which can be raised to separate the Olympic-size pool into two pools for various usages.

The leisure centre will also have a sub-aqua dive pit and a splashpad facility for young children.

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Progress at the Handy X Hub in pictures

With the planned opening date of Wycombe Leisure Centre scheduled for January 2016 work at the Handy X Hub is progressing well.

The crane has lifted the last Air Handling Units – which provide the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system to the building – into place. Wind catchers, which are used to channel air flow in the leisure centre, have also been installed. Over the next few months, now that all the internal walls have been built, we will be installing the wiring and cabling to the interior of the leisure centre.

View from first floor gym towards where reception and a café will be.

View from first floor gym towards where the reception and a café will be.

The leisure centre pool is currently being tiled and we are installing moveable floors in one-half of the eight-lane 50 metre leisure centre pool and within the 20 metre training pool. We have completed the outward metallic ‘rain screen’ cladding to the external frame of the leisure centre.

External metallic ‘rainscreen’ cladding on the leisure centre frame

External metallic ‘rainscreen’ cladding on the leisure centre frame

The concrete structure to the Coachway Park and Ride has also been completed and we are currently busy making preparations to install roof coverings to help make the structure water-tight. Half of the Coachway car park is now in use for the existing sports centre, as work on the new ‘spine road’ disrupts its car park.

Coachway Park and Ride concourse ready for its roof covering.

Coachway Park and Ride concourse ready for its roof covering.

Elsewhere on the site, now that the Waitrose store has had its striking bronze ‘cheese grater’ cladding added to the entrance box, we are busy laying concrete to the service yard of the Waitrose building.

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Waitrose entrance box with its bronze ‘cheese grater’ cladding

To keep up to date with the latest developments at Handy X Hub follow us on Twitter @handyxhub or sign up to our newsletter using the link on our website: http://www.wycombe.gov.uk

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