The wooden counter in the reception area of Dovedale Sports Centre in Old Mousham

Plans to refurbish one of Chelmsford City Council’s four leisure centres are now under way, after city councillors voted to go ahead with the scheme.

Dovedale Sports Centre in the Old Moulsham area is scheduled for a £1.46 million revamp in 2023 to improve its dated facilities.

Refurbishment option chosen

The centre is run jointly by the City Council and Chelmsford College. It opened in 1974 but has had minimal investment over the last few decades. The council considered a range of options to improve the site and decided that a refurbishment would be most cost effective in the long term, offering the greatest benefit to the city. Chelmsford College will also contribute to the overall cost of the project.

Upgrade will add new facilities at Dovedale

The proposed works will modernise Dovedale within the centre’s existing footprint, with measures to make the building more energy efficient at the same time. The whole centre, including the multi-use sports hall will be refurbished, and new gym equipment will also be provided.

The planned upgrades for Dovedale include:

  • A larger, fully accessible fitness room
  • An additional fitness studio
  • A new multi-purpose room for a range of different activities
  • An upgraded entrance and reception area
  • Improvements to the showers and changing rooms

Consultation found dated facilities biggest barrier

Earlier this year residents and sports clubs took part in a consultation about the future of the centre.  More than 500 people took part in the survey, which was open to everyone regardless of whether they were centre users.

Respondents said the outdated facilities were the biggest barrier to using the centre. 31% of those who filled in the questionnaire also said they’d like to have a bigger timetable of classes at Dovedale with sessions like spinning and pilates available.

Cllr Rose Moore, Chelmsford City Council’s Cabinet Member for Greener and Safer Chelmsford says the consultation responses will help to create a facility to better serve the community:

“Thank you to the hundreds of people who sent us their thoughts about Dovedale. Your information will help us to deliver a centre with a wider range of activities, better accessibility and a much improved customer experience.

Affordable neighbourhood leisure centres are such an asset to our city and this investment should give Dovedale a new lease of life, benefitting existing customers and encouraging others to enjoy activity and improve their health and wellbeing.”

Cllr Rose Moore, Cabinet Member for Greener and Safer Chelmsford

Daytime use during term time agreed

Chelmsford City Council and Chelmsford College have agreed that for the first time, leisure centre customers will have some daytime access to Dovedale in term time. At the moment, customers only have access to the centre during evenings and weekends while college students are on site.

When the refurbishment is complete, the fitness facilities at the new-look Dovedale will be open during the day from Monday to Friday as well as after 5pm.

Andy Sparks, Principal of Chelmsford College says this evolving relationship will help everyone:

“The sports facilities at Dovedale are vital to both our learners and the wider community. It’s great to work together to create a centre we can all be proud of. Sports courses are an important part of our Chelmsford College curriculum and enrichment for all our learners.

This investment in our Moulsham Street campus will bring the sports centre into line with other parts of our campus, reflecting the high standard of facilities we aim to provide for all learners.”

Andy Sparks, Principal, Chelmsford College

Dovedale building work scheduled for 2023

The renovation now enters a planning phase which will continue for the rest of the year, with works scheduled to start in 2023 once Chelmsford College students have completed their summer exams.

City Life will have more on these plans in the coming months and you can find out more about memberships and facilities at Dovedale Sports Centre on the centre’s website.

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