A REVITALISED sports centre has the potential to improve health and well-being and provide a venue which supports making Langholm a better place to live.
There is potential for employment and small businesses, to create a social hub, attract visitors, increase footfall and support community regeneration.
These are the conclusions of the research carried out by the Townfoot Sports Centre working group.
Part of that research focuses on the link between sport and crime and, while it does not suggest that Langholm has crime or social issues, a lot of research has been done elsewhere on this link.
A sportscotland report said: “It would be naive to think, and unrealistic to claim, that sport alone can reduce the levels of youth crime in society.
“However, over the last 15 years ‘sports, outdoor pursuits and constructive leisure activities have become a well-established feature of initiatives to divert offenders and young people at risk away from crime’.”
Research also shows that early experience of sport has a significant effect on lifelong participation and improved health.
The ability of people of all ages to have access to and enjoy physical exercise is critical to health and well-being in a community.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists recognises exercise prescription as a treatment for mental health conditions.
Physical activity can reduce the risk of chronic conditions, including heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, mental health problems and musculoskeletal conditions.
Even relatively small increases in physical activity are associated with an improved quality of life.
The group looked at energy sources and the objective was to maximise use of renewable energy sources for the redevelopment aligned with possible use of a natural gas installation.
Resource Energy Scotland did an assessment and identified potential energy improvements and savings which could be made with various installations.
Another energy survey gave indicative budget costs for potential installations like ground source heat pump; biomass boiler system; solar photo voltaic panels; and a Tesla battery system.
THE working group’s mission is to develop and operate a first-class, modern, community-led centre which will be embraced by the community and benefit the general well-being and welfare of the wider community in Langholm and Eskdale.
Between March and August 2019 the pre-feasibility phase of the project achieved its key objectives.
It has set up a robust and transparent project governance structure, which shows how project development activities will be managed and controlled.
It has developed and completed a detailed community survey for people in DG13 and DG14.
It has undertaken research and gathered information relating to stakeholder management and what is needed to operate a sports centre.
It has developed an initial concept design using the data and information received from the survey and prepared a pre-feasibility report.
The survey showed overwhelming support for a new centre, with 92 per cent of 979 respondents saying they would use a redeveloped Townfoot Sports Centre.
About 72 per cent had previously used the centre, while another 275 people, who had not previously used the old centre, said they would use the new one.
The group proposes that the centre should have as a minimum: a larger swimming pool of about 20m x 8m; three tennis courts with potential for one space to be a multi-court; a gym and fitness suite; sauna; one squash court; a soft play area; climbing / bouldering wall; lift / disabled/restricted mobility access to all areas; and a café/vending machine space.
Based on the conclusions of last week’s feedback, the group will ask for approval to move into the design feasibility phase, starting this month.
Its main tasks are to: identify and appoint a design consultancy; complete a building condition survey; develop concept design layout drawings; prepare cost plans for design options; identify and approach potential capital funders; determine the initial project budget required; and prepare and issue a business plan.
Funding of about £20,000 to £25,000 will have to be sourced to support this phase which should take about three months to complete.
SHANE Kenny, who enjoys running and biking, said he had filled in the survey and he would be interested in using the gym and swimming pool, maybe the climbing wall.
He said: “They have put a lot of time and effort into this and there’s been a good response back from the community. It’ll be interesting to see what the next steps are the timescale for it.”
Kenneth Pool, chairman of the rugby club, said having a gym and a swimming pool would benefit players recuperating from an injury.
Also, having a centre on their doorstep would improve their ability to get fit again.
He said: “I’m surprised at the design but you have to go for gold, start with as good a concept as you can and hope it comes to fruition.”
David Yarrow said everything hung on the project’s viability and whether the numbers stacked up but it was something people of all ages could join. Kirkcudbright had done a similar project.
He said he would use the centre and added: “Local authorities are struggling to fund these things and run them.
“One thing I think important is to teach children to swim but that requires a professional to teach them and qualified lifeguards.
Mum Jennie Forster said she looked forward to having an updated gym and a pool and activities for the children. Her son, Josh, would love the soft play area, climbing wall and pool.
She added: “It’s a good and positive project. I can really see it happening. They have done a lot of hard work on it.”
Neil Fletcher said the designs looked really good and he would definitely use the centre.
He added: “I used to use the EWM gym but it wasn’t maintained and the showers were always cold. I’d probably use the gym, pool and squash court and play tennis in the summer.”
Daniel Grieve, a pupil at Langholm Academy, said: “I did the survey and I’d probably use most of it, particularly the gym, pool and tennis courts.
“I play rugby and football and could use the gym for fitness.”