Contractors O’Hare and McGovern have been appointed to build the new leisure facility at the West Stand of the redeveloped Windsor Park in association with the Irish Football Association.
It will be run by GLL, the Council’s new operating partner for leisure. Future development will include new pitches, a new play space and commercial development opportunities, all accessed by a new boulevard from Boucher Road.
It is part of a £105m Belfast City Council Investment in Leisure Transformation across the city with the council embracing the opportunities presented by the city’s stadium redevelopments, starting with Olympia and Windsor Park.
Councillor Lee Reynolds, Belfast City Council’s Chair of Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, said: “This is an exciting step in our Leisure Transformation Programme. It will provide the highest quality leisure services at the best value for money with the beginning of construction for the new Olympia Leisure Centre.
“It is an important move for the city - not just for the fantastic modern facilities it will provide but also for the opportunities available in terms of training and employment.
“Under our Investment Programme commitment social clauses are written into all contracts like this. We are organising activities to promote job and training opportunities for the unemployed, apprentices and students, and also supply chain opportunities arising from a range of upcoming council contracts.
“It is a wonderful example of partnership working for the benefit of communities across Belfast.”
The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) is contributing £2.75m to the construction of the new leisure centre, as part of their overall funding element of £31m for the Windsor Park re-development. This brings the total investment at Olympia to £21.75m.
Welcoming the beginning of construction, Acting DCAL Permanent Secretary Cynthia Smith said: “The entire Windsor Park development is about more than football; it is about integrating the entire community into something which is new and exciting and which will be of significant benefit for the whole area.
“While the department has played its part through its investment in the new Olympia Leisure Centre, the entire complex will be a shining example of what can be achieved when different stakeholders come together with the common aim of improving facilities for the overall public good.
“The new facility will be a tremendous boost for the social, leisure and economic wellbeing of those from the local community and indeed much farther afield.”
Irish FA President, Jim Shaw said: “Work on the redevelopment of the National Football Stadium is well underway now and I know that once the project is complete Windsor Park will be a stadium which we will all be proud of.
“Furthermore, the addition of the City Council’s new leisure facilities will enhance the stadium and will provide a major boost not only for the local area but for the wider community as a whole.”
The new leisure centre should be completed by late 2016, while work on the entire site is scheduled to be finished by 2017.
More information on the investment at Olympia Leisure Centre is available at www.belfastcity.gov.uk/transformingleisure