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Work on new £35m leisure centre will create 500 jobs

Richard Burden

Reporter:

Richard Burden

Email:

richard.burden@ulstergazette.co.uk

A NEW state-of-the-art £35 million new leisure centre in Co Armagh will create more than 500 jobs during the project’s construction phase, estimated to last until summer 2020.

That alone is expected to deliver an estimated £6.5 million in direct wages to the economy, and these 500 jobs are in addition to the staff that will run the new leisure facility.

As part of ABC Council’s commitment to high levels of spend within the local market and small to medium sized enterprises, it commissioned Farrans Construction through the Scape Procure National Construction – Major Works England and Northern Ireland framework to build the new Craigavon leisure centre.

Scape’s collaborative ethos involves engaging with approved local businesses, sub-contractors and suppliers, ensuring that the Craigavon project will provide significant employment opportunities for local residents and businesses.

Lord Mayor of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon, Councillor Julie Flaherty commented: “Our council is dedicated to showcasing our borough as an ideal location for working, investing and visiting.

“The South Lake Leisure Centre project ticks all those boxes – we are providing fantastic career opportunities for young people through one of the biggest flagship projects we have seen in this region in a decade, making the ABC borough the perfect place to visit and invest.”

As part of the community engagement process, this week local students and job seekers heard about the various career opportunities in all aspects of the construction industry – technical, contracts and support – at an ‘opportunities day’ in Craigavon Civic and Conference Centre, hosted by Farrans in partnership with ABC Council.

The structured day included a site visit, allowing students and job-seekers to see the large-scale construction site in progress and hear about structured work experience opportunities and apprenticeship schemes.

SRC joinery student Jordan Lappin said: “It was great to hear about the training and structured skills development opportunities. The apprenticeships in particular are great for students like me to get a chance to earn while we learn and have support from our employer while we are studying.”

Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day, Farrans held an event for young female students, where they heard from one of the successful female engineers, giving them first-hand insight into life on a £35 million building site.

Brigid McGuigan, Community Engagement Manager at Farrans said: “Recent research showed that the construction industry is struggling to cope with a huge skills gap, so we are keen to encourage as many young people, especially women, as we can to join this fascinating and exciting sector. We are delighted to be able to offer local jobs to local people, and urge anyone interested in getting into construction to get in touch with me.”

The facility, which will be situated adjacent to Craigavon Civic and Conference Centre overlooking the South Lake, features an impressive eight-lane, 50-metre swimming pool, a teaching pool, fun pool and a spectator gallery.

Once complete, the new gym will be the largest available on the island of Ireland, featuring state-of-the-art equipment, spin and dance studios. It will also include an extensive health and beauty suite, activity rooms, squash courts and a large sports hall suitable for a variety of sporting activities, as well an extensive outdoor watersports rovision.

Plans for the new leisure complex – first floated in 2010 – are part of a wider and ambitious regeneration programme across the ABC area. It will represent the largest capital project ever undertaken by the council since its formation in 2015 and will provide an enhanced facility, designed to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of the whole borough.

Mark Robinson, Scape Group Chief Executive, commented: “The Craigavon Leisure Centre will play a key role in the wider regeneration of the ABC area, delivering fantastic benefits to local residents with health and wellbeing at its heart.

“The project will boost the local economy through engagement with local supply chain partners, whose specialist knowledge and expertise are vital to Scape’s collaborative ethos, and the key to delivering this essential community facility.”

Anyone interested in work experience, site visits, workshops, apprenticeships or career opportunities at the South Lake Leisure Centre, Craigavon construction site should contact Brigid McGuigan, Community Engagement Manager, Farrans by email on bmcguigan@farrans.com.

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