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The trials and tribulations of building Northwich Memorial Court

The trials and tribulations of building Northwich Memorial Court

Shane Benson, project manager from Wates Construction, in the 'street' that will separate entertainment and sport.

The frame is built around what will become the swimming pool.

The learner pool, which will have a moveable floor to alter its depth.

Shane Benson with the geogrid.

First published in News

A BUILDING that is ‘out of this world’ is starting to take shape in the centre of Northwich.

The Guardian was invited to take a closer look at progress at Northwich Memorial Court, in Chesterway, on Friday.

Wates Construction and Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) took us on a guided tour of the building site, where CWAC's £13.7million culture and leisure venue will open in spring 2015.

Shane Benson, project manager from Wates Construction, said: “When we leave here we will be leaving something worthwhile for the community.

“We come to a demolition site but when we leave there will be something here that enhances the local community and hopefully it will bring more money into the area.

“It’s going to be out of this world when it’s finished, there’s been no money spared."

The centre, on the site of the former magistrates’ court and memorial hall, is a building of two halves, with an events and entertainment area and a sports side, separated by an internal street that will become a pedestrian thoroughfare from Chesterway to the River Dane.

A stage, dressing rooms, bars and kitchen will be the main features of the entertainment side with a six-lane 25-metre swimming pool, learner pool with a moveable floor, gym and dance studio on the sports side.

There will also be function rooms and a café overlooking the river.

The project has not been without its challenges, including unsteady ground conditions at a site that needs to withstand the weight of the building itself, as well as the 500,000 litres of water in a swimming pool that will take two days to fill.

The piles for the structure have been driven 10 metres deep and ground work includes 1.6 metres of stone, 300mm of concrete and a mesh, know as a geogrid, that knits the foundations together.

Shane said: "The hard bit is the ground, that's where all the unknowns are in a project and it's the bit people don't see.

"But I don't like jobs that go too easy, it's about the challenge and how you overcome it.

"It's all about problem solving."

The centre will also fulfil green criteria with solar panels in the roof and a 'green roof' of planted sections to increase biodiversity and aid drainage.

Access to the River Dane will be improved and a plaza and memorial garden created outside the building.

Wates and CWAC, which is already receiving enquiries about booking the centre in 2015, are keen to keep the community involved in the work, with regular updates to neighbouring residents as well as school and college visits.

"We don't lock ourselves away behind the hoardings, we're accessible to locals," Shane said.

"It's locals that are paying for it so they should have access."

A stop motion camera is recording progress at the site and can be found at weavervalley.org.uk

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