PUBLISHED: 12:11 16 November 2009 | UPDATED: 16:20 20 February 2013

Bell tower in St Martin's Square

Bell tower in St Martin's Square

Basildon's new Sporting Village is set to hit the finishing tape in time for the 2012 Olympics. Nicky Adams looks down the track to see what it will offer

Basildon goes on the gold trail

ITS A fair bet that when Matt Jackson and the 1,600 members of the South Essex Gymnastics Club get through the door of Basildons brand new Sporting Village on its completion in April 2011, theyll be doing cartwheels. From pre-school children right through to potential Olympians, this development is great news for everyone, enthuses Matt, head coach at South Essex Gymnastics Club. We cant wait to get in there.

Work only began last month, but already anticipation among Essex sports clubs is sky high, and with good cause. Not only will the complex incorporate a regional gymnastics centre of such quality that its already listed in the official pre-Games training camp guide for London 2012, but itll have a range of other state-of-the-art facilities that will quickly confirm Basildon as a sporting epicentre for Essex.

Basildon Sporting Village is for everybody, from residents who just want to lead an active life to champions of the future

Not the least of these is a 50-metre swimming pool the only one in the county and just the second in the East of England which will make training our home-grown swimmers a lot more convenient. Basildon District convenient. Basildon District Swimming Club and the Phoenix Swimming Club have long lamented the lack of an Olympic size pool and are itching to get into the water.

There are no comparable facilities nearby, says Alan Twine of the Phoenix club, so were looking forward to welcoming swimmers here to the Sporting Village from right across the region. Itll also help to attract more members to our club, young and old.
Even casual swimmers will be able to enjoy the water, explains Wendy Pratt, club secretary of Basildon District Swimming Club: This is going to be a first-class facility that will not only host national and regional competition, but will be ideal for weekend family swims, casual users and lessons. We are all thrilled at the thought of the Sporting Village opening.

This level of excitement gives a clue to the fact that a complex of this calibre has been a long time coming for the countys top sporting clubs. After more than four years in the planning, construction started on Basildon Sporting Village last month and is due to finish in 2011. Grants have been forthcoming from Essex County Council, the HCA, Sport England and Veolia ES Cleanaway Pitsea Marshes Trust but final details of the funding plan for the 38m project were only thrashed out at the end of July. The contract for the development was awarded to Community Solutions for Leisure (CSL), its construction partner Morgan Ashurst and Morgan Professional Services which will carry out civil and structural engineering design and mechanical and electrical design. All three organisations are part of one of the UKs leading construction and regeneration groups, Morgan Sindall, and together they have a wealth of experience in building leisure facilities.

As a company that works in the heart of communities, we are determined to involve local people every step of the way, says Peter Whitmore, operations director at Morgan Ashurst. This means we will be using local suppliers and subcontractors whenever possible to generate maximum benefit for the local economy.

Something for everyone
And when its completed, Basildon Council is committed to making sure that the Sporting Village is of use to as many local people as possible. The most important point is that the Sporting Village is for everybody, from residents who want to lead an active life to competition athletes and the champions of the future, says Councilllor Stephen Horgan, Basildon Councils deputy leader. This is a transformational project for sport, healthy living and the promotion of active lifestyles in the Basildon District and across the region.
There is little doubt that when Basildon Sporting Village opens, sport in Essex will be a great deal the richer for it. It will provide facilities for a huge range of activities. As well as catering for gymnastics and swimming, therell be areas for athletics, diving, trampolining, badminton, netball, basketball and five-a-side football in the large sports hall, plus a fitness centre, a multi-purpose studio and a climbing wall.
A caf will also make the centre a welcoming place for visitors. Outside, there will be six floodlit five-a-side artificial football pitches, as well as the 12 national-standard netball courts that are already in use. Basildon Rugby Club also has planning permission to set up its new home at the park.

There is little doubt that when Basildon Sporting Village opens in April 2011, sport in Essex will be a great deal the richer for it

One local sportsman who knows the benefit of good fitness facilities is Nick Wetheridge, a member of Basildon athletics club for 24 years and a former UK half-marathon champion. This is great for Basildon and great for sports in general, he says. Basildon and Essex have been sorely lacking facilities of this type for many years and this is much needed. Bringing different sports together is going to be a major benefit for all of us and the clubs will be able to feed off each other, sharing experience and opportunities. This facility will be awesome for sports and leisure in the area, and we cant wait for it to open.

Basildon benefits

Some of Basildons top sports clubs will be calling the new Sporting Village home when it opens in April 2011

South Essex Gymnastics Club coaches in mens artistic, womens artistic and rhythmic gymnastics and caters for parents and toddlers,
pre-school children, adults and people with special needs as well
as running classes in recreational gymnastics. Its one of the foremost clubs in the country and is a British Gymnastics High Performance Centre. Call 01268 270615

Basildon Athletic Club was founded in 1955 and currently trains at Gloucester Park Arena. Its a club committed to offering the most up-to-date techniques and best practices to develop top-quality opportunities for its members, many of whom represent their county at national events. Coaches and technical officials are also trained for competitions here.

Basildon District Swimming Club offers teaching, coaching and water polo sessions for swimmers of most abilities, from six year olds to adults, aimed at improving confidence, technique and fitness levels. Competitive swimming is also taken seriously too and training programmes can be planned to suit the individual. Call 07817 384234

The Phoenix Swimming Club (Basildon) is a friendly, professionally-run swimming club, which offers high-quality swim teaching and coaching for swimmers of all standards, from beginners to county and national standard. All ages are welcome, from the very young to adult masters. Call 01277 651171

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