Lisnasharragh and Brook Leisure Centres, Belfast

Dowds Group was an integral part of the team that completed two state-of-the-art leisure centres in the first phase of Belfast City Council’s ambitious Leisure Transformation Programme. Another sister centre has also recently been completed, shortly after Brook and Lisnasharragh, which Dowds also provided its services to – the Andersonstown Leisure Centre.
The Ballymoney-based company was contracted to provide both Mechanical and Electrical services for Lisnasharragh Leisure Centre, formerly the Robinson Centre on the Montgomery Road; and Brook Leisure Centre, on a site close to the former Brook Activity Centre in Twinbrook. Part of a 10-year, £105m investment in Belfast’s leisure services – marking the biggest investment in leisure services in the UK – M&E work on the new sports facilities would eventually overlap. Dowds supplied full electrical works to both centres, including the main switchboard and all lighting, power and data. Extensive security was also provided, with fire and intruder alarms installed alongside door guard monitoring and CCTV operation throughout all of the centres.

Although there is a lot of common ground between the two centres, each was customised to meet different needs and ensure they each had their own unique selling point. The Brook Leisure centre required specialist pitch lighting for its primary focus, which was ‘outdoor leisure provision’ with eight 3G pitches for gaelic and football. Brook also brings swimming facilities to the Colin area for the first time with the addition of a four lane, 25 metre pool that can be transformed into a sensory pool – the first in Belfast. Lisnasharragh had the role of becoming the leading Aquatic Centre in Belfast, now boasting the city’s biggest swimming pool with eight lanes. The two centres are equipped with multi-purpose health and fitness studios, gyms, sports halls, and community facilities. Dowds was very pleased to be selected for such a prestigious project which will alter the athletic scene in Belfast for years to come.

The right know-how
It might seem obvious, but handling the electrical side of leisure centres, especially those with swimming pools, requires careful treatment because they are in the presence of so much water. Thankfully, Dowds has extensive experience in this market. Malachy Molloy has been with Dowds for over 25 years and has seen his fair share of these kinds of projects. Malachy explained: “We’ve been involved in many types of these facilities over the years: Falls Leisure Centre, Ballymena Leisure Centre, Bangor Aurora and currently, the South Lakes Leisure Centre in Craigavon, which is due to open in August. This kind of experience really shows its value when it comes to any difficulties that can arise in a complex project.” Understanding the needs of the client is another vital aspect of project involvement. Dowds began M&E work in August 2018 and as with all modern buildings, energy efficiency concerns were on everyone’s mind. With two very large buildings, full to the brim with electrical equipment, from treadmills to computers, ensuring it was sustainable to run in the long term was part of the key criteria for Dowds. Malachy concluded: “We understand that sustainability was an important factor in this project, especially when both Dowds Group and Belfast City Council are committed to protecting the environment whilst providing excellent facilities for the people of Belfast. Throughout the process we tried to ensure that all fixtures installed were designed to the most recent energy efficiency standards and took measures to minimise the impact our project activity would have on the local area.”

The right team
Early and effective communication between the main contractor and sub-contractors is very important to a project’s quality and efficiency. “We were involved with Heron Bros, JCP Consultants, Belfast City Council and McAdam Architects from the beginning and throughout this design and build process,” Malachy Molloy explained. “This gave us the opportunity to get support from our specialist contractors such as Sperrin Switchgear who manufactured the main electrical switchboards, Atlas were involved in the Fire and Security systems and Musco Lighting who have designed and supplied sports pitch lighting all over the world, most notably the Aviva in Dublin and Spurs new stadium in London.” One subcontractor involved in the project was Gibson Plus Ltd. The manufacturer has been working with Dowds Group for the past 11 years, supplying engraved and printed plastic labels, vinyl labels, mimics, valve labels and label fixings – and was delighted to be able to collaborate on such a substantial job. A representative from Gibson Plus said: “We have always found Dowds to be a great company to deal with and think it is fantastic to see a local company doing so well. We are sure they will continue to grow from strength to strength and look forward to further developing our business relationship with them.”

Built to last
Mechanical and Electrical work was completed at the £15m Brook Leisure Centre in November 2019, with the £20m Lisnasharragh Leisure Centre following suit. Not only was the installation on budget and fully fit for purpose, it also proved particularly client-friendly. “We streamlined the supply chain and we used specialist systems which allow Belfast City Council to set up maintenance contracts across each of the centres,” explained Mechanical Operations Manager, Jack Gourley. For more than four decades Dowds has been delivering quality installations to a diverse range of clients throughout the UK and Ireland, earning a glowing reputation across the Health, Education, Commercial and Industrial sectors. The new facilities at Lisnasharragh and Brook also provide further evidence of expertise in the multifaceted and often complicated leisure arena.

Project team…
Belfast City Council
M&E Services: Dowds Group
Architect: McAdam Design
Main Contractor: Heron Bros
M&E Design: JCP Consulting Ltd
Structural Engineer: McAdam Design

Dowds Group, 2-4 Milltown Road, Ballymoney, County Antrim BT53 6LE.
T: +44 (0)28 2766 2789

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