School children, park run enthusiasts, local sports groups, and many more will soon benefit from new and improved training facilities at Kings Park Athletics Centre, as work gets underway on a full refurbishment.
BCP Council is leading on the work which will bring about a newly resurfaced running track and enhancements to the long jump area. Works to improve accessibility and lighting are also planned as part of the £452,000 investment.
Councillor Mohan Iyengar, Portfolio Holder for Tourism, Culture and Leisure, BCP Council commented:
“Kings Park Athletics Centre is a superb venue, hosting everyone from school children right up to elite competitors. It’s a community hub and a symbol of our commitment to active and healthy lifestyles for our residents.
“Recently we announced a strategy which looks at the quality and accessibility of playing pitches across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole over the next 10 years. Now this announcement for Kings Park is a further sign of our intention to invest in and improve outdoor sports facilities.”
Almost 12,000 school children a year participate in events at the Kings Park Athletics Centre which has been in operation for over 60 years.
Recognised as an important community asset, the Centre is the home of Bournemouth Athletic Club and regularly hosts and provides a base for athletics league matches and open meets, school championships, more than 20 school sports days, parkrun, running clubs and weekly training sessions for people with learning disabilities.
This investment is needed in order to be granted a renewed accreditation certificate for the coming year. The council worked with Sports Lab Consultancy on the design and following a full tender exercise, Cleveland Land Services have been appointed to carry out the work.
The refurbishment, which commences in February while the centre is already shut due to lockdown, is expected to take three months and will specifically include a re-surfacing of the whole running track, improvements to the ground under the track, new pathways providing better accessibility for all users, and enhancements to the long jump area.
As part of the refurbishment, the council will also replace the old floodlights with modern LED lighting that use up less energy, meaning the improvements will contribute to the council’s commitment to make its operations carbon neutral by 2030.
In 2019 the Bournemouth Athletic Club who train at the Centre, was the highest ranked non-city club in the British Athletics League. Now in 2021, following a merger of men’s and women’s teams to form a new National Athletics League, the club will undertake training at the centre when it reopens, to enable athletes to prepare for competing against clubs including Manchester and Liverpool in the league.
Tim Hughes, Vice Chair of Bournemouth Athletic Club commented:
“Kings Park Athletics Centre is an important base for Bournemouth Athletic Club. These improvements will not only benefit our members, both young and old, but will enhance their performance on the track and enable them to re-build their fitness levels following a non-competing year in 2020 due to coronavirus. It will once again enable us to prepare for competing across the country and, for some of our athletes, at international level.”
The centre is expected to reopen in late spring, COVID-19 restrictions permitting.