The Handy Cross sports and leisure centre, forms part of phase 1 of the Handy Cross Hub development, by Wycombe District Council, located about one and a half miles from the centre of High Wycombe.
The site originally had a leisure centre along with playing fields and an athletics track. However, to enable the development, new homes were found for athletics in the nearby village of Marlow and playing fields at the John Hampton Grammar School in Handy Cross.
SPACE & PLACE carried out the initial design work, obtaining statutory approvals for both moves. The site master plan allowed the existing leisure centre to remain in use during the construction and commissioning of the new centre.
Phase 1 of the development also includes a Waitrose supermarket, and a coach Park and Ride Terminal providing transport links nationally, regionally, and for the centre of High Wycombe. Future phases are intended to provide hotel and office accommodation.
The S&P designed sports and leisure building includes:
The accommodation mix and brief were agreed after full consultation, through the Council, with user groups, sports governing bodies and likely operators.
The pool hall, cafe and fitness suite are positioned to the front of the building overlooking the boulevard, which links the main building elements of phase 1. This allows an active frontage and visual draw. The sports hall has been kept to the rear to limited visual impact.
A multi-deck car park adjacent to the leisure building provides 323 car parking spaces over 5 staggered levels, with green walls and hedges as screening to the external walls. Parking includes 15 disabled bays and 45 cycle stands.
The design strives to provide High Wycombe with a building it can be proud of; community focussed and friendly. Transparency along the length of the boulevard, enhances the pedestrian experience and maximise the opportunities for views in.
The Council have a strong desire to promote the use of low and zero carbon technologies within the District. As leisure facilities and swimming pool have a high base heat, demand to maintain the temperature of the pool and pool hall a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) was included to help meet this constant demand. The CHP can also help feed any district heating system provided in later phases of the site development A biomass boiler is incorporated in the car park to serve the leisure centre providing on-site renewable energy.
S&P was appointed as Architect and Lead Designer for the leisure building and car park from inception to the appointment of Wilmott Dixon through the IESE framework. S&P then provided design services and worked with the Contractor until its successful completion in 2016.