Lisnasharragh and Brook Leisure Centres, Belfast

Dowds Group plays a prominent role in Phase One of Belfast City Council’s Leisure Transformation Programme...

Left: Lisnasharragh Leisure Centre and Right: Brook Leisure Centre.

The 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. A third leisure centre has 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 comprehensive 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 £105m investment in Belfast’s leisure services, M&E work on the new sports facilities would eventually overlap. Fortunately, the shared DNA between the two projects helped offset many of the issues created by working in the east and west of the city simultaneously.

“From a mechanical services perspective, the systems installed in each of the projects are similar in design, and detailed out to suit the building layout and the needs of the client,” explained Jack Gourley, Operations Manager at Dowds Group. “We worked closely with the main contractor Heron Bros, JCP Consulting Ltd, McAdam Design, and Belfast City Council from initial design concept through to completion. Together we were able to deliver the projects on budget, each tailored to their particular needs.
” Although clearly there was common ground between the two centres, there was still a level of customisation with Belfast City Council keen to ensure both would have their own unique selling point. For Lisnasharragh that would come in the form of an eight-lane swimming pool and the role as leading Aquatic Centre in Belfast; whilst Brook’s emphasis would be on ‘outdoor leisure provision’, with eight 3G pitches.

Fit for purpose
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 we used for plant manufacturers and specialist systems which allows Belfast City Council to set up maintenance contracts across each of the centres,” said Operations Manager, Jack Gourley.
For more than four decades Dowds has been delivering quality installations to a diverse range of clients throughout the UK & 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 multi-faceted and often complicated leisure arena. “For Dowds Group this was a great opportunity to work with Belfast City Council to deliver these fantastic new leisure facilities for the community,” Jack added.
Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Daniel Baker, who opened both Lisnasharragh and Brook, is in no doubt that the Dowds’ efforts, and those of the entire construction team have achieved their goal: “The facilities will play a vital role in improving health and well-being in the local communities, which is a central aim of the Belfast Agenda, the city’s community plan, he commented.”

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

Brook Leisure Centre.
Brook Leisure Centre.

For some companies the prospect of working on a complex focussing on aquatics would be a daunting one. Not Dowds. Having already completed installations at the Aurora Pool and Leisure Complex for North Down Borough Council, Dowds Group was perfectly placed to assist in the delivery of Belfast City Council’s vision for a new Aquatic Centre. In Bangor it had been an Olympic-sized ten-lane swimming pool; at Lisnasharragh it was a 25m eight-lane pool, the biggest in Belfast, a designated area for the Tom Daley Diving Academy, plus a children’s wet play adventure area.

Dowds started M&E work in August 2018, with an all-encompassing remit that included domestic water services installation, drainage systems, sanitary ware, LTHW heating system, ventilation system, natural gas installation, air-conditioning, and a building management system. In addition to the ‘wet areas’, Lisnasharragh Leisure Centre also features a traditional sports hall, fitness suite, multi-function studios/rooms, and five-a-side pitches. The facility also incorporated the Clonduff Community Centre.

In the west of the city, M&E work began at Brook in February 2019. As with Lisnasharragh, Dowds’ responsibility included heating, water, ventilation, air-conditioning, and building management systems. Of course, leisure centres by their very nature are ‘complex’ building, and Brook was no exception. M&E work combined an extensive array of outdoor pitches (both covered and uncovered), high-tech fitness suite and spin studio, and a swimming pool, the first in the ‘Colin’ area of the city, that transforms into a specialised sensory pool (the biggest of its kind in a public leisure facility anywhere in the UK).

Dowds Group’s in-house BIM Department implemented their BSI BIM certified methods and procedures to deliver the BIM Level 2 projects. By utilising the latest BIM software and hardware, including cloud based centralised models and 3D scanning technology for model validation, provided the client with an accurate digital representation of assets to support efficient operation and management throughout the buildings life cycle.

AirSource Ventilation was chosen for the air-handling units. Specialists in air heating, cooling, and recovery, they guarantee the correct temperature and humidity levels required in swimming pool areas.

All sanitaryware was supplied by Beggs & Partners, which included the Sandringham range from Armitage Shanks; back to wall WCs with flush plates, Monaco Doc M Packs and Concept Sphere semi recessed basins which were all used in the fully compliant accessible washrooms at both leisure centres. Boilers came courtesy of Hoval Ltd and the now ubiquitous booster pumps from Grundfos; and Ventilation grilles were supplied by one of the industry leaders in air distribution, Waterloo Air Products. Like Dowds, Waterloo have extensive experience in the leisure sector, having been involved in the impressive Wellness Hub at Warwick University, and Glasgow’s Emirates Arena. B.L. Refrigeration, based at Belfast’s Sydenham Business Park, completed the Toshiba air-conditioning, an energy-efficient, ultra-reliable system that operates on non-ozone depleting refrigerants. Commissioning and water treatment solutions, were entrusted to Lisburn’s Flowtech Enviro Ltd.

“All the brands, products, and sub-contractors were engaged through the design process to ensure delivery of systems that were suited to the needs of the project,” said Dowds Group Operations Manager, Jack Gourley.


Dowds Group,
2-4 Milltown Road,
Ballymoney,
County Antrim
BT53 6LE.
T: +44 (0)28 2766 2789
E: [email protected]
W: www.dowdsgroup.com