The Opening of the New Eastbourne Sports Complex

The SPACE team were proud to attend the opening of the Eastbourne Sports Complex.

This sports hub within the Darlington community has hosted many sports teams, schools, events, and festivals since it first opened in 1999. With around 170,000 visits a year, the facilities needed refurbishment and enhancement to support its ever-growing roster of community teams and the next generation of sportspeople.

Kevin Nicholson, cabinet member for health and housing, remarked,"Upgrades to the running track will mean that Darlington schools will again be able to host accredited national school competitions, helping us to inspire and motivate young people for years to come." Furthermore, the project was instigated following the success of Darlington FC's Ladies' and Men's teams as they moved up divisions and required a pitch and facilities that meet Football Association Standards.

Darlington Borough Council invested approximately £1.6 million in the project, with a £940,000 contribution from the Football Foundation. This now state-of-the-art facility boasts a new artificial pitch, spectator stands, changing rooms, and public facilities in line with the Football Association's 'Step 6' grade. The project also includes a newly dedicated car park to serve the new pitch and a fully refurbished athletics track with an improved entrance and access facility within an adjacent building. All designed to enhance the overall experience of the complex; in addition, the complex also boosts cycle parking and EV charging facilities.

Appointed by Darlington Council, SPACE Architects were pleased to work with Mike Crawshaw, Head of Heritage and Culture, Ian Thompson, Assistant Director of Community Services, and Brian Robson, Head of Capital Projects, who were all directly involved with a medley of Darlington based SPACE projects.

At the opening, Councillor Matthew Roche of Darlington Borough Council spoke about the council's commitment to Darlington and how the scheme followed on from a string of notable investments such as Darlington Hippodrome, The Hullabaloo, Hopetown, and The Dolphin Centre—all of which are SPACE projects—a proud moment for the team.

Also, during the event, the client team highlighted how the complex will benefit and serve the community whilst speaking to the part it will play as Darlington ladies' and men's football teams go from strength to strength. To that end, Shaun Campbell of the Arthur Wharton Foundation spoke of the significance of the moment as two new spectator stands were named after Darlington sporting legends: Arthur Wharton, the world's first 'fastest man on the planet,' and 'the first black professional football player who was also at a time a professional cricketer and rugby player,' and Lillie Galliway who played in the first team and later became manager of the renowned Darlington Quaker Girls team.

Adrian Morris, Accreditation Technical Manager of The Football Foundation, continued by crediting the hard work of the client, end-user, and design team led by SPACE Architects. During the opening, the Mayor of Darlington, Councillor Jan Cossins, carried out the ribbon cutting. Overall, the speakers, those in attendance, and the opening itself symbolised the collective effort and commitment that went into making this project a reality.

Phil Lloyd, Associate Director of SPACE Architects, commented, "Our design focuses on enhancing user experience and accessibility, ensuring the complex serves as a cornerstone for local sports and community events. This refurbishment not only meets the current demands of Darlington's thriving sports community but also sets the stage for future generations to excel."

He added,"SPACE Architects are pleased to have been given the opportunity to work on a number of significant projects within Darlington, including the Darlington Hippodrome, The Hullabaloo, Hopetown, and The Dolphin Centre. It is an honour to continue contributing to the ongoing development and enrichment of this vibrant town."