Essex Sport Arena in Colchester was launched by double Olympic champion Max Whitlock MBE and the University of Essex’s Chancellor, the Rt Hon John Bercow MP, before an audience of invited guests.

John Bercow said: “To see so many people coming in from outside the University of Essex is testimony to a truth I have long recognised, that the University, by forging and nurturing links with the community, is not only doing the right thing for its students, it is also being a constructive member of the community.

“This is a dramatically superior facility that will go from strength to strength.”

The new arena, with seating for 1,655 spectators, offers international standard sporting facilities, and is suitable for staging televised sporting events. These include eight badminton courts, three basketball courts, three netball courts, five volleyball courts and two futsal courts, which will be available for hire to sports groups and individuals.

During the design process the Clague team, led by partner Lee Batten, successfully persuaded local planners to accept a bespoke bronze cladding on the outside of the arena, which has a footprint of 3,646m2.

Local planners originally wanted a wood cladding as the new centre sits within the 200 acres of historic parkland of Wivenhoe Park, close to the Grade II listed Wivenhoe Manor and only two miles from the city centre.

Lee Batten said: “We felt that the timber cladding wasn’t in keeping with the design brief or the wishes of our client, and from a facilities management perspective it would require significant and early maintenance.

“We identified a planning precedent and secured the cladding. The result is a building that will make a strong visual statement of the University’s commitment to having a world-class campus and facilities for its students, staff and community.”

Speaking after the opening, Director of Sport at the University of Essex, Dave Parry said: “The Essex Sport Arena will be a significant regional and national competition and spectator venue, as well as an important contributor to local and regional strategies linked to sport participation and physical activity.

Home to the new School of Sports Rehabilitation & Exercise Science, the arena is training the next generation of coaches and practitioners. By co-locating academics and researchers alongside high quality sports facilities, our students can get hands-on work experience.

Throughout the process, Clague worked closely with us on the form, function and operational needs of the arena, including the LED lighting which makes it possible to carry out super-slow HD quality filming of sports events, a pre-requisite of sports broadcasters.

The arena is comparable with the best in the country and delivers for its students, community, visitors and sports at a national standard.

Thanks to the bronze coloured cladding on the exterior and finish of the interior we have a striking venue that we, and everybody involved in making it a reality including the team at Clague, can be rightly proud of.”









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