South Lake Leisure Centre, Craigavon, Co. Armagh

Far more than just a ‘bricks and mortar’ project, South Lake Leisure Centre represents Farrans’ commitment to providing a lasting social legacy to the community...

The year 2020 will be remembered as the year of global pandemic and lockdowns but for the Craigavon community and surrounding region, it will also mark the successful completion of South Lake Leisure Centre – a triumph in the face of many challenges. Undertaken by Farrans and completed on time and within budget this November, it is a landmark regeneration project, which will create a refreshingly positive legacy from 2020.

Constructed for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council (ABC Council), South Lake Leisure Centre comprises a 50m main pool (with moveable floors and booms), a fun pool, a separate training pool and the largest gym in Northern Ireland. Locals can also make use of the eight-court sports hall, a range of studios including a dedicated spin room and dance studio, an open triple height hub space with café and soft play area, two squash courts and an outdoor watersports adventure centre. The venue is part of a wider and ambitious regeneration programme across the ABC area and represents the largest capital project ever undertaken by the Council to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of the whole Borough.

Giving back
As part of ABC Council’s commitment to high levels of spend within the local market and small to medium sized enterprises, it commissioned Farrans as Main Contractor through the Scape Procure national construction framework. A key approach within the Scape procurement system was engagement with approved local businesses, sub-contractors and suppliers to deliver employment and skills opportunity to the local area.

In this task, Farrans truly excelled. As well as creating more than 500 jobs during the project’s construction phase, the contractor committed to local skills development, education and capital investment. The construction phase alone delivered an estimated £6.5 million in direct wages to the local economy, with 75% of labour employed within a 40-mile radius. 91% of the project budget was also spent within that same radius, exceeding an original target goal of 75%.

The Dunmurry-based contractor also delivered significant added value through extensive engagement with local schools and colleges. Felim Blaney, Contracts Manager at Farrans, commended the efforts, “The impact that we are proud to leave beyond state-of-the-art facilities is a lasting and positive community legacy. To drive economic growth in the local economy, deliver more than 1,000 apprenticeships and almost 4,000 school workshops is to engage with a community in a meaningful way – within the most challenging of contexts, given Covid-19.

“In supporting the local workforce, safety and wellbeing was always a top agenda item. This reflects the values of our company in taking responsibility for health, safety and wellbeing in the communities in which we work. The statistics show that our efforts continue to pay off. In working more than 500,000 hours on-site, we had zero reportable incidents throughout the project.

“With the project completed safely, on time and within budget, we have been grateful to work collaboratively with ABC Council in order to understand and help create their vision.” Lord Mayor of Armagh, Banbridge & Craigavon, Councillor Kevin Savage, added, “We thought carefully about the procurement process because we wanted to make sure that no opportunity was wasted in adding value to our local community.

“It is great to be able to say that Farrans delivered on their commitment – whether through job creation, skills development, education or showing positive female role models in the construction industry – they managed to maximise every opportunity to give back to our local people.”

Award-winning work
Testament to Farrans’ outstanding consideration of the public, the local environment and the direct team, the contractor exceeded their client-set target scores in the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS) and attained a Silver CCS 2020 National Site Award. Farrans was also awarded Responsible Business Champion in the Education Partnership Category by Business in the Community NI for the delivery of the South Lake Leisure Centre.

Commenting on the great teamwork behind this accolade, Contracts Manager, Felim Blaney, said, “The key to the success of this project was the coming together of minds in a collaborative approach that combined the collective expertise of the client, the operator, the designers, the specialist supply chain and the main contractor.

“Specialist expertise is required to deliver a leisure centre of this scale and complexity and the team were specifically tailored to meet these requirements.

“In an environment of mutual respect where sharing ideas was promoted we capitalised on the experience of the team to drive quality, value for money and innovative solutions throughout the project.

“It is testimony to the strength of these relationships that not even the health, logistical or resource challenges of a pandemic could drive the project off course. We delivered it on time and to an exceptional standard but, most importantly, without ever compromising safety for our people, our wider teams or the community.

“I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who was involved in constructing an exemplar, landmark building. I hope the visitors to South Lake Leisure Centre will enjoy using it as much as we have enjoyed building it.”

Project team…
Client: Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council Main Contractor: Farrans Construction
Architect: McAdam Design Ltd
Contracts Manager: Felim Blaney
M+E Contractor: Dowds Group

“Specialist expertise is required to deliver a leisure centre of this scale and complexity.”

Farrans Construction
99 Kingsway
County Antrim
BT17 9NU.
T: +44 (0)28 9055 1300


Dowds Group

Dowds Group makes a splash at South Lake Leisure Centre with innovative solutions and high-quality delivery…

Dowds Group managed the full M+E contract of the state-of-the-art South Lake Leisure Centre – one of the largest public sector construction projects within Northern Ireland in recent years. The new multi-use sports and leisure complex represents a major new flagship health and wellbeing destination.

With a proven ability to undertake design and build contracts in the demanding healthcare sector – along with numerous education, industrial and commercial/retail projects – Dowds Group was a solid choice to provide client Armagh City Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council with innovative solutions to the project’s complex M+E engineering challenges, as Thomas Graham, Electrical Contracts Manager explains, “The pools are a C4 environment with atmospheric corrosivity caused by moisture and chlorine. The problem we had was in finding a product to support all our systems that met the C4 criteria.

“Stainless steel would be our normal choice but only a certain grade is suitable for use in a pool environment. However, none of the products on offer were available in that grade. We had to source a new product to coat the threaded rods and nuts. Standard coating cannot be used.

“We found a coating product that is normally used in automotive industry. Eventually, we sourced this specialist coating material from America and contacted local supplier, Unitrunk, who took it all on board. They supplied all the support products (nuts and bolts etc), coated them and certified the lot as one system. “As far as I know, this in the first time this product was used in this type of setting. It’s an example of how innovative Dowds Group is – we strive to provide solutions.”

The mechanical works also needed specialist attention due to the C4 environment, says Mechanical Contracts Manager, Craig Preston, “Everything that went through the three pool halls and the wet changing village had to be specially treated to withstand the chlorinated environment.

“We used a Xylan coating on all the fixings. But the ductwork had to be coated in chlorinated rubber paint on the inside of the ductwork. The ductwork that ran through the pool halls had to be treated on the outside. The air-handling units also had to be specially treated.

“One of the other mechanical challenges we had to overcome was that the gas and water services were located on the other side of the river. We had to directionally drill below the river to get the services into the site. I’ve never had to do that before!”

Dowds Group delivered the gas-fired energy centre containing three gas-fired boilers, the air conditioning, supply and extract ventilation, full domestic services installation, public health above ground drainage and heating installation. All mechanical services were connected to the BMS.

“For such a complex project it all worked out pretty well on site,” says Craig. “The whole job was planned out first in 3D modelling, so we were able to design and co-ordinate systems before work started. On site there were very few co-ordination issues to be resolved, because of the pre-work we had done on the model. Probably one of the most successful jobs I’ve done in a long time.”

Dowds Group champions the use of workshops for clients, as Thomas explains, “To counter any potential misunderstandings we’ll design to a certain stage then invite the client to a workshop. We’ll explain our understanding of their requirements and check that is correct. These workshops are very useful because if there is a misunderstanding we can just make that tweak and you get a very happy client at the end of the job.

We carry out these workshops on every system, at least once – depending how complex the system is.” Thomas was full of praise for everyone involved in the project, “This project was a prime example of best practice, of how a job should and could be done. Everyone on the project worked together towards the same goal – a building built to the client’s expectations. It was inspiring to see and be a part of it.

“I’ve since moved into another position within Dowds and I am so gratified that this was my last job as a Contracts Manager. Farrans shares similar traits to Dowds Group, the main one being that health and safety and quality always comes first.”

“This project was a prime example of best practice, of how a job should and could be done.”

Dowds Group
2-4 Milltown Road
Co. Antrim
BT53 6LE T: +44 (0)28 2766 2789

D&K Architectural Systems

Innovative, technical approach and quality workmanship combine to make D&K Architectural Systems an ideal partner for complex projects…

D&K Architectural Systems provided all the internal windows, doors and screens, external louvres, aluminium and glass façade for South Lake Leisure Centre.

The Moira-based firm has grown substantially since its formation in 2017. Under the direction of its highly experienced management team, D&K Architectural Systems specialise in undertaking substantial, high profile projects with Northern Ireland’s leading construction companies such as Farrans.

Commenting on the project, Paul Kelly, co-founder of D&K Architectural Systems says, “We are an innovative company, which is one of the reasons contractors utilise us. Quality work is essential in any project, but it is equally challenging to ensure your work completes on time to facilitate the smooth running of the project. Any sizeable project, such as South Lake Leisure Centre, has a multitude of services and installations occurring simultaneously. We played our part to ensure a cohesive programme of works.

Tom Douglas, co-founder, was full of full of praise for Farrans’ management of this major project. “Throughout the period of the build we developed personal and professional relationships with many of the key Farrans staff and a mutual respect was evident.”

“We continually try to be as flexible as possible and Farrans staff were up front about all issues. They were extremely attentive to detail, forceful but diplomatic, understanding when needed and most importantly worked closely with our office, technical and site staff to ensure effective timelines being continually achieved.”

It was our pleasure to work with them and we trust that we have proven our own company’s ability to undertake further projects of similar scale in the very near future.”

Paul adds, “Thank you to all our office, factory and site staff for bringing this project to a very successful conclusion.”

D&K Architectural Systems
Unit 3b Trummery Industrial Park
Meadow Road
Co Down
BT67 0HH
T: +44 (0)28 9276 0994
E: or


Kilsaran, supplied almost 5,000 m2 of paving products for the South Lake Leisure Centre in Craigavon….

Kilsaran, supplied almost 5,000 m2 of paving products for the South Lake Leisure Centre in Craigavon.

In conjunction with JP Corry Builders Merchants and Castle Paving. Kilsaran delivered a range of high-quality products including Newgrange Silver Granite, Black Granite and Tara Silver Kerb manufactured in their paving factory in Clonee, Co. Meath. using many of their own aggregate materials ensuring the highest quality products manufactured to the highest standards.

Alan Donohoe, Head of Sales for Kilsaran Paving & Walling said, “The textured granite surface of the Newgrange paving range is its main feature. The granite surface is extremely robust and will ensure that the paving will maintain its declared ‘extremely low’ slip resistance throughout its life cycle.

“100% of the water used to manufacture these products is from Kilsaran’s own rainwater harvesting system, curing happens in a state-of-the-art climate-controlled curing chamber to aid in the prevention of efflorescence.”

Kilsaran Paving & Walling, part of the Kilsaran Group, has been manufacturing from its plant in Dunboyne, Co. Meath since 1996, and have recently commissioned a new hermetic press paving plant. Commenting on the project Alan said, “Farrans is one of the largest construction companies in Northern Ireland, carrying out large construction projects throughout Ireland and the UK. We are delighted to have been involved in one of the most significant projects in health, fitness and wellbeing in Northern Ireland.”

“We are delighted to have been involved in one of the most significant projects in health, fitness and wellbeing in Northern Ireland.”

Co. Meath
T: +353 (0)1 8026300


Helmsman specialise in both non-standard and bespoke lockers…

Helmsman supplied and installed a variety of lockers, seating and freestanding benches for the South Lake Leisure Centre. The locker specialists also supplied the laminate number plates, locks and wrist straps with keys for each locker, along with special Braille numbering plates.

With more than 40 years experience in supplying high quality lockers and cubicles to a wide variety of sectors including sport, education and leisure, Helmsman was the ideal partner to deliver the brief for this high-profile project.

Distance, from a delivery and project management perspective, was a slight challenge for the Suffolk-based fabricator, admits Alison Slaymaker, Sales Coordinator for Helmsman. “But by working closely with the contractor and frequent site visits by our install manager we overcame any issue this created.”

Helmsman offer locker and cubicle design, manufacturing and installation facilities from their base in Bury St. Edmunds. Bespoke products are also designed and manufactured to suit customer requirements and specifications.

“Our customers choose Helmsman because we are a UK manufacturer which can create high quality bespoke lockers and cubicles that no one else in the industry can manufacture, supply and install,” says Alison. As with most projects, being able to see the product manufactured, supplied and installed at the South Lake site was extremely satisfying for the specialist supplier.

“We are lucky to have been able to visit the site on different occasions to see the project develop and completed with our lockers, seating and free standing benches installed,” says Alison.

“It was good to work with Farrans. We found that any issues that arose were quickly overcome through discussions with the project team.”

1 Northern Way
Bury St Edmunds
IP32 6NH
T: 01284 727626

Metal Technology

Since 1985, Metal Technology has been defining spaces through its architectural glazing solutions…

Metal Technology provided design assistance for the façade glazing package at South Lake Leisure Centre, which included curtain walling, thermal casement windows, thermal doors, Brise Soleil and louvres. The Antrim-based specialist supplied its architectural glazing systems for the project through approved fabricator D&K Architectural Systems to project supply chain partner Farrans.

The package included its System 17 Curtain Walling, System 4-35Hi+ Thermal Casement Windows, System 5-20DHi+ Thermal Doors, System 22 Brise Soleil and System 23 Louvres.

Commenting on the project, Tony Rosbotham, Architectural Advisor / Business Development Manager at Metal Technology says, “The design team wanted to deliver large grids of curtain walling to provide as much of a glass wall façade effect as possible and this was achieved by installing larger mullions and transoms from our suite of profiles. A bespoke Brise Soleil bracket was also utilised to integrate our solar shading solution into the curtain walling.”

Metal Technology offers a comprehensive design and specification service to architects, developers and main contractors through a team of architectural advisors. Tailored specifications can be provided online with NBS standards, supported with CAD details and performance data as well as BIM family models for integration into construction drawings.

Their product portfolio encompasses over 30 window, door, curtain walling, brise soleil and louvre systems. A Thermally Enhanced (Hi+) portfolio offers the designer a wide and diverse choice of profiles that provide structural integrity, weather performance, thermal enhancement and security. The company has just launched a new 65mm capped curtain walling product, System 17-65, which has been designed specifically to accommodate greater floor slab deflection and glass movement in high-rise or multi-storey applications.

“We are delighted with how the façade looks aesthetically and the level of light introduced into the building through the large panes of glass, which is great for a public use facility,” says Tony Rosbotham.

“The design team wanted to deliver large grids of curtain walling to provide as much of a glass wall façade effect as possible.”

Metal Technology
Steeple Rd Industrial Estate
Steeple Road
BT41 1AB
T: +44 (0)28 9448 7777

Ustigate Waterplay

The aquatic scheme at the South Lake Leisure Centre was designed and installed by aquatic facility specialists, Ustigate Waterplay. The installation provides an exciting multi-level indoor aquatic adventure for all ages and abilities to enjoy. Bursting with play value, there are 16 products at ground level and an Elevations™ journey that runs for 32 metres, with nine sturdy staircases, 11 platforms, 62 water features and two loop-the-loop waterslides.

Established in 1966, Ustigate Waterplay have specialised in the design and build of indoor and outdoor aquatic facilities for 54 years and completed over 100 installations in the UK.

They regularly act as a main contractor on schemes, providing a full turnkey solution from start to finish. Ustigate Waterplay’s in-house engineering expertise allows them to design and build bespoke facilities and to cater for every site-specific need.

All aquatic play products are sourced from long-term partner Vortex Aquatic Structures International Inc, an award-winning company with 7,600 installations in 50 countries.

T: +44 (0)1322 424445

Walter Watson Ltd

Specialist steel fabricator Walter Watson Ltd supplied and erected 700 tonnes of structural steel along with the cold rolled and cladding rails for South Lake Leisure Centre.

The complex nature of this project presented some challenges, but the experienced County Down firm were perfectly equipped to overcome them, as Trevor Irvine, Structural Steel General Manager for Walter Watson explains, “The cell beams to the pool area are 32m long and weighed 6.5 tonnes each. We had to position the crane outside the building line, which was 6m below floor level in the pool area, to erect them. Likewise in the sports hall we erected trusses which weighed 8 tonnes each.” The County Down based firm is delighted to have played their part in this landmark project.

“We enjoyed being involved in this project as it’s a local project and it helps with the health and wellbeing of the local community. “We’d like to thank the Farrans team for having us on the project and their assistance in making the project run smoothly.”

T: +44 (0) 28 4377 8711


Ireland’s leading siphonic drainage company, RWP IRL Ltd designed and installed the extensive siphonic roof drainage system for South Lake Leisure Centre.

Early design meetings with the project design team ironed out potential problems early, allowing the job to move smoothly to completion. A specially coated rail system was used in the swimming pool area to prevent corrosion due to the chemicals used in swimming pools.

Commenting on the project, Alan Turner, Managing Director for RWP said, “This is our third swimming pool in two years, so we have plenty of experience and knowledge in dealing with them.”

RWP IRL operates as a one-stop-shop as Alan explains, “We design in-house using our own designers and our software. We have our own outlet, and our staff carries out all the installation work. Unlike our competitors who buy in a design and fit someone else’s systems. This leads to major problems should anything go wrong, and the warranties are required.”

RWP IRL are currently involved on several other projects with Farrans, continuing a long-standing relationship with the major construction firm.

T: +44 (0)28 9751 1105

Blackchurch Leisure Company

Clients of South Lake Leisure Centre get to enjoy a lake view during their sauna and steam room sessions, thanks to the bespoke unit design and installation supplied by Blackchurch Leisure Company.

After close collaboration with project architects McAdam Design, BlackChurch Leisure Company designed the Tylo sauna and steam room units to maximise the area available to them and minimise running costs.

The Tylo sauna is a standard commercial unit with a glass front elevation so users can take in the views across the lake. Sitting 12 comfortably, the sauna is operated by a safe automatic water dosing system, which also delivers consistent humidity levels instead of the dry heat usually associated with saunas. The glass-fronted steam room also seats 12.

Denis Murphy, Director for Blackchurch Leisure Centre commended the smooth running of the project. “Despite the delays created by Covid-19 we are happy that we delivered everything that was requested and that we fulfilled the client’s requirements.

Denis adds, “We are delighted that our sauna and steam room units are now being enjoyed in such an impressive, landmark setting.”

T: +353 (0)1 458 9464

Massey Catering Equipment Ltd

Massey Catering Equipment Ltd designed, manufactured and installed a bespoke servery counter and working commercial catering kitchen to meet the needs of South Lake Leisure Centre visitors and staff.

The specialist commercial catering equipment supplied a diverse range of high quality catering products including stainless steel benches/sinks, induction cooker, coffee machine and refrigeration.

Trading since 1982, Massey Catering Equipment is committed to delivering competitively priced, high-quality catering products, which are tailored to the resources of their diverse range of valued customers.

The company is rightly proud of the design and aesthetic appeal to the finished server counter. Philip Massey, Director for Massey Catering Equipment says, “It was important to keep the look and feel of the counter in line with the modern and innovative style of the leisure centre and we believe this was achieved with great success.”

He adds, “We have worked with Farrans before and again it was a great pleasure in partnering the company on this project to achieve the finished bespoke servery and kitchen, which no doubt will get put to its full use and potential come 2021.”

T: +44 (0)28 9261 9009

SMC Contracts

Specialist construction company, SMC Contracts, carried out all groundworks and civil engineering works at South Lake Leisure Centre site in Craigavon.

As Brendan McCullough, Managing Director for SMC Contracts explains, this was a particularly challenging site, “South Lake situated beside a lake with difficult ground conditions presented environmental, health, safety and welfare issues for us as the main groundworker. We overcame these challenges by working closely with Farrans and implementing procedures to mitigate and minimise potential risks from these hazards.

“Our extensive range of specialised plant and dedicated workforce ensured that from initial site clearance to finishing touches we always had the right personnel or machine for the job.”

Commenting on the job done, Brendan says, “This was an exceptional project to work on and the finished product showcased our ability to deliver high quality work, on time within challenging environments.

“Working with the Farrans team on this project has been a pleasure and we look forward to continuing working with them on future projects.”

T: +44 (0)28 3005 1555

JCP Consulting Ltd

JCP Consulting Ltd were involved in the South Lake Leisure Centre (SLLC) project from start to finish, delivering the design for the mechanical and electrical services and the pool filtration systems. This included the initial design concepts and strategies right through to detailed design, overseeing the installation and commissioning and ensuring the systems were ready for client operation.

Commenting on the project, Barry Crozier, Director for JCP Consulting Ltd said, “Leisure centres are highly serviced complex buildings and close collaborative working with both the design team and contractor was essential in developing and producing successful integrated solutions. Coordination and collaboration were enhanced through the use of BIM Level 2 protocols on the project.

“While people may not notice, there is a large network of ductwork, pipes and electrical services that weave their way through SLLC to make the building work and to provide comfortable, and safe environments for the users. Using our BIM expertise, we were able to fully coordinate these services with the architecture and structure in a 3D environment. People not noticing our work is taken as a success in our world!”

T: +44 (0)28 9022 1100

Thornton Roofing Ltd

Roofing and cladding experts Thornton Roofing (Ireland) Ltd delivered a specialist structural roof decking, architectural wall cladding and rainscreen for the South Lake Leisure Centre project.

There was an aluminium solid roof deck and an aluminium perforated roof deck, 8,500m2 single-ply insulated roofing system, roof edge protection and plant stepovers, roof access hatches, feature single-ply wall detail complete with standing seam profiles, PPC aluminium cappings supplied inhouse, Kingspan architectural wall cladding and rainscreen wall cladding (HPL).

Commenting on the project, Emmett McCann, Commercial Manager for Thornton Roofing said, “Due to the high level of design and forward thinking, we were able to capture all abutment issues prior to our site install dates, therefore the site install ran very smoothly. This in turn allowed our site teams to concentrate on the final finish and quality.

“As per all Farrans projects, from estimating, procurement, on-site through to completion, the Farrans teams approach every contract professionally and bring their supply chain along with them. We look forward and welcome working with Farrans through out 2021 delivering excellent projects through out the UK and Ireland.”

T: 028 796 50368

Evolution Healthcare

Specialist healthcare equipment supplier, Evolution Healthcare delivered the bespoke overhead hoist systems in the Changing Places disabled toilets and overhead solutions for the learner and vitality pools at South Lake Leisure Centre (SLLC). As well as overhead hoists and moving and handling products the NI-based firm supply and install tailor-made medical furniture and specialist seating for domestic homes, schools, care homes, hospitals and leisure centres.

Since starting in 2005, Evolution Healthcare has grown to become a major service provider to the NHS (NI and Scotland), HSE (ROI), private nursing homes and individuals.

Commenting on the project, Gerard O’Neill, Product Specialist for Evolution Healthcare said, “Our equipment provides an essential service for the disabled community, enabling them to use the amazing facilities within the centre. We are proud partners of AVESO, official equipment sponsors of the Changing Places consortium who promote enhanced changing and toilet facilities in public buildings.

Praising the main contractor, Gerard adds, “Farrans made a challenging project as simple as possible with excellent communication and coordination at all times.”

T: (NI) +44 (0)28 8772 7855
ROI +353 (0)1 247 9292


WYG provided civil, structural and BREEAM services for South Lake Leisure Centre, adding to their portfolio of successfully completed and high profile leisure centres throughout Northern Ireland.

Swimming pools have historically been sunk into the ground, however, at SLLC the design team took a different approach by lifting the building out of the ground as much as possible to minimise the amount of excavation, as Stephen Alford, Director for WYG explains, “The pools are accessed from first floor level, a feature which was developed successfully at the Blair Mayne Well Being & Leisure Centre in Newtownards.”

WYG is one of the largest multi-disciplinary consultancy practices in Northern Ireland and will rebrand as Tetra Tech in the New Year following a takeover by the global consultant in 2019.

Commending the successful delivery of SLLC, Stephen adds, “We are delighted to have worked with Farrans on this project. It continues a long history of collaborating with them to deliver high quality facilities.”

T: +44 (0) 28 9070 6000