During the weekend of 12th/13th March 2016 thousands of skilled swimmers and excited shoppers descended on Wycombe District Council’s Handy X Hub.
More than 1,000 swimmers took part in the biggest ever gala to be held in High Wycombe, the first at the new Wycombe Leisure Centre, with hopefuls trying to book their spot at the British Swimming Championships which is doubling up as Team GB trials for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Just next door, foodies were lapping up the delicious products on offer at Waitrose, with the store reporting footfall and sales which ‘exceeded all expectations’ following the grand opening on last Thursday 10th March 2016.
The demolition of the old Wycombe Sports Centre has also begun as the wider site is prepared for future development marking a busy few days at the Handy X Hub, which also features the High Wycombe Coachway and park-and-ride service.
Wycombe District Council Leader Cllr Katrina Wood said: ‘Congratulations to the Wycombe District Swimming Club for organising such a successful event, which not only showcases the state-of-the-art facilities at our new leisure centre to a wider audience but also puts the town on the sporting map.
I’m also delighted that Waitrose has reported a hugely successful first week in their wonderful new home, and thrilled that so many people both residents of the district and visitors from further afield are enjoying the great mixture of facilities on offer at our new Handy X Hub site. The car parks were full all weekend but operated smoothly.
But we are not dwelling on the early success of the Handy X Hub. The demolition of the old leisure centre is the next step in the redevelopment, which will further boost the district’s economy and employment opportunities.‘
Multiple Olympians, junior internationals, national champions and high calibre swimmers competed in the L1 Meet organised by the WDSC over Saturday 12th March 2016 and Sunday 13th March 2016.
They posted times in various events to put them on the national rankings to gain qualification to the British Swimming Championships in Glasgow which is doubling up as Team GB’s trials for Rio 2016.
WDSC Head Coach Kevin Brooks said: ‘It was fantastic to hold our first competition in the new pool at the Wycombe Leisure Centre.
The competition was the most oversubscribed UK club competitions in recent history and a huge success, which is down to the great partnership between WDSC and Places for People Leisure, along with the tremendous hard work from our club volunteers.‘
Roberto Pavioni, a London 2012 Olympian, added: ‘The pool is fantastic. It was great to race in. I’m sure this pool will help local swimmers achieve there swimming dreams.‘
Waitrose High Wycombe, built by Wycombe District Council and leased back to the retailer, said its first week sales were almost 20% higher than predicted.
Paul Taylor, branch manager, said: ‘We’ve had an exceptional first week, with sales almost 20 percent higher than we anticipated. Footfall was high on the opening day, but that continued throughout the week, exceeding all our expectations.
New concepts such as the sushi bar and juice bar are proving particularly popular as is our focus on hospitality with customers enjoying the café and bakery areas.
We’re grateful to everyone that’s supported us and look forward to continuing to get to know our customers and the community here in High Wycombe.‘
Meanwhile, the ‘soft stripping’ of the old Wycombe Sports Centre began earlier in March 2016 with diggers from contractors DSM moving on to the site this week to begin the demolition of the 40-year-old building. The work is expected take ten weeks.
The demolition of the old sports centre clears the site for the next proposed phase of the Handy X Hub project which includes new offices and a hotel.
For more information about the Handy X Hub development visit www.wycombe.gov.uk.