Willmott Dixon has signed a contract with Rochdale Borough Council to build the town centre’s new leisure centre, due to open in 2012.

The company was appointed in August to develop plans to deliver the £10.8m project and work will start on the Entwisle Road site in November.

Plans for the centre include an eight-lane swimming pool, a learner pool and a thermal suite as well as a sports hall, a fitness suite, dance studios, a youth gym and a 167 space car park.

Councillor David Clayton, Cabinet Member for Environment and Leisure said: “This is going to be a great new centre. In recent months we’ve heard of many local authorities having to take difficult decisions and close sports and leisure centres, but we feel it’s vital that we offer fantastic fitness facilities that will encourage people to get fit and stay fit.”

The new centre will be built just yards from Central Leisure on Entwisle Road, with the current Central Leisure building being demolished once the new sports and leisure centre is open.

Willmott Dixon has more than 25 years of experience in delivering leisure and culture facilities and in the last decade has built over 100 pools and 70 leisure facilities. One of their most recent projects is the international pool in Corby which will be a training venue in the run up to the 2012 London Olympics. It also constructed another Olympic training venue at the University of Surrey, which features a 50m pool.

Willmott Dixon’s managing director for the North West, Anthony Dillon, said: “It’s great news for all the team that we have signed the contract. We already have a big presence in Rochdale though our work on St Anne’s Academy in Middleton, and like that project, we will aim to ensure our work benefits local businesses as much as possible through the sub contractors we use.”

Rochdale’s Service Director for Regeneration, John Percival, said: “Within about one mile there’s a significant amount of regeneration work going on in the town centre. Along with work starting for the new sports and leisure centre, just further along the road the new Aldi store is almost ready to open and then on Smith Street the clearance of the site for the new customer service centre, library and council offices is well underway. Of course on the opposite side of the centre the Sixth Form College is open bringing hundreds of young people into the town centre and work is starting in order to bring Metrolink to the train station by 2012 and into the town centre by 2014. It’s all great news.

“Change really is happening and it’s there for everyone to see. Within two years this area will be transformed and then demolition of buildings such as the Municipal Offices, the bus station and car park will begin to make way for the multi-million pound retail and leisure development.”