Work is expected to begin in January on building a new leisure centre in Forest Hill, Lewisham, following the award of a construction contract to Willmott Dixon.

Roberts Limbrick Architects will work alongside Willmott Dixon to create the new complex with two new pools and other leisure facilities on the site of the former Forest Hill Pools. The existing Victorian frontage of Forest Hill Pools will be retained.

Facilities in the new building will include a 25-metre pool, a 16.7-metre learner pool, fitness gym, two studios, community room and a café. The new development will include facilities and access for those people with disabilities.

Councillor Alan Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “I am delighted that we are now able to move towards the next crucial stage of this long-awaited facility.

“Willmott Dixon made an excellent and detailed bid and I have complete confidence that the company will meet the challenges demanded by this complex structural engineering project. The company clearly understood the constraints of the site and have taken an innovative approach to their site set-up.”

Councillor Chris Best, Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “This whole project has benefited hugely from close collaboration and partnership.

“The final design was very much the result of a strong working relationship between the architects and the stakeholder group that was set up by the Council to liaise closely with residents. Together we found a solution that meets the needs of the local community and recognises the limited space available.”

“We have an excellent design provided by Roberts Limbrick Architects and now with Willmott Dixon on board we have an excellent construction company to build it.”

“The two companies will now work very closely together to deliver the new facilities. Willmott Dixon will start work on the site from January 2011 and we fully expect the leisure centre to be open to the public by the end of 2012.”

Mark Tant, Managing Director at Willmott Dixon, said: “We are delighted to be given the opportunity to create a fantastic new pool in Forest Hill. We’ve done a lot of work in recent years in Lewisham, such as Hither Green Primary School and Crossways Academy, and like those projects, we will aim to ensure our work benefits local businesses as much as possible through the sub contractors we use.”