THE first phase of a £4.2million redevelopment of St Ives’ leisure facilities has been completed.

From Monday (February 25) residents will be able to enjoy One Leisure's new five-lane tenpin bowling alley in what has been the first investment in the Huntingdonshire District Council centre for 15 years.

Users are already benefiting from a modernised cafe and reception area, with turnstiles designed to make entry into the gym faster and more efficient to improve the "customer experience".

Work is now underway on redeveloping the top floor of the three-tier building, which will become a larger fitness suite with an Olympic weight lifting facility, as well as bespoke spa facility with six treatment rooms.

When that is finished in about 12 weeks, builders will move to the middle floor to complete the renovation, where there will be two new dance studios.

Simon Bell, One Leisure's general manager, said: "We had already redeveloped our sites in Huntingdon and St Neots, both of which have been huge successes.

"St Ives was next on the list, as it was prime for redevelopment. The area is growing so much with new housing developments. Our gym and leisure facilities are great but they are not big enough for everyone."

The facility already has 500,000 users per year and Mr Bell hopes the expansion of the building by 570sq m, to 8,070sq m, will attract even more people from the town and beyond.

Part of the thinking behind the redevelopment, he says, was to "change the whole experience" around going to One Leisure.

"People used to have to queue down the stairs or even outside when coming for activities," he said.

"That experience is now made easier by the new turnstiles, as it speeds up getting into the centre.

"Although this is a council-operated gym, we have to compete with private operators and people expect a certain standard."

He added that this was also the first time One Leisure has offered bowling at its site and that it would offer people a "different kind of experience".

The project, which started in the autumn last year, will take approximately one year in total to complete and bring the St Ives centre, built in 1974, in line with the other One Leisure facilities in Huntingdon and St Neots.