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Burgess Hill Special Needs School

The Triangle Leisure Centre - EXPOSED

11th March 2011
By Scott McCarthy

In 1999, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II opened the sparkling jewel in the Mid Sussex Leisure Services crown, The Triangle Leisure Centre. In 2003 an independent audit commission report was highly commendable of the leisure centre, stating it to be “well maintained, provide a wide range of activities and well used.” By 2009 though, things had gone rapidly downhill. Burgess Hill Uncovered was recently handed a report into all of the problems that plagued the facility, and for the first time we are able to lift the lid on just how the design and build of The Triangle is falling apart only a decade into use.

The Entrance Roof
The overhanging roof that covers the entrance to the building is made from soffit. This began to suffer damage as soon as 2000, mainly because of youths throwing and bouncing balls to see if they were able to hit the roof. By 2007 it had reached the point whereby the structure was completely ruined, and any strong gust of wind coming through could easily have resulted in the metal panels coming lose and falling to the ground, causing serious injury. The Triangle realised the danger of this and in 2009 refitted the roof at significant cost, but the problem will more than likely rear its ugly head again in a few years time as the lack of on-site security means that youths are still carrying out their fun game of trying to hit the roof with very little deterrent.

Fancy A Trip?
Navigating the changing rooms is a sport in itself. For some reason the Triangle staff like to leave dragged coils of hoses lying around the area to keep customers on their toes, or not on their toes if they trip over them! Just where is the signage to warn the public of the tripping hazards?

The Health Suite
Problems have surfaced within the heath suite since day one. The boiler for the steam room is an appliance that should have a lifespan of twenty years, yet the one in the Triangle is known to have had to be replaced or completely reconditioned at least three times. The thermostat for the steam room has also failed to work, with the blame being placed on cold water being sprayed onto it. Spray-proof thermostats, complete with that modern contraption of a cover, are available for around £20-£30, yet the Triangle merely screwed a Tesco cosmetics tray over the top, while screws dangerously stick out from the steam outlet.

Within the facilities showers, another cost-cutting measure is evident with the use of a rainwater gully drain, the sort of thing you will find outside of your home as opposed to a dedicated metal drain fitting which features in the main swimming pool showers.

The sauna has its fair share of troubles as well. Around 2005, it was due a total refurbishment but instead a number of corners were cut leaving it in its current sorry state. Screws stuck out of the benches, damaged wood was merely re-cut and used again and where it did actually need replacing, pine was used instead of spruce or a similar sauna-friendly wood which resulted in hot, sticky sap being released onto areas where people were meant to sit. And the danger cherry on top of the sauna cake, the condition of the benches has again deteriorated to the point whereby they are rotting away and there are a number of broken mortice joints.

The Swimming Pool Area
Where to begin on this particular area? Well, the tiles are a major cause of concern, which has largely arisen because of the cleaning practices. Widely used cleaning chemicals such as those manufactured by Avmor and Clover are used in leisure facilities across the country owing to their effectiveness for cleaning wet tiled areas. The Triangle though uses Selden Lime Fresh, which is not even recommended by Selden as a cleaner for poolsides, with it’s actual use being listed as hotel rooms. The result – erosion of the grout joining in the tiles which could lead to whole sections of floor needing to be ripped up and replaced.

The non-slip mats that are used within in the poolside area are a hazard to themselves. The mats are often cleaned during opening times, leaving large areas as a dangerous slip hazard. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the dirt that the mats have accumulated is then left on the floor, giving the public no choice but to walk through it. When the floors themselves are cleaned, the mats are then just bundled into a disabled cubicle, transferring all the dirt that was left on them onto surfaces including the walls, baby changing facilities and benches. Of course, had the correct non-slip tiles been installed in the original build of the Triangle, then there would be no need for these mats at all.

In all of the swimming pools within the facility, including within the health suite and the whirlpool bath there tends to be a build up of sand and grit which comes about through inadequate cleaning of the pools. Well dried bio film contamination is also evident on the side of the swiming pool, surprisingly evident just weeks after a 'deep clean' of the centre.

The Gymnasium
The gymnasium is one of the biggest growth areas within The Triangle as more and more people become concerned about health and fitness. When constructing a new building, as is the case at the Princess Royal Hospital for example, it is general practice to leave yourself room to expand areas that you expect to grow and be able to reclaim areas that are less popular. With the design of The Triangle, they have failed to do this with the gym being “landlocked” on all sides – by namely the entrance, the reception area, the car park and the swimming pool. The one area in which they could increase turnover is effectively unable to expand – a problem that will become compounded should the car park become developed.

Detailed Signage On Doors
Common sense clearly took a holiday when staff decided where to place public information throughout the building.
As the image on the left shows, putting up key notices such as timetables that are in small text and take time to read close up (like the fitness swimming timetable on the main entrance and only entrance doors to the Aztec and Fitness swimming pool) so that the reader is standing directly in the way of the swing of the door in an alcove, is completely stupid and could easily result in an injury, most likey concussion or a broken nose.

Why did it all go so wrong?

So, why has it all gone wrong for The Triangle? Well, put simply it comes down to poor building practice. The “design and build” culture is a cheaper way of putting up facilities, and this is shown in the deterioration after just a decade of use. Shortcutting by using the wrong tiles, chemicals and wood to save money at the time and even to this day will, in the long run, end up costing the council a far greater expense, as the £1m+ plus refit required of the Aztec Pool in the near future is testament to, while the lack of dedicated security for the sake of one extra employers wages just compounds the problem. It’s an important lesson that has to be learnt, particularly with the 20 Year Plan of redeveloping the town centre likely to feature the same design and build culture that has left The Triangle reeling after just a decade of use.

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Talk to us - What's the Triangle Leisure Centre like now?
This report into the Triangle's facilities was compiled in 2009 and originally sent to Mid Sussex District Council. We'd like to know from you if there have been any improvements made over the past two years or if the centre is now in a poorer state. Let us know your observations either by leaving a comment below or by emailing us

There's more to come : We're not out of bullets just yet, a second installment of the Triangle report will appear in due course. It will not disappoint!

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