With the appointment of the new leisure provider, Places for People, it’s exciting times at our borough’s leisure centres with significant investment planned to improve the experience for all residents.
Places for People is due to take over the running of our leisure centres from 1 May. The new 15-year contract will cover Loddon Valley Leisure Centre, Carnival Pool, St Crispin’s Sports Centre, and Bulmershe Leisure Centre, as well as Arborfield Leisure Centre and Ryeish Leisure Centre.
Places for People Leisure is a social enterprise that is passionate about improving opportunities for communities to be physically active. It’s one of the largest leisure operators in the UK managing a portfolio of more than 100 leisure facilities for local authorities across the country. As a social enterprise, its focus is on improving residents’ health and wellbeing.
As part of the new contract, huge improvements planned across the borough include two new council-built facilities to replace Bulmershe Leisure Centre and Carnival Pool.
At Bulmershe, a modern building will replace the existing unattractive, outdated, and expensive-to-run facility (subject to planning permission). The new state-of-the-art centre will include a six-lane 25m swimming pool and teaching pool, a larger gym, a four-court sports hall, additional studio, and long-term condition gym.
The new Bulmershe site will have a new café so that families can relax and refuel, following a swim in one of the new pools.
The current centre was built in the 1970s and its facilities are tired and in desperate need of investment to bring it up to the standard required to help us realise our vision, ‘to create a great place to live, an even better place to do business’ as well as our borough-wide health and wellbeing strategy.
Our leisure facilities offer many preventative health services, which in turn takes additional weight off our social care budget which is already under severe financial pressure. The new Bulmershe Leisure Centre will bring huge benefits to both The Bulmershe School and its surrounding community. A better range of more accessible facilities will benefit everyone - young people, families, and the elderly. It will also encourage more physical activity in Woodley and surrounding area, including Earley, as well as provide more support to those with long-term health conditions to help us become healthier as a Borough.
The start of redevelopment of the Carnival site in late 2020 will also see a brand new, state-of-the-art facility on the site of the existing leisure centre. The leisure centre will include a six-lane swimming pool, an improved teaching pool and spa area with sauna and steam facilities, large main gym and separate specialist gym for those with long term conditions, four-court indoor sports hall, new studios for classes and events, new changing areas including individual showers and changing cubicles as well as a number of community spaces including seating for cultural events.
Like Bulmershe, the new Carnival site will have a brand new café complete with a viewing area, so people can enjoy a coffee and bite to eat while watching swimming events.
The new teaching pools at Bulmershe and Carnival will have movable floors, to give greater flexibility for a larger range of groups of all ages and abilities and allow for splash sessions.
Significant investment into the existing leisure facilities are also planned elsewhere. Ryeish Leisure Centre is being refurbished with a cutting-edge fitness suite and dance studio, with a full size 3G pitch being added ahead of its re-opening this summer. A new 3G sports pitch will also be built in Arborfield, and work has started on a new skate park at St Crispin’s Leisure Centre.
Cllr Norman Jorgensen, executive member for environment, sports, environmental health, leisure and libraries said: “Our residents are some of the healthiest in Britain and make extensive use of our leisure facilities. At a time when other local authorities are looking to scale back leisure provision and close centres, we’re instead improving ours with self-funding brand new centres and other state-of-the-art facilities.”