Leisure centre work continues

A detailed financial assessment of options considering affordability of a new leisure centre in Winchester has now been completed. The options were narrowed down by the City Council’s Cabinet in December 2014.

The work shows that costs range between £4m and £6m for refurbishment of the existing River Park Leisure Centre and between £27m and £29m for building a replacement leisure centre at either River Park or Bar End in Winchester. The assessment provides thorough analysis of each option.

A new leisure centre could deliver much-improved facilities such as a 25m or 50m pool, a hydrotherapy pool, 8- or 12-court sports hall, four squash courts, increased health and fitness facilities, an artificial grass pitch and new tennis courts.

Part of the work involved fresh discussions with potential partners to identify available funding – this included Winchester University, Hampshire County Council, the Pinder Trust, and Winchester Sport and Leisure Trust.

There was consensus from potential partners that Bar End offers the best location for a replacement for the River Park Leisure Centre, and this is the option most likely to attract their financial support. One of the key advantages of the site is seen as the opportunity for future growth in facilities.

However, no decisions have been made as yet, and each option raises challenges. If Bar End were to be chosen as the preferred location, careful consideration would be given to the future use of the existing River Park Leisure Centre site. The Council will consult with residents both of Hyde and Highcliffe, as well as the wider district, leisure centre users and sports clubs before a decision on the preferred way forward is made. The Council will want to realise the exciting opportunities this project offers, whilst managing carefully the impact of any change.

Cllr Stephen Godfrey, the Leader of Winchester City Council, said:

This piece of work provides essential financial information for councillors to make an informed decision on the future of Winchester’s leisure facilities and move forward with this major project.

The City Council will continue discussions with the University and others, and a report will be taken to Cabinet in the early autumn to allow councillors to select an option to pursue.