Sport and Leisure Park FAQs

Frequently asked questions about the Sport and Leisure Park project

Frequently Asked Questions


  • What will be included in the facility?

    The Sport & Leisure Centre will feature:

    • 50m, eight-lane swimming pool
    • 20m x 10m learner pool
    • Splash pad and water confidence area
    • multi-use sports hall
    • Clip n climb facility
    • Four squash courts with moveable wall to enable flexible use
    • Hydrotherapy suite
    • Treatment or personal therapy rooms
    • Fitness suite with 200 workout stations
    • Two large studios and one spin studio
    • 250 spectator seats overlooking the main swimming pool
    • Café
  • What sports will be catered in the Sports Hall and at what level?

    The table below sets out levels of competition and the number of courts that can be played for each sport. Although not all of these will be marked when the centre is opened, markings can be added if required in the future.














    Cricket Practice / Indoor cricket








    5-a-side football








    Indoor Hockey












    Sports Hall Athletics









    -  Not catered for

    P Premier standard games

  • Will swimming lessons be offered at the new centre?

    Yes - a swimming lesson programme will be formulated for both children and adults at the new centre. There will be an opportunity for you to give your contact detials to the appointed operator so that you can receive 'Learn to swim' information prior to the centre opening. The much increased pool space will enable a much greater level of activity to take place.

  • Will I be able to sign up for membership of the new centre?

    Yes you will be able to submit your contact details to the operator so that you can receive early bird membership information prior ot the centre opening. The operator will produce information setting out details of membership benefits. The new fitness suite will include 200 staions and a spinning studio.

  • Will there be a new programme of classes at the new centre?

    Yes the new Sport & Leisure Centre will enable an excellent and exciting new programme of activities and classes to take place in the studios and sports hall. Everyone Active will be overseeing the development of a programme of classes at the new centre in conjunction with the Council.  There will be an opportunity for you to give them your contact details so that you can receive information and comment on the proposed classes programme prior to the centre opening.

  • Why have we decided to include an 8 court sports hall?

    The facility mix for the Sport & Leisure Centre - including the decision to include an 8 court sports hall, was based on several years of discussion, study/research and careful consideration supported by advice from sporting groups, clubs, governing bodies, stakeholders and potential partner organisations. The outcome of this research is detailed in the Sports Facility Needs Assessment (SFNA) 2017-2037 Report which was agreed by Cabinet in November 2017.

    River Park Leisure Centre has an 8 court hall; however it is now not compliant with current Sport England guidance and is effectively the equivalent of a 6 court hall as it does not have the required space for recommended run off areas around the courts.

    The proposed sports hall is a much higher specification and includes more run off areas, a sprung timber floor, higher quality lighting and modern changing accommodation offering a much higher level of flexibility for a wide variety of sports.

    In July 2016, the SFNA concluded there is an oversupply of sport halls in the district and that an 8 court sports hall in Winchester would meet the requirements of the local area for the foreseeable future. 

    It’s acknowledged there is a high demand for sports hall space at peak times. However the SFNA shows that 14 courts are under-utilised in the District. Officers are currently visiting all sports facilities with halls in the District with peak time availability to help unlock some availability. Officers will continue to work with sports clubs and sport hall providers to provide greater availability to these halls. Information on the findings will be available later this year.

    It has been agreed to look at the feasibility for a 4-court sport hall space in the south of the District and Officers are currently undertaking this work.

    Winchester College has received planning permission for an 8 court sports hall which is planned to open in 2022

  • What will the hydrotherapy suite be used for?

    The hydrotherapy pool will be used by patients with long term health conditions who will benefit from this type of treatment on weekdays during the day. At other times this pool can be used by members of the public for physiotherapy, sports injuries, pain relief or general relaxation.

    The hydrotherapy pool uses warmer water to support pain relief and health related treatments and is equipped with fully accessible changing facilities, steps and assisted pool hoist.



  • How can local sports clubs get involved?

    If you are a member of a sports club whereby the majority of your membership is from within the Winchester District and would like to make use of the new facilities then get in touch. Our Sport and Physical Activity Team will be happy to meet with you to discus your requirements and share the plans for this facility as they progress. 

  • What will happen to Junior Park Run?

    We met with the Junior Park Run organisers and talked about their options if the Centre is given planning consent for both during construction and after completion. Junior parkrun will be relocated to North Walls Recreation Ground for the duration of the construction period.

  • Why have we incorporated glazing into the east wall of the sports hall?

    The glazing in the sports hall will be very durable and will have rebound screens and netting in front of it. There will also be blinds which will be lowered when required for certain sports such as volleyball or badminton if being played during daylight hours. The glazing in the sports hall will greatly reduce the amount of energy required to light this space. This is accepted by Sport England and Sport Scotland as desirable in sports halls where increased activity and participation are required for all.

  • Will the Sports Stadium have two long jump pits?

    Yes. We would like to reassure athletes that neither of the long jump pits will be affected by the development of the Winchester Sport & Leisure Park development. Two long jump pits are part of the facility mix for the stadium.

  • Where will the Boxing Club be located once the current pavilion is demolished on the Garrison Ground?

    The Boxing Club has been temporarily relocated to a building in the Bar End area.  The club may relocate to a new pavilion on King George V playing field.  A feasibility study and engagement with residents in relation to this possible new pavilion is ongoing.

  • Will there be enough sports storage for equipment for all sports/activities?

    Yes, this has been reviewed and it has been confirmed that suitable size areas have been provided as per Sport England guidance.


  • How has the project included experts and local interest groups in decisions?

    Four advisory panels were set up toreview, advise and inform the project and it's development. They focused on:

    • Inclusivitiy
    • Design
    • Contract management
    • Sustainability.

    The summary report (docx, 95kb) is available here.

  • What steps have the Council taken to ensure the new Centre is accessible for all?

    We have consulted and thought carefully about how people get to the Sport & Leisure Centre, how they will move around it and within. The aim of providing a highly accessible facility that will enable anyone to use the building regardless of age, culture, ability or disability has been in the forefront of our minds. Our design has been shaped by input from a specialist Inclusivity Consultant, our Inclusivity Advisory Panel and the design adheres to current good practice guidance. Changing areas, toilets, walkways and spectator seating are designed in-line with current accessibility guidance, including 'Changing Places' facilities.

  • How many disabled parking spaces have been included in the plans?

    There will 10 disabled parking bays at the front of the Sport & Leisure Centre.

  • Are there any ‘changing places’ changing rooms?
  • Is there a lift?

    Yes, there is a large high specification lift included in the plans.  This Evaculift includes a battery back-up system to ensure operation can continue both in the event of a fire and in the event of a power outage. We have looked carefully at the number of lifts in the building and consider that due to the way that the proposed lift has been designed that one lift will meet our requirements. The proposed lift has been designed so that it is capable of providing good access to the first floor for wheelchair users and people with restricted mobility.

  • Are there any protected bookings at the new Centre?

    Winchester and District Sports Association for the Disabled will have free use of part of the main hall and part of the main pool on Friday evenings.

  • What provision will be made for Sport Club bookings?

    Bookings from Sports Clubs and organisations (with the majority of their members) from within the Winchester District will be given priority. Everyone Active with Winchester City Council will develop collaborations or partnerships with Sports Clubs, such as the swimming club and the fitness and sports club (over 50s) in the form of community use agreements.

  • Will there be discounts for target groups?

    The following groups (as a result of purchasing a Saver Card) will be entitled to receive a 50% discount on pay as you go prices during off-peak times:

    • Registered students with current NUS card
    • Registered unemployment (claiming benefits)
    • Registered disabled (claiming benefits)
    • A lone parent receiving income support
    • Older persons in receipt of Pension Credit - Guaranteed Element
    • Carers
  • What consideration has there been for sport development and health and wellbeing at the new Centre?

    The Leisure Centre Operator will acknowledge the importance of sport development and wellbeing by preparing and implementing annual sport development and health and wellbeing plans. These plans will closely reflect WCC priorities and the themes in the Winchester District Sport and Physical Activity Framework, and take account of the needs of the District to include appropriate breadth of programming, active promotion of healthy lifestyles and partnerships appropriate clubs and organisations. Specifically, the Operator will indicate how these plans aim to:

    • Encourge inactive people in the District to become active
    • Reduce the proportion of people in the District becoming inactive

Viewing areas

  • Will there be viewing areas to the sport halls and pool areas?

    There are four viewing areas:

    1) Viewing around the perimeter of the sports hall at ground floor level, rebound screens/nets at ground floor will allow viewing from the circulation / gallery space.  

    2) The glazing to first floor circulation spaces will provide a viewing area over the sports hall.

    3) A viewing area in the café will allow parents/groups to see the teaching pool which will also be useful for lessons, parties or other events.

    4) Spectator seating in the pool hall  

  • Will there be spectator seating provided for special events held in the sports hall?

    The sports hall will have large double doors opening directly onto a loading bay to enable temporary seating to be hired and brought in for special events.  This is an option often preferred by sports clubs as it provides greater flexibility. This is considered appropriate by Sport England and National Governing Bodies. 

  • Why did we decide against permanent bleacher seating in the sports hall?

    A business case for permanent bleacher seating to the sports hall was considered as part of the overall facility mix. It was agreed that there was not a case for permanent seating and the operator would have greater flexibility by hiring seating for events that require it.

  • Why use rebound screens?

    The use of rebound screens in Sports Halls is accepted practice in many similar halls. The National Governing Bodies have no objections to the use of rebound screens. The advantage of using screens is that it opens up the Sports Hall to ground floor viewing whilst allowing access through the Centre to the Sports Stadium to the rear enabling integrated events to take place e.g. triathlons.

  • Is there an area for parents/ guardians to watch children’s swimming lessons?

    A viewing area in the café to allow parents/groups to see the small teaching pool which will be useful for lessons, parties or other events. This is in addition to the spectator seating within the pool hall.

Changing & Drop off areas 

  • How many dry-side group changing rooms will there be?

    There are 4 dry side changing rooms. Two on ground floor and two on 1st Floor.

  • Is there a drop off area for swimming lessons?


  • Is there a car drop off area outside of the Centre? 

    Yes. There is a car drop off area outside of the main entrance of the Centre.

  • What changing facilities will there be for umpires and referees?

    Dedicated changing rooms have not been provided for officials in the proposed Sport and Leisure Centre. Such changing facilities would only be used when higher level sporting activities take place at the Centre and at other times these would remain unused. It should be noted that none of the clubs consulted have specifically requested this and nor have Sport England or the National Governing Bodies of Sport.

    The new building including changing provision has been designed in accordance with the requirements of Sport England and with the input of all the major Governing Bodies of Sport.

    There is a provision within the building for variable changing to cater for a variety of different events. There will be 4 sets of flexible changing areas provided that could  provide changing for officials. These flexible areas include cubical and group changing to provide privacy, they are located in the following areas of the Centre:

    1.    Sports Hall and Squash Courts

    2.    Swimming Pools

    3.    Fitness Suite and Studios

    4.    Hydrotherapy Suite

    All these changing areas are flexible and connected and can be used for different purposes by the operator so that if umpires/referees have an occasional defined requirement for separate changing area these will be allocated by the management of the building by prior arrangement.  This is the normal method of operating and managing events and competitions at most centres.

  • Why have we decided to include a 'Changing Village' for the swimming pool changing facilities?

    The design of the wet-side changing has been developed in line with Sport and Swim  England guidance. It provides clear sightlines for staff through the space to help to police against the issue of voyeurism and identify suspicious behaviour. In addition, the design has included four separate group change spaces, with two separate ‘changing places’.  The male and female showers have been segregated and again located to enable management staff to clearly identify movement between the two spaces.

    Offering the separate access to the toilets has been focused on the requirement for pool users to access the toilets on the way to the pool as well as to address the need for changing use and again ties into the principle of increasing visibility of movement between the two spaces so that any tailgating can be clearly identified.  

    This needs to be very carefully managed by the operator and the Council will monitor this and work closely with the operator. Segregated changing areas into male and female we may cause other issues for users such parents supervising children or a gender-neutral person and our design allows for families to change together, which is seen as positive.

Parking and access


Aims & Vision

  • What is the vision for the project?

    Our vision is to build a centre that:

    • Reflects sporting needs and aspirations for the people of our District
    • Is flexible to provide for current and future sporting needs and trends Is deliverable and affordable
    • Is in a park setting providing additional sporting and leisure opportunities
    • Provides an excellent water based offer for community use


  • What are the project objectives?
    • To provide accessible public sport and leisure facilities to improve the health and happiness of the District’s residents
    • To increase participation in sport and active recreation
    • To improve the quality and energy efficiency of Winchester’s main leisure facility
    • To provide a Sport and Leisure Centre that is financially sustainable


  • How will the Leisure Centre be funded?

    The Council will borrow most of the money and pay it back over a number of years. If the new sport & leisure centre generated a surplus of income over expenditure, which it will over the life time of the centre, then this will pay back most of the money. This means that there will be no cost to the Council tax payer.

  • When will the Full Business Case be discussed?

    The Full Business Case was discussed and approved at the Cabinet Leisure Centre Committee in February 2019.



  • What are the key environmental considerations in this project?

    The environmental considerations have been considered in line with the project vison and objectives. 

    Energy usage is a key consideration and so natural light and ventilation has been used where possible but balanced alongside the desires of sports clubs and leisure centre users.

    In addition, access issues and meeting the needs of all people who wish to use the new centre have to be considered and met in a balanced and an affordable way.

    A Sustainability Advisory Group was established to consider the environmental impact of the new facility.

  • Will the building be sustainable?

    The Council is fully committed to reducing its carbon footprint and the design and supporting information submitted with the Sport & Leisure Centre planning application reflects this.

    The new Sport & Leisure Centre is a completely different facility to the existing facility at River Park and so cannot be directly compared in terms of its impact on the environment. However, it is anticipated energy usage per square metre per annum will be significantly better (by around 27% based upon our current energy performance modelling work compared to current usage at the existing centre).

    By using a passive design and designing in energy efficiency measures our strategy aims to achieve:

    • a 16.8% reduction in CO2 emissions beyond the Building Regulations,
    • an EPC(A) rating, and
    • a BREEAM rating of ‘Excellent’
  • How are we encouraging sustainable travel?

    Our travel plan includes cyclist and pedestrian enhancements, new crossing facilities across Bar End Road and new street lighting. 

    We have built in a range of improvement measures which link the wider cycling and walking networks to the Leisure Centre. The Sport & Leisure Centre will be accessible from the park and ride bus services and the Stagecoach Service Number 4. 

River Park Leisure Centre questions