Next Steps to Provide Modern Leisure and Swimming Facilities Announced

READING Borough Council’s plans to provide new leisure and swimming facilities for residents moved a step closer this week.

The Council’s commitment to provide modern and much-improved facilities for swimmers, keep fit and sports enthusiasts in Reading – including the building of two modern new swimming pools – is now gaining momentum following the finalisation of a detailed leisure requirement specification.

This document sets out the key aspirations for Reading’s new and improved leisure facilities and, subject to the affordability of potential proposals, includes:

  • A new-build solution at Rivermead, incorporating a new competition standard pool  with provision for diving
  • A new community pool at Palmer Park linked to existing facilities
  • Improvements to existing leisure centres at South Reading and Meadway

The Council has additionally included a proposal for funding to invest £30.5m in the new facilities in its Capital Programme. This will be considered at Full Council on February 26th.

From today (22 January), the Council is inviting interested leisure operators to submit their detailed leisure solution proposals.

These submissions will be evaluated in April, with dialogue taking place with the potential operators during June and the deadline for final submissions in early July. The contract would be awarded in September and commence from January 2020.

A number of local clubs and user groups have provided feedback on their aspirations for what new facilities should provide. This feedback will be shared with bidders to help inform their development of proposals.

Cllr Graeme Hoskin
Cllr Hoskin

Cllr Graeme Hoskin, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Sport, said:

“I’m delighted we are now in a position to launch the next stage of the leisure procurement process.

“The Council is fully committed to investing in and delivering modern sports facilities in Reading. Our ambition is to ensure as wide a range of leisure facilities as possible would be included in the new contract. The announcement of the next stage of our procurement process this week is a significant milestone in the journey to realising this ambition.

“The modern facilities will be delivered by the new operator, identified through our detailed procurement process, and that partner will also be responsible for the day to day management of the sites.

“The procurement tender includes plans to open a brand new community pool at Palmer Park, linked to existing sports facilities. It will also include plans for the long-term replacement for Central Pool on the Rivermead site, including dedicated diving provision. As well as the improved facilities, this will also enable the introduction of membership and customer schemes allowing access to all Council facilities, which is an option often requested by residents.”

Today’s news follows on from the launch of a public consultation in December 2018 to help shape the future of Palmer Park, including the plans to build a modern new community swimming pool. This consultation runs until 22nd February 2019. Find out more and view the Draft Palmer Park Planning Framework at www.reading.gov.uk/palmerpark.

Reading Borough Council is now also in a position to confirm that it has agreed to sell the Arthur Hill site to its preferred bidder OOAK Developments. The Reading-based company is currently reviewing its development proposals for the site, which may include options for residential redevelopment, and which will be subject to obtaining planning permission.

The announcement follows a detailed bidding process last year, with the preferred bidder agreed in closed session at a meeting of the Council’s Policy Committee in July. The name of the preferred bidder had not been made public up to this point because it remained commercially confidential.

Reading Borough Council is committed to invest a sum equivalent to the capital receipt arising from the sale of the Arthur Hill site, into the planned new leisure facilities in Reading.

Notes to Editor:

The Council procurement process began in March 2018 to identify a single partner leisure provider to improve and operate all its indoor leisure facilities across the town. In order to minimise costs and drive the best possible value for money, both new and existing facilities would be delivered and managed by a development partner specialising in leisure provision.  The plan is to award a contract that encompasses the design, build, operation and management of the facilities.

Last year GLL (Greenwich Leisure Limited) agreed an early break in its contract to allow Rivermead Leisure Centre to be included in a single new integrated borough-wide leisure offer for residents.

Plans for a brand new community pool at Palmer Park, to replace the closed Arthur Hill Pool, and the long-term replacement for Central Pool – a modern new competition pool, complete with diving provision, which will be located on land at Rivermead – form a major part of the procurement process.

Facilities at Palmer Park Stadium, Meadway Sports Centre and South Reading Leisure Centre will also be included, as will, initially, the temporary demountable pool which opened in January 2018 to replace Central Pool in the short-term.

The plan to modernise Reading’s leisure facilities involves a complex procurement, design and build process. The current timetable shows the appointment of an operator in September 2019, who will then, after a mobilisation period, implement their detailed proposals and build out the new facilities, as well as operating existing facilities.

Oscar Mortali

For media enquiries about this release email oscar.mortali@reading.gov.uk or call 0118 937 2301