South Reading Leisure Centre

Further boost to Reading’s leisure centres proposed

  • £295,000 for South Reading Leisure Centre pool
  • £36,000 for waymarked pedestrian route for vision impaired users at Palmer Park

PROPOSALS to provide a further boost to local leisure facilities in Reading, in addition to the existing £40 million investment in new leisure centres and swimming pools, are being considered this week.

The plans include £295,000 to upgrade the pool at South Reading Leisure Centre.  South Reading has recently benefited from a revamped gym and equipment, with refurbished dry changing rooms, reception and studio space. If approved, work on the pool and wet changing rooms would start in the new year, with the pool reopening in Spring 2023.

The start of the work has been timed to coincide with the opening of the brand new 6-lane community pool at Palmer Park, giving residents the option of swimming at Palmer Park during the South Reading pool closure.

Palmer Park - view of monument

At Palmer Park, where a new community swimming pool is being built, additional plans now propose a £36,000 investment in wayfinding from the Wokingham Road to the new pool complex. The wayfinding scheme was suggested by visually impaired users of the existing facilities at Palmer Park Sport Stadium, and developed with advice from residents with visual impairments. Tactile paving from the park entrance to the new sports facilities will enable people arriving at the park on foot or by bus to guide themselves by walking on the tactile surface or by maintaining contact with a long cane.

Cllr Adele Barnett-Ward, Lead Councillor for Leisure and Culture, said: “I’m delighted that we are proposing further investment in improving the popular and well-used pool in South Reading. Although there has, rightly, been a focus on the new leisure facilities we’re delivering at Rivermead and Palmer Park, our improvements to the Meadway Sports Centre and South Reading Leisure Centre are just as important for local people. The Council’s investment in these popular centres demonstrates our commitment to providing high-quality leisure facilities throughout the borough.

I am very grateful to the blind and partially sighted people who engaged with us over the Palmer Park tactile paving project. It is vital that the new pool and sports facility work for everyone, whatever their fitness level or accessibility needs, and this wayfinding will enable people with visual impairments to easily navigate the route across the park to the pool and stadium.”

Separately to these proposals, the Council is also looking to enter into formal funding agreements with Sport England, for £1.5 million towards the costs of the new leisure facilities at Rivermead and Palmer Park.

Cllr Barnett-Ward added: “Confirmation of Reading’s successful bid for £1.5 million from Sport England, is further fantastic news for this major project, and our partnership and the investment from Sport England really demonstrates the importance of these new facilities for the town.”

A report going before the Council’s Policy Committee on Wednesday 21 September, sets out a recommendation for approval to repair the structure of the South Reading Leisure Centre Pool Tank, requests delegation of the decision to create the vision impaired paving route at Palmer Park and delegation of the decision to enter into Sport England funding agreements. The full report can be viewed here:

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Notes to editors

Throughout the leisure project’s procurement, planning and build process the Council has been working closely with Sport England. The Council was invited by Sport England to submit an expression of interest to the Strategic Facilities Investment Fund in 2021. The expression of interest for the £1.5m grant was submitted in May 2021.

A bid for £1m for Rivermead and £500k for Palmer Park were applied for in May 2021and Sport England have advised the Council that it has been successful in its application.