£13m plan revealed to transform South Ribble’s leisure centres

All four of South Ribble’s leisure centres are set to undergo a major transformation after the local authority announced plans for a £13m overhaul of its gyms, pools and sports halls.

By Brian Ellis
Friday, 8th April 2022, 4:43 pm

Papers to be discussed by councillors after Easter will see a “once in a generation” investment in the buildings that will transform the sites – two in Bamber Bridge and one each in Leyland and Penwortham – into state-of-the-art facilities.

Around £8m is to be invested by the council, alongside up to £5m of funding received to decarbonise the buildings.

The move comes just a year after the authority took back control of the leisure centres from private operator Serco.

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Bamber Bridge will be one of four leisure centres to get a refurb.

The announcement builds on the council’s ambitious plans for leisure to improve the health and quality of life for residents.

“This will be amazing news for the borough and one of the biggest investments this council will ever make in leisure,” said council leader Coun Paul Foster.

“One of the benefits of us bringing the centres back in-house has been that greater control and flexibility to give residents what they want.

"It has been a challenging period in the leisure industry following the transition during Covid, but we believe this will give us facilities that are the envy of others and encourage more people to get active.

South Ribble Tennis Centre.

“This investment will do two things – it will decarbonise our leisure centres and allow necessary upgrades to allow that to happen, which is really important as part of our target to become carbon neutral by 2030.

"And a further phase of work will come forward in May that will outline plans for a complete transformation of the pools, changing areas, gym equipment, sports halls, flooring and exterior appearance.

"It is a game changer for us.”

The major investment in the existing centres marks a move away from the idea of creating one brand new leisure centre, which the council says would have been unattainable with the soaring costs of construction and would have meant closing at least one of the centres in the local communities.

Leyland Leisure Centre

The improvements will also be based on feedback from residents who either use the centres or don’t because of their tired condition.

“The previous administration’s plan to create a new leisure centre and to close existing centres is no longer viable or acceptable for our community and over the last 18 months the stars have aligned for us to revisit this and look at a much more cost effective solution that will maintain all four centres in the communities they serve,” added councillor Foster.

“If we look at the costs of building a new leisure centre some councils are looking at the best part of £40m to provide the sort of facility people in our borough deserve.

“Thanks to our efforts on climate change we have been able to secure significant funding to decarbonise the centres, which puts us in a position where we can afford to completely refurbish the centres we have so they are just like new.

The popular pool at Penwortham Leisure Centre.

“If the plans are approved at council and we make the changes it will have a dual benefit for us because it will help support our residents to be healthier.”