Rivermead Leisure Centre ‘phased opening’ could go to 2024

Reading Borough Council has spearheaded a project to upgrade swimming pools and leisure centres in the town since it signed a £43 million leisure contract in January 2020.

The council selected Greenwhich Lesuire Ltd (GLL) as its provider, trading under the Better facilities brand.

But despite a big investment, the project to build a new look Rivermead Leisure Complex has been hit with delays, with GLL admitting ‘a phased opening’ of the new facilities could stretch until 2024.

Recently, GLL gave a project update stating the main external frame, internal structure and swimming pool structure of the new complex has been completed.

However, the pool cannot be opened due to GLL’s contractor, Pellikaan Construction, requiring an ‘abstraction licence’ from the Environment Agency (EA) enabling the ground water level to be lowered sufficiently to allow construction of the new diving pool.

GLL has stated that the licence has not been granted due to a backlog of cases.

A post on the Better facilities website states: “The impact of the delay in granting the abstraction licence means that the swimming pool and diving pool – which has a movable a floor to allow it to also be used as a learner pool – are unlikely to open before 2024.”

In the meantime, work continues on other facilities within the new Rivermead Leisure Complex, which should be ready for an opening this summer.

GLL hopes to open dry facilities which include a new sports hall, fitness centre, studios, soft play centre and café, changing rooms, accessible toilets and a Changing Places facility, as well as new front of house and reception area in July 2023.

The existing building  will then be demolished to construct a new car park and children’s play area.

Meanwhile, swimming facilities through the existing pool on site, in addition to the new community pool at Palmer Park and the pools at Meadway and South Reading Leisure Centres.

Jamie Coleshill, GLL regional director said: “We’d like to apologise to customers and thank them for their patience while unforeseen delays to the project are managed.

“GLL, Pellikaan and Reading Borough Council are all working at pace together to bring forward these state-of-the-art leisure facilities that will be the envy of the Thames Valley.

“With an emphasis on accessibility and affordability, the new leisure complex will support the health and wellbeing of thousands of residents young and old – getting more people, more active more often.

“We know leisure centre users can’t wait to see inside – so keep a look out for updates on our opening weekend and tours.”

GLL took over the running of Reading leisure centres on July 1, 2021.

In a news release by Reading Borough Council that day, it was stated that the aim was to have new facilities, including swimming pools open by Spring this year (which began on Monday, March 20).

Recently, members of the Rivermead Indoor Bowls Club had their last session.

Although the club had a facility in the old Rivermead Leisure Complex, an indoor bowls hall will not be provided in the new centre.

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre