Up and running: £7m scheme to transform Keynsham Leisure Centre revealed

July 08 2016
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The outcry at the prospect of losing valued facilities at Keynsham Leisure Centre appears to have been heeded with the unveiling of a £7 million redevelopment scheme for the site.

The outcry at the prospect of losing valued facilities at Keynsham Leisure Centre appears to have been heeded with the unveiling of a £7 million redevelopment scheme for the site.

Leisure centre users were dismayed when initial plans revealed last year didn’t include a sports hall or poolside spectator seating.

Both of these facilities, however, are included in new proposals drawn up to transform the Riverside premises and shown to residents at a series of public feedback sessions over the last few weeks.

Taking into account comments made during last year’s consultation, Bath and North East Somerset Council has produced two options for the site, both of which feature an improved sports hall, refurbished main pool which retains the viewing gallery, improved fitness suite, new soft play, teaching pool, studio spaces, changing spaces and the retention of the existing squash courts.

The main difference between the two is an extension that would provide a learner pool in Option 1 or a double-height learner pool with fitness suite above in option 2.

The council is aiming to submit a planning application next month and to begin work next spring in phases, to allow existing facilities to remain open, completing construction in 2018. The leisure centre is operated by charitable social enterprise GLL under the brand Better.

Leader of the council Councillor Tim Warren, who pledged last year to retain the sports hall, said: “I’m very pleased to honour our commitment to deliver an improved sports hall with badminton courts as part of our plans for the new leisure centre – something which the Keynsham community has told us they want to see in their new leisure centre.

“While some other councils are having to close their leisure centres, our plans will provide Keynsham Leisure Centre with a sustainable future to ensure that residents can continue to benefit from public leisure services for years to come.

“As well as greatly improving the look and feel of the inside of the leisure centre, the planned improvements are also a great opportunity to revitalise the Riverside and Temple Street area of Keynsham.”

One frequent user of the pool, Andrew Workman, said he was delighted at the refurbishment plans – but that he and other regular visitors were concerned that existing showering facilities could be replaced with poolside showers.

Many people relied on being able to shower properly before heading straight off to work or elsewhere from the leisure centre, he said.

“The plans for the new leisure centre are fabulous, but a number of regular users are concerned about changes to the changing facilities. Poolside showers don’t afford the privacy that many people would like and the existing changing rooms also allow people to chat, which wouldn’t happen on the poolside.

“I don’t want to be militant about it and we are thrilled at the plans but I have written to councillors to suggest that this facility shouldn’t be changed if it doesn’t need to be.”

Riverside and Temple Street

Residents were also asked for their views on the future of the Riverside building, formerly home to B&NES Council offices.

In one option under consideration, the upper floors above the shops on Temple Street could be turned into student accommodation, while another proposes flats, both raising the level of parts of the building by one or two floors and cladding the outside in new materials.

A covered market hall on the site of Keynsham’s former fire station was also put to residents who attended the feedback events.