Date posted 01 Jul 2021

A SIGNIFICANT next step in the transformation of Reading’s leisure offer took place today (1st July 2021) with the operational transfer to leisure providers, GLL.

Following the signing of the partnership contract, GLL will now operate three leisure centres on the Council’s behalf: Meadway Leisure Centre, South Reading Leisure Centre and Palmer Park Leisure Centre and Stadium. GLL has already partnered the Council in the delivery of Rivermead Leisure Complex for the past 15 years.

GLL will introduce membership and customer schemes, allowing access to every single Council sports facility across the borough, with a free ‘Reading Resident’s Card’ giving up to 30% discount from activity charges and up to 50% discount for concessions.

There will also be a drive to improve health and wellbeing across Reading, aiming for a 40% increase in participation levels, with targeted activities to help reduce health inequalities, including discounts for young, older and disabled people; weight management courses, cardiac and cancer rehabilitation, falls prevention interventions and dementia friendly training for staff.

Today’s announcement is the next step in the Council’s commitment to delivering modern new leisure facilities for Reading – including a new leisure centre and two brand new swimming pools. Construction is due to begin on both sites this summer with the aim of delivering the new facilities by early 2023.

The new Rivermead facilities will still include:

  • 25m 8 lane competition pool, with moveable pool floor
  • Splash pad for younger users
  • Diving pool with moveable pool floor
  • 25m 5 lane club/swim lesson pool (demountable pool)

At Palmer Park, in addition to the refurbishment of the existing stadium building, there will be:

  • A modern new 25 metre, 6-lane community pool
  • A 100-station gym with three studios
  • An activity zone for children with party rooms,
  • And a new café and information hub.
  • There will also be improvements at South Reading and Meadway leisure centres.

Details of the new leisure service offer can be found at  

Cllr Graeme Hoskin, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Councillor for Sport, said: “It is great news our new leisure partner, GLL, will take over the reins in operating Reading’s leisure centres from today. This is a significant next step for us is delivering our ambitious plan for leisure.

“Despite the challenges presented by the ongoing pandemic, both the Council and our partners, remain fully committed to delivering the new leisure facilities. Our new leisure offer will provide a good balance for Reading’s communities and for families at a time when it is more important than ever we inspire the communities we serve to lead healthier, more active lives and by offering targeted activities to help reduce health inequalities we know exist in Reading.

“We’ve partnered with GLL for a number of years now at Rivermead and this relationship will now move on to a new level of investment and performance. We’ll be working closely with GLL to bring first-class facilities and service to Reading, including building modern new swimming pools at both Palmer Park and at Rivermead.

“By early 2023, Reading will boast a 25m 8-lane competition pool with dedicated diving provision and a brand new 25m 6-lane community pool at Palmer Park, linked to existing sports facilities – combine the benefits of a sizable pool, velodrome and athletics stadium all in one accessible location – delivering a fairly unique facility in the region and putting Reading firmly on the map as a top sports destination. We have chosen an option which achieves a good balance for Reading, for the community and for families.

“As well as the improved facilities across all leisure sites being delivered over the next two years, the change this week will enable the introduction of membership and customer schemes allowing access to all Council facilities, which is an option often requested by residents. There will also be a drive to increase activity, health and wellbeing across the borough, with weight management courses, cardiac and cancer rehabilitation and targeted work in the community to reach those in most need and work towards reducing health inequalities.”

Paul Shearman, GLL’s Partnership Manager for Reading added: “It’s a huge privilege to take on the management of three additional leisure centres within Reading and to be part of the regeneration of leisure provision within the town. 

“The new and improved facilities will really enhance Reading’s sports and leisure offering and this will undoubtedly lead to an increase in participation and so better health and wellbeing for local residents. 

“We look forward to being part of this hugely positive and transformational project for the benefit of all.”