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Date posted 14 Sep 2021

Reading's major leisure project has taken a significant step forward, with construction work beginning at Palmer Park.

This is key milestone in the Council’s £40M investment in modern leisure facilities for the town, including delivering two brand new pools, a modern leisure centre and improvements to existing leisure facilities, by spring 2023.

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.

From 2 August, phase 1 of the Palmer Park construction got underway and complete by the end of September. The initial focus will be on creating the new overflow carpark / coach drop off, then moving on to removing the single-story front entrance.

During the first phase, the area of work will be surrounded by Heras fencing for the safety of the public. The contractors working on the construction will aim to keep disruption to stadium, sports, clubs and park users to a minimum. There will be regular updates provided on any impact to the existing car parking at the stadium during the construction.

In phase 2, major work will begin on the construction of the new swimming pool, changes to the existing entrance and the creation of the new café and information hub space.

The new community pool and facilities will open to the public in late 2022.

Work is anticipated to start at the Rivermead site on 30 August after the Reading Festival.

The new Rivermead facilities will 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)
  • A café, information hub, and soft play

There will also be improvements at South Reading and Meadway leisure centres starting later this year.

For further information on the leisure project visit www.reading.gov.uk/newleisure or follow the Council on social media @ReadingCouncil Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Cllr Graeme Hoskin, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Councillor for Sport, said“I’m really excited we are imminently beginning the building of our new pools and leisure centre. It is great news that construction will start in earnest from 2 August at Palmer Park, with Rivermead following soon after at the end of August. This will provide residents with tangible evidence of our commitment to delivering the new facilities.

“This is the start of the first phase of construction at Palmer Park and we will keep everyone updated regularly on progress with a view to keeping any disruption to park, stadium and gym users to a minimum.

“Despite the unprecedented challenges of the past year, the Council and our leisure partners, GLL, remain fully committed to delivering the modern leisure facilities a town of our size and status deserves.

“By spring 2023, Reading will boast a 25m 8-lane competition pool with dedicated diving provision at Rivermead and a brand new 25m 6-lane community pool at Palmer Park, linked to existing sports facilities – combining 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 that achieves a good balance for Reading, for the community and for families.

"As a Council, taking action on the climate emergency is a top priority for us. The new centres will be constructed to BREEAM Excellent environmental standards and with renewables wherever possible.  Measures to reduce carbon emissions and improve environmental efficiency will hopefully make Reading’s leisure facilities some of the most environmentally friendly in the UK.

“As well as the improved facilities across all leisure sites being delivered over the next two years, 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 said: “This is an exciting first step on the road to delivering state-of-the-art leisure facilities to the people of Reading. 

“The benefits that these new and updated facilities will offer the local community are huge.  The pandemic has highlighted the importance of keeping physically active and maintaining a healthy weight. 

“Reading’s new and upgraded leisure provision will offer an inviting and welcoming environment, for all local residents to enjoy, in addition to enabling us to provide dedicated courses and activities that encourage better health and wellbeing.”

Gert-Jan Peeters, director of Pellikaan UK, said: “We look forward to working with Reading Council and GLL on both the Palmer Park and the Rivermead centres. It will be great to see the new facilities take shape and with our vast experience in the construction of leisure centres, we know that we will be providing some great facilities that will inspire the people of Reading to be active.”