Work begins on North Devon’s new leisure centre

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Work begins on North Devon’s new leisure centre

A new leisure centre in Barnstaple moves one step closer this September as contractors begin work on site this week.

Tarka Leisure Centre, which has been designed by Watson Batty Architects, will replace the outdated North Devon Leisure Centre on the Seven Brethen industrial estate, which has been deemed not fit for purpose.

The £15 million investment is being funded by North Devon Council, Sport England and the Coastal Communities fund, and will provide residents and visitors with unique, state-of-the-art facilities, becoming an attraction in itself for Barnstaple.

This includes an ‘endless ski slope’ – the first of its kind in Devon – which aims to attract skiers, snowboarders and tobogganers, alongside a 25 metre, 8-lane swimming pool and 20 metre training pool, both with moveable floors that reach to a depth of 1.8 metres.

Both swimming pools will create varied opportunities for teaching, training and leisure activities, including specialist activities such as lifeguard training and water polo.

Parkwood Leisure appointed Speller Metcalfe to the scheme in February.

Glen Hall, managing director of Parkwood Leisure, said: “Tarka Leisure Centre is a project that we’re really excited about; we know the local area is in need of improved leisure provision and the new facility will provide a hub for the local community to enjoy for many years to come.

“We’ve worked with Speller Metcalfe on a number of sites and have a longstanding relationship with North Devon Council, and we can’t wait to see our collective plans come together to deliver something truly unique for the region.”

Alongside the swimming pools and ski slope, facilities will include a four-court sports hall, indoor soft play, fitness studios, gym, café and reception area, alongside ample car parking for visitors.

Chairman of North Devon Council, Councillor Frank Biederman, said: “One of the council’s key aims is to get more people, of all ages involved in physical activity to improve and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The new centre has been designed after consultation with existing users and this is reflected in the facility mix. We have movable floors in both pools to cater for the extra depth our surf life-saving clubs and water polo players require and has two additional lanes in the main pool to accommodate more casual swimmers.

“We have also improved facilities for disabled users, with state of the art “pool pods” which allow a more dignified form of entry into the pools for those with mobility difficulties.”

Sport England has provided £1.75m of National Lottery funding towards the project and £1.5m has been granted by the Coastal Communities Fund. Contributions from local housing developments have also been put towards the build costs.

Rob Lashford, regional director at Speller Metcalfe, said: “It is extremely important to us that this scheme benefits the local community, not only as an exciting new leisure centre, but by providing employment opportunities to local businesses throughout its construction – something we know is more important than ever after the challenging few months businesses up and down the country have faced.”

The scheme is due to complete in spring 2022 and you can follow the progress of the new leisure centre project by signing up to the council’s blog:

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