Work begins on new leisure centre for North Devon

Construction of the new state-of-the-art Tarka Leisure Centre in Barnstaple has moved one step closer this month, as contractors begin work on site.

Parkwood Leisure has been appointed as the official contractor for the £15 million leisure centre, which will be built on the site adjacent to Tarka Tennis Centre in Barnstaple. The project is being funded by North Devon Council, Sport England and the Coastal Communities Fund.

The centre will be constructed by Speller Metcalfe, with an expected completion date of Spring 2022 and will feature:

  • 25m eight-lane competition swimming pool with movable floor
  • 20m four-lane learner pool with movable floor
  • sports hall with four badminton courts
  • large gym
  • two multi-purpose exercise studios
  • spinning studio with virtual experience
  • Devon’s first endless ski slope for indoor skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing
  • indoor soft play
  • outdoor play area
  • new reception area and cafe

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor David Worden says: “This significant investment will create outstanding new facilities for the town and surrounding communities and there is a real sense of anticipation as we mark the start of this work.

The current leisure centre is now at the end of its commercial life and in need of replacement. The landmark new centre will be a focal point not just for local residents but for visitors from further afield and will add to the area’s tourism offer. I’d also like to reassure people that Tarka Tennis Centre, Falcons Gymnastics Academy and North Devon Leisure Centre will all remain open throughout the build.”

Chairman of the Council, Councillor Frank Biederman, says: 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.”

Glen Hall, Managing Director of Parkwood Leisure says: “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 have a long-standing 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.”

Rob Lashford, regional director for Speller Metcalfe, says: “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.”

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.

Follow the progress of the new leisure centre project by signing up to the council’s blog www.newleisurecentre.wordpress.com. or look out for updates on Facebook (@northdevoncouncil) or Twitter (@ndevoncouncil).

Fans of Exmoor encouraged to share their love on ‘Exmoor Day’

Monday 19 October is #ExmoorDay – a chance to celebrate all that Exmoor National Park offers to the nation and the world. Exmoor National Park boasts inspiring landscapes, thriving communities, incredible wildlife, enterprising businesses, and a rich cultural heritage stemming back centuries.

Exmoor National Park came into being on 19 October 1954 when the Designation Order made by the National Parks Commission was confirmed by the Minister for Housing and Local Government – Harold Macmillan – making it the UK’s 8th National Park.

Home to just under 10,000 residents, the National Park attracts in excess of 2 million visitor days a year and is home to well over 1,000 local businesses. Ancient woodlands and heather-clad moorlands provide important habitats for all kinds of creatures, including iconic free-living Exmoor ponies and the largest population of Red deer in England, alongside rare butterflies, bats, wildflowers, fungi and lichen. At night Exmoor comes alive under some of the darkest skies in the country offering unrivalled opportunities to see thousands of stars above.

Exmoor Day has come about as part of a co-ordinated tourism recovery plan put together by partners to help counter the impacts of Covid-19. This year it will primarily be a virtual event on social media, with people sharing what they love about Exmoor and promoting their Exmoor-based products. On the day you can follow the #ExmoorDay hashtag to join in and local communities, businesses and fans are all invited to take part by celebrating Exmoor in their own style.

Fans of Exmoor near and far are also being invited to send in short films of themselves saying why they love Exmoor as part of a film that will be shared online and through social media on the day. For a chance to be part of it, take a short video (in landscape orientation) of you briefly stating why you love Exmoor / what you most love about Exmoor (ideally no more than 5-10 seconds) on a smartphone and send your video recording via WeTransfer to Katrina at KJMunro@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk, by 12 October at the latest.

Dan James, Sustainable Economy Manager, said: “The last six months have really demonstrated what a special place Exmoor is, with thousands flocking to the area for the wonderful sense of wellbeing and freedom that comes with spending time outdoors in our beautiful National Parks.

“At the same time the economic impact has been hard felt on Exmoor, with tourism and hospitality accounting for two thirds of employment. Local communities have pulled together and demonstrated the great spirit of Exmoor, and Exmoor Day offers us a chance to continue that recovery process. Whether you are a visitor sharing your favourite Exmoor experience, a business promoting your links to Exmoor or a community celebrating the place you live, we’d really love you to join us in sharing all that is good about Exmoor.”

For further details about the film, planned virtual activities and opportunities to get involved visit www.exmoor-nationalpark.co.uk/exmoor-day or contact Katrina Munro, Economy Project Officer KJMunro@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk.

PHOTO: By John Spurr from the winter issue of Exmoor Magazine, due out in November.

 

‘A balm for the soul’: Two Moors Festival brings live classical music to Wiveliscombe

Exmoor Weekend: 2-4 October – St Andrew’s Church, Wiveliscombe (and Dartmoor Weekend: 26-27 September – St Pancras’ Church, Widecombe-in-the-Moor)

The region’s unique Two Moors Festival will return this autumn, with world-class classical music concerts held in line with current government guidelines.  It will be the first time many of the internationally recognised artists involved have returned to the stage since lockdown.

The classical music events will take place with limited, socially distanced audiences across two weekends: 26-27 September on Dartmoor and 2-4 October on Exmoor, in beautiful church venues in Widecombe and Wiveliscombe.  All concerts will be one hour in length with no interval.

The artists involved have thoughtfully created programmes that are joyful, uplifting and a balm for the soul after lockdown.

Tamsin Waley-Cohen, Artistic Director of The Two Moors Festival, said: “I am delighted to be unveiling our programme for the 2020 Festival, my first as Artistic Director.  I was one of the Young Musician Competition winners in the very first Festival 20 years ago and have had the pleasure of returning often since then, seeing it grow and flourish.  This year, we will of course have all relevant measures in place to make it safe and enjoyable for all, in line with government guidance. The Two Moors Festival was born out of the foot and mouth crisis and, on our 20th Anniversary, as we find ourselves weathering another crisis, we offer a festival of celebration, bringing the shared, joyful experience of live music back to the Moors, and lifting people’s spirits.”

Over the past two decades, the Two Moors Festival has evolved into one of the most distinctive classical music festivals in the world.

Included in the Festival’s lineup of musical talent this year are performances from brilliant and insightful rising star pianist, Elisabeth Brauss (pictured); jazz star and a BBC New Generation Artist, Misha Mullov-Abbado; and internationally renowned tenor, Nicky Spence, with the great lieder pianist, Chris Glynn.

Ticket booking is now open.

For information on  ticket sales and event safety, please visit www.twomoorsfestival.co.uk