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).