Councillors in Reading have agreed deals totalling more than £1.2 million so that its leisure centres continue to operate and new ones are built.

Reading Borough Council’s policy committee agreed on Monday, August 24, both to support its operator GLL with £410,000 to cover its costs during lockdown and to spend £816,000 on a planning costs agreement (PCA) with GLL to try to ensure the proposed new leisure centre to replace the current Rivermead centre and a new swimming pool at Palmer Park go ahead.

The Palmer Park and Rivermead developments, totalling around £33m, are due for completion in September 2022 and January 2023, respectively and the council hopes to stick as closely as possible to those timescales in spite of Covid delays. Planning applications are due to be submitted in November 2020

Once the £410,000 bail out was agreed councillors discussed the spending on the PCA. The meeting heard it would protect the council if GLL went bust or did not sign a design, build, operate and maintain contract for the new schemes.

Cllr Graeme Hoskin, lead councillor for health, wellbeing and sport, said: “This is a sensible proposal in order to be able to progress our plans for the new leisure centre at Rivermead and the new swimming pool in Reading east in Palmer Park, whilst also protecting the council’s interests and maintaining the flexibility due to the uncertain times and challenges the leisure sector faces.”

He said officers had assured him the outline planning application would allow for changes which could be necessary to the design post-Covid.

Image shows the proposed new Rivermead.

© Thames Tap No 223 (powered by

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