Pools at West Wickham and Walnuts to be whipped into shape

By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter

Plans to refurbish two Bromley leisure centres in a £29 million scheme have been approved, including upgrades to the swimming pools and new café areas.

Bromley council has agreed to carry out extensive works to improve facilities at West Wickham Leisure Centre and Orpington’s Walnuts Leisure Centre.

The £29.8m project comes in partnership with the borough’s leisure provider, MyTime Active, and includes upgrades to the swimming pools in both centres as well as improved changing rooms and exercise studios for those with mobility issues.

Council officers said in their report that the leisure centres had over 20,000 visits a month and were two of the borough’s most used facilities but added that both centres, which were built in the late 1960s, had reached the end of their natural design life.

Council officers said more than £11m from the scheme would be used for West Wickham Leisure Centre, which is considered to be in a worse condition than the Walnuts centre, with ISG Limited being chosen to complete the works.

The centre is expected to benefit from a new soft play zone and a bigger gym. The pool area is also expected to be rearranged in the scheme, with a new lining system, spectator seating and repairs to the existing concrete walls.

The centre will also benefit from solar panels and pool covers to reduce heat loss, courtesy of a nearly £300,000 grant from Sport England’s Swimming Pool Support Fund. The authority says work on the West Wickham Leisure Centre has begun. The project was designed after several structural issues were found at the centre, requiring it to close in February.

A CGI of the reception and café area planned for the West Wickham Leisure Centre (Picture: Bromley council)

Council documents said the cost of remedial works to the concrete in the centre was approximately £1m. It is expected that the newly refurbished centre will reopen in about 18 months.

The project to refurbish Walnuts Leisure Centre in Orpington will be carried out by Etec Group, with more than £16m expected to be spent on the facilities.

Council documents said the male and female changing rooms in the centre are planned to be replaced by a smaller unisex changing area for space in the building to be used more efficiently.

The pool in the centre is expected to benefit from a redesigned layout including spectator seating, a new boom and updated lining. Council officers said it is intended that the centre would be able to host competitive events following the works. The local swimming club, Orpington Ojays, were also reported to be fundraising to provide new diving blocks, touch sensitive racing pads and a numerical scoreboard.

Replacement sauna and steam facilities are also envisaged in the works. Extra toilets are planned in the rest of the building, with future funding allowing for the possibility of an additional studio space or party room being added. A new consultation room has also been outlined in the gym space to facilitate fitness assessments.

Work on the Walnuts Leisure Centre is reportedly expected to begin early next year. The pool will be closed from summer 2025 to March 2026 for the works to be completed.

Conservative councillor Yvonne Bear, executive councillor for renewal, recreation and housing, said: “We are delivering this substantial investment in the borough’s leisure provision to ensure residents can enjoy enhanced facilities at these sites over the long term, with all the important benefits this brings to health and wellbeing.”

Pictured top: A CGI of the renovated pool planned for the West Wickham Leisure Centre (Picture: Bromley council)


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