Frequently asked questions - Public questions on the leisure centres

Are all current facilities at both centres being reprovided and will I see any improvements?

Yes. The key aim of the refurbishments is to ensure that the two leisure centres remain fit for purpose for many years to come, with major works being undertaken to the infrastructure to effect this. Neither facility will lose any services. The only change to provision, will be at the Walnuts where the main pool will be separated to create a larger learner pool and a 25m competition length pool. In addition, the council, together with the operator Mytime Active, are pleased to confirm there will be some new services introduced. Both centres will have new studios providing power assisted equipment to support those with mobility issues or those seeking rehabilitation. West Wickham will also have a new café and small soft play. In addition, both centres will have their main pools fully refurbished and new changing places toilets and pool pods will be installed to support accessibility.

Will the boilers be replaced, resolving long standing heating problems particularly at the Walnuts?

Yes. Both facilities will receive upgrades to their plant rooms, including new boiler/heating systems. This work is a significant expense at both centres and is important to ensure the long-term running of the services.

How is the funding proportioned out over the 2 centres? Has any funding been diverted from the Walnuts to West Wickham due to the new issues discovered at West Wickham?

There has been no diversion of funds from the Walnuts to West Wickham as a result of these new issues. New costs associated with the additional issues at West Wickham discovered during the survey work are being covered by a budget increase that has been agreed at Executive. Similarly, any further costs identified at one site during the works would not affect the budget at the other centre. It has always been envisaged that the cost of delivering infrastructure works at West Wickham would be higher than at the Walnuts. West Wickham is a standalone centre, and therefore requires more work to the fabric of the building, including replacement of the roof. The proportional split of spend on the 2 sites is 60 per cent on West Wickham and 40 per cent on Walnuts.

Why has the schedule of works changed?

It was initially intended to complete the pool at the Walnuts first later this year, then move on to West Wickham leisure centre. However, due to issues found during survey works at West Wickham which has meant the centres has needed to close it has now been decided to reverse the order to avoid intermediate repair costs required to reopen the centre. West Wickham will therefore not reopen but instead works on the redevelopment will commence straight away and are expected to take around 18 months to complete, with the whole centre closed during this period due to the extensive nature of the works. The West Wickham Leisure Centre is scheduled to reopen in early 2026.

The works at the Walnuts leisure centre are planned to begin in 2025 and will take place in two phases to avoid the entirety of the centre being closed at the same time. This will minimise the amount of time both pools are closed to around 25 weeks. Works will start in Spring next year on the dry side facilities with the pool remaining open for use during which time residents will need to arrive ready to swim. In late summer 2025 the pool will close and reopen again by March 2026.

How is accessibility in the centres being improved?

Both centres will have full Changing Places facilities installed alongside pool pod access to the pools. At West Wickham, a new lift will be installed, granting access to the first floor for those that cannot use the stairs.

Where can I swim when the centres are closed?

Bromley is proud to have many pool facilities in comparison to many other boroughs, including the Pavilion Leisure Centre, Darrick Wood Pool, Biggin Hill Pool and The Spa Beckenham, all of which are accessible to all Mytime members and casual users. The council are working with Mytime Active to extend services at other centres or community locations where possible. Residents are thanked for their cooperation during this time, with the short-term interruption in service being necessary to deliver the long-term benefit to pools and facilities.

Why are some facilities in the leisure centres not having any works carried out to them?

Unfortunately, funding constraints coupled with inflation have meant that not everything hoped for has been able to be included in the plans. Priority had to be given to the structural and service works to ensure the buildings were fit for purpose for the future. The council recognises that the public may be disappointed that some facilities, like the soft play at the Walnuts, are not planned to be refurbished at this time, but instead will remain as they are today. However, the council will actively work with the operator, Mytime Active, to seek out other funding sources both during and after this project. If more funding can be identified, further enhancements will be explored.

Why will the new pool at the Walnuts be smaller than at West Wickham?

Feedback from residents and swimming clubs indicated a strong desire for Bromley to have a competition length pool, which is now required to be 25m. For spatial reasons, as well as user feedback, it was more pragmatic to provide this at the Walnuts. The West Wickham pool is deeper which allows for other activities, such as springboard diving and snorkelling. While West Wickham pool will lose some depth, it will retain the 33m pool and still be able to accommodate diving.

What will be the new changing room arrangements?

In line with many modern leisure centres, both facilities will move to a unisex ‘changing village’ model. These are changing areas with all private cubicles, replacing current open single sex changing spaces. This provides much more privacy and allows families to change together.

Will the showers and lockers be replaced? Will there be enough?

Yes. We have worked with specialist leisure consultants to ensure that locker and shower calculations accommodate for both current and future demand.

Why have the layouts been planned in the way they have?

This is a once in a generation opportunity to refurbish these leisure centres, and so the council appointed Alliance Leisure Services, leading experts in the leisure centre industry, to get the very best service and value for residents. Residents should rest assured that the spatial planning, design and layouts have been carefully planned with leisure specialist architects and the local operator to ensure the best result is delivered.

There is reference to a “mothballed area” at the Walnuts; how large is this and are there any future plans for use of this space?

A small area at the Walnuts Leisure Centre has been kept aside to allow for further development at a later date, which represents 3 per cent of the total public floor space at the centre. The council is actively working with Mytime Active to seek further funding that could support future works beyond the scope of this project, which could include bringing this area into use.

Grant funding has already been secured at West Wickham of nearly £300k for solar panels and pool covers to reduce carbon emissions, with further opportunities being proactively sought where possible.

What consultation has taken place with users of the leisure centres and how has the feedback been taken into account?

There has been extensive consultation about the refurbishment seeking user and residents’ views about their priorities for the future. The consultation took the form of questionnaires, interviews and workshop and over 6,000 responses were received. The key themes from this feedback were that the centres should both be brought up to modern standards and not suffer from unplanned closures due to problems with the building or equipment, that all current facilities should be retained and improved where possible and that accessibility should be improved so the facilities can be enjoyed by all. All these core requirements have been addressed by the current plans.

How will activities in the leaner pool and main pool be able to coexist in the same room at the Walnuts Leisure Centre?

There are benefits to having the two pools in the same room, which allows parents with children of different age groups to watch them all at the same time. This is in line with feedback received from residents and the preference of Mytime, Bromley’s leisure operator who have confirmed that the new layout will not affect current activities with some minor programming changes.

Why is West Wickham Leisure Centre getting solar panels but not the Walnuts?

The solar panels at West Wickham Leisure Centre will be funded by a grant from Sport England. Unfortunately, the grant request for the Walnuts was not successful but further funding opportunities will be sought where available for future improvements at both centres.

Will the new boiler at the Walnuts leisure centre also heat the wider Walnuts site, such as the Saxon Day Centre?

No, a separate heating system is being progressed for the remainder of the Walnuts site, with further updates to come on this in due course. This means the leisure centre will have its own standalone heating system following the works.

Are there issues of RAAC concrete at West Wickham Leisure Centre?

No. Investigative surveys did identify issues with concrete erosion which meant the centre has needed to close, but this was not related to RAAC, which has already been investigated. These issues will be resolved through the works.

Will membership price increase after the refurbishment works have been completed?

While Mytime Active have not yet determined their pricing strategy for 2026, there is not expected to be a significant price increase. Membership prices are set with consideration of all its centres and will continue to remain competitive across the borough. Mytime Active are a social enterprise and so will continue to reinvest all revenues, including membership fees, back into local services and facilities.