Centre facelift to boost town’s economy

The chief executive of Leisure East Devon (LED), Peter Gilpin, says that a multi-million-pound ‘child friendly’ upgrade of Exmouth Leisure Centre would boost the town’s economy.

Mr Gilpin has proposed a make-over worth between �6 and �8 million, which would create jobs and cater for a growing population.

LED contributes more than �1.5m every year into Exmouth’s economy and employs around 110 people over three sites; the leisure centre, the tennis centre and at The Pavilion.

He said the upgrade of the leisure centre ‘was the best option’ and would provide a suitable facility for the next 15 to 20 years.

He said: “While a new leisure centre might be high on everybody’s wish list, the reality of this, as an option, is limited…

“The cost of a new build on an alternative site is likely to be in excess of �12 - �15m and unaffordable for the foreseeable future.

“It would also entail a closure that could be for a period of two years or more, creating a considerable leisure and employment vacuum.”

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The plans call for up to three fitness studios – one dedicated to ‘spinning’ on stationary exercise bikes - a toning studio, a children’s soft play area and a new caf� overlooking The Exe.

It could also include a retail unit - possibly incorporating Edge Watersports - a cycle equipment and hire shop.

Concept drawings show that the two existing squash courts would be retained and both the swimming pool and the learner pool would be upgraded, possibly with a viewing gallery.

A new ‘mixed changing village’, including family and disabled changing, are also part of the plans.

Mr Gilpin said: “Introducing village-type changing rooms (will) make use of limited space and cater for sole parents with children of the opposite sex.

“By providing separate sex showers and toilets as well as disabled provision, they provide a suitable compromise that befits the expected mix of customers.”

The current cramped first-floor gym would be expanded to cover most of the first floor, creating a huge health and fitness club.

A new ‘day spa’ is also included in the plans – this could have hydro spa pools, rasuls and ice fountains, as well as a traditional sauna and steam room.

New treatment rooms would provide services like sports massage and a range of beauty treatments.

The current sports hall would be redeveloped for children’s play, fitness and changing areas, with indoor sports, such as badminton, basketball and five-a-side football, moving to the community college and the Withycombe Tennis Centre.

Two courts at the centre are already in the process of being adapted.

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