Chelmsford City Council

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New Riverside Leisure Centre on course for 950,000 visits by end of March

Riverside Leisure Centre Exterior

Riverside Leisure Centre is expecting a record number of customers by the end of the financial year, with around 950,000 visits forecast between June 2019 and March 2020. A six-month review of the new centre, which opened in June 2019, has revealed that attendances have been even higher than anticipated. Compared to its previous most successful year in 2016/17, the centre has seen a 29% increase in attendances in the last financial year. Based on these latest figures, more than a million customer visits are expected at the centre in 2020-21. 

The review also found that memberships have grown by 73% at Chelmsford City Council’s flagship leisure centre in just six months: from 2,808 members just before the new complex opened, to 4,862 in December 2019. This expansion in monthly memberships has continued in 2020, with memberships now above 5,000. 

The state-of-the-art centre opened on 10 June 2019 with new pools, gym and exercise studios, along with a refurbished ice rink and sports hall. More space and increased capacity at the new site have allowed many more sessions to be offered, with 170 exercise classes a week, compared to 120 at the old facility. A new café, creche and on-site physiotherapists have also proved popular, allowing customers to spend more time at Riverside than before. 

The centre, which is expected to serve Chelmsford residents for decades to come, will be asking members for their views in the coming weeks. A survey will be sent to all Riverside customers to find out more about how they are using the centre, and a new feedback system will also be introduced in the spring, giving people an opportunity to rate their visit and make positive suggestions for improvement.  

Councillor Jude Deakin, the council’s cabinet member with responsibility for leisure services, says regular engagement with customers is vital: “It’s easy to see the opening of the centre as the end of this story but it’s really just the beginning. Projects of this size bring both challenges and opportunities; we need to keep finding out more about how the whole community is using the centre to ensure that Riverside maintains the momentum it’s gathered in the last few months and keeps inspiring people to stay active.” 

One of the aims of the new centre has been to provide support for those facing barriers to participation in physical activity. A partnership with social enterprise ‘Sport for Confidence’ has been operating since June 2019, increasing from three to five sessions a week in the last six months.  

Megan Potts, who runs the centre’s programme, says the new facilities have helped to attract new people: “Sport for Confidence at Riverside currently sees around 300 clients a month – it’s our fastest growing model to date. The facilities have allowed people with varying conditions and disabilities to access the leisure centre and participate in sports they didn’t imagine they could play. Alongside Riverside staff, we have been able to break down barriers and facilitate a safe, fun and inclusive environment, suitable for anyone.” 

Jon Lyons, Chelmsford City Council’s leisure services manager agrees that it’s been a good first six months for the centre: “We’ve learnt a lot since Riverside opened and I’m really pleased that the number and range of people choosing the new centre has exceeded our expectations. We’ll have a clearer picture after it has been open for a full year, but this initial review shows a very positive start.” 

To find out more about the services offered by Riverside Leisure Centre, go to:

Friday 31 January 2020

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    Last updated: 21 February 2020

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