Plans to create the south's premier children's play facilities have been announced as part of a £2.5million redevelopment of Portsmouth's Pyramids Centre.
Liberal Democrat councillors at Portsmouth City Council have agreed initial plans set to make the site one of the biggest and best attractions in the region, as a fantastic new 'Play & Bounce' facility as well a big expansion and upgrade to the gym.
The new facilities are expected to open during Spring 2021. Work is planned to start over the coming months and will be carried out in phases to minimise impact. The centre’s gym, exercise studio and Glasshouse event space will remain open throughout. BH Live will liaise closely with event organisers and customers to relocate any activities that are affected.
The investment will result in a giant SuperPlay style attraction - featuring a new soft play and trampoline park, to encourage more children to be active while having fun. A gym expansion and new bespoke exercise studios will enable BH Live to broaden its physical activity programme to include classes such as spinning, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and health related exercise courses. This will enable many more residents to improve their health and wellbeing through physical activity. Furthermore new changing facilities and hospitality areas will complement the transformation.
The new facilities will replace the current leisure pool and the Plaza events space. The declining popularity of leisure pools has affected the Pyramids Centre with customer numbers falling considerably over a number of years. Over the past 24 months alone there has been a 40% decline in swimming numbers. This means the centre is operating at a £650,000 loss to the council every year, which is not financially viable long term.
Chris Symons, Chief Executive from BH Live, the social enterprise which runs the Pyramids Centre for the council, said: "Pyramids is a much loved venue however the facilities are tired and in need of a complete transformation in order to keep bringing people through the doors. These proposed plans would give our community a brand new attraction that is appealing, sustainable, and more importantly, great fun and accessible to all."
Liberal Democrat councillor Steve Pitt, the council's Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Economic Development, said: "The pandemic has made it more important than ever to invest in sport and leisure and get more people active. We are convinced that BH Live's exciting new plans will see more residents and visitors of all ages use the Pyramids Centre to get active and have fun, helping to secure the future of our iconic seafront venue."
The council has confirmed £350,000 funding will be committed to improve swimming facilities in the south east of the city. Work is underway to establish whether this is best used to maintain Eastney Swimming Pool or develop new swimming facilities in the same area of the city.
Cllr Steve Pitt added, "We're committed to providing fantastic sport and leisure facilities across the city for all residents to access for generations to come, this is at the heart of all decisions and we'll keep everyone informed as any plans develop."