Two new leisure centres, one at the Victoria Recreation Ground, New Barnet, and another at Copthall, Mill Hill, which together cost £44.9 million, both opened to the public at the beginning of September.
Barnet Council says the New Barnet leisure centre will help meet pent up demand in and around High Barnet for swimming and sports facilities.
Entry to the centre is via cashless procedures: residents can either sign up for a Fit and Active Barnet card, which offers a range of discounts, or pay as they go by using a credit card.
Mark Sesnan, managing director of Greenwich Leisure Ltd, which operates the council’s leisure centres and swimming pools, told guests at the opening ceremony (9.9.2019) that the only teething problem was one of success.
“Already over 20,000 residents have signed up to our Fit and Active Barnet cards which offer discounts on entry charges and we hope thousands more will enjoy these new facilities.
“Barnet Council was very brave to invest £45 million in two new leisure centres, but the response in New Barnet has been fantastic.
“Since we opened, we have had people queuing out the door and others saying they can’t get into the car park, all waiting to get into the pools.
“GLL has been working with Barnet Council since 2003 and we have been looking forward to opening a centre for New Barnet and for finding a way to meet in the untapped demand for swimming and sports facilities in and around High Barnet, so this is a massive opportunity.”
Water used in the 25-metre swimming pool (kept at 28 degrees) – and a smaller learner pool (kept at 30 degrees) – is treated with filters using ultra-violet light.
Shaun Tolley, general manager at the New Barnet centre, said this advanced form of treatment produced better water quality and used less chemicals.
Another innovation is a wheelchair pod which provides easier access for wheelchair users and avoids the need for a hoist for disabled swimmers.
Other facilities at the centre include a gym, health and fitness suites, outdoor, flood-lit tennis courts, a multi-use games area and café.
Councillor Dan Thomas, leader of the council, told guests that nothing gave councillors greater pleasure than seeing the two centres open for use.
“Already over 20,000 residents have signed up to our Fit and Active Barnet cards which offer discounts on entry charges and we hope thousands more will enjoy these new facilities.”
Nathan Swift, of architects Saunders Boston, said the challenge of designing the new leisure was to ensure they took account of its position in the middle of the Victoria Recreation Ground.
“We hope people in the keep-fit suites will enjoy the view of the park. The ground floor café leads from the park into the leisure centre itself, creating a community hub for New Barnet which will incorporate an on-site library (opening on September 24).
“Residents have the chance to stay fit and healthy while enjoying the setting of the park and having the use of a new community hub.”
Councillor Caroline Stock, Mayor of Barnet, said she was delighted to have been asked to conduct the opening ceremony.
“In the nine days the New Barnet leisure centre has been open, so many local people have told us how delighted they are and how they have started swimming again.
“Keeping fit does transform people’s live and it is all the more enjoyable to do so in a bright and welcoming environment.”
Typical cost of entry for senior citizens and families:
- So far Barnet Council has issued over 20,000 Fit and Active Barnet cards, which are free to residents and offer a range of discounts.
- A senior citizen paying £26.95 a month gets unlimited off-peak access (between 9am and 5pm) to the swimming pool, classes, gym and other facilities.
- A senior citizen with a FAB card would pay £2.90 to use the swimming pool off peak or £4.55 to use the gym off peak.
- The cost for parents with FAB cards is £4.75 each for the swimming pool; £1 each for children aged 5 to 16; and children under 5 go free.