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16 play areas, Northbrook pool and golf course could close

Councillors will discuss the plans next week

Plans revealed as part of a strategy outlining the future of leisure facilities in Exeter also detail that a new community health and wellbeing centre will replace the existing Wonford sports and community centres.

But Northbrook swimming pool, as well as the Northbrook Approach Golf Course, will both close, and 16 play areas in the city will also close.

Exeter City Council’s executive committee, when they meet next Tuesday, are recommended to approve the draft strategy for public consultation, with a final report to be presented to Council in July 2019.


The Exeter Arena and the Isca Centre will be redeveloped into a new community sports village. It could include:

  • A community leisure centre with sprung sports hall and exercise studioes
  • Martial arts and boxing facilities
  • A gymnastic centre which will be a potential new home for Exeter Gymnastics Club
  • A state-of-the-art virtual ski centre which includes a ski simulator and a training centre and could be a potential new home for the Exeter Ski Club if they leave Clifton Hill
  • An off road cycling track
  • A 25m swimming pool as a replacement for the Northbrook Pool, which would close under the proposals
  • Beach volleyball court
  • Commercial Leisure – possible options to include soft play, Junior Tag/Tag Active and tenpin bowling facility


The existing Wonford sports and community centres are set to close and be replaced with a new integrated community health and wellbeing centre. It could include:

  • A community leisure centre with sprung sports hall and group exercise studios and outdoor facilities.
  • A four court sports hall as part of the facility
  • Potential for squash court provision to replace those lost at Clifton Hill Sports Centre.
  • Primary care centre in partnership with the local NHS.
  • Flexible community spaces
  • Potentially it could be part of a housing-led mixed use estates based development.



The new St Sidwell’s Point Leisure Complex will be a replacement for Pyramids Swimming and Leisure Centre. Construction work has now commenced and opening is planned for December 2020, and once open, the Pyramids would close. St Sidwell’s Point includes:

  • eight-lane Main Pool (25m)
  • four-lane Learner Pool
  • Multi-purpose Room/Crèche
  • Gym (150 stations)
  • Spin Studio
  • 2 x Group Exercise Studios
  • Spa – Sauna, saunarium, salt vaporium, relaxation room, manicure/pedicure station and 4 x treatment rooms
  • Small soft play area
  • Cafe



The council will ensure that the community swimming pool and leisure facility will be maintained to provide access to sports facilities on the south of the river.

Refurbishment work and conversion of the café, soft play and reception areas to create a new membership sales office, a yoga/ quiet workout space, a virtual technology spin studio, a virtual technology workout studio and extension of the gym area to include installation of a functional fitness rig has already been carried out at the Riverside.

£5.6m of cash to allow for the full replacement of the flat roof and rebuild of the floor structure surrounding the pool at the Riverside following the February 2017 fire is recommended to be spent by the council



The existing Northbrook swimming pool would close as part of the plan. Replacement pool facilities will be provided at the Exeter Arena Community Sports Village, as would Boxing Club facilities


The strategy would see the existing Northbrook Approach Golf Course on Topsham Road close and then sold off. The report says that the site has ‘limited value for wider strategic aims’ given the usage numbers and income and has the potential to generate a very positive capital receipt for the Council, given its location, that could be invested in council priorities including in other leisure sites.



Exeter City Council currently maintains 83 equipped play areas, including other play related facilities such as water play, Multi-Use Games Areas (MUGAs), basketball hoops, kickabout goals and skate parks.

But the report to the executive says that the growth in Play Areas across the city has largely been development-led as opposed to needs led resulting in an uneven distribution and increased and unstainable repair and maintenance costs to the Council.

The council therefore is proposing to close 16 play areas within the city. Eight other play area would be upgraded, while three new ‘destination play parks would be created.

Destination play parks would provide for families with children of all age groups, encouraging family based visits, and be facility that will be more diverse in its provision of enjoyment and physical challenges.

Play areas to close over the next five years are:

  • Alphington Playing Field Play Area
  • Greenway Play Area
  • King George V Playing Field Play Area
  • Lloyd’s Crescent Play Area
  • Tappers Close Play Area
  • Addison Close Play Area
  • Burrator Drive Play Area
  • Gloucester Road Play Area
  • Knights Crescent Play Area
  • Monkerton Play Area
  • Mulberry Close Play Area
  • Fleming Way Play Area
  • Lancelot Road Play Area
  • Haccombe Close Play Area
  • Gras Lawn Play Area
  • Hylton Gardens Play Area

The three destination play parks would be located at Arena Park, Wonford Playing Field and a yet to be determined location in the Exwick/Cowick area.

The report of Jo Yelland, council director, says: “With the exception of the planned new build St Sidwell’s Point Leisure Complex, there is aging and poor quality built estate which needs a strategic approach to determine areas for future investment that will best meet the needs of residents in the context of the overall resources available to the Council.

“The draft strategy for consultation proposes a consolidation and future investment plan that would see a step change in the range and quality of provision across the city. The proposals aim to intensify resources into localities of greatest need with the aim of achieving population level change that directly tackles entrenched inequalities. Successful implementation of the strategy would contribute to reducing inequality and promoting inclusion.”

Exeter City Council’s Executive committee, when they meet on Tuesday, February 12, are recommended to approve the draft strategy for public consultation with a final report to be presented to Council in July 2019.

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