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New leisure centre for Waltham Forest

Plans to create a state-of-the art sport, health and fitness facility for Waltham Forest residents were last night (Tuesday 10 March) given the go-ahead.

Called Waltham Forest Leisure Centre, the new facility will be built next to the athletics track off Chingford Road, where the former Pool and Track building once stood. The major development is part of Waltham Forest Council’s ongoing efforts to help residents of all ages lead healthy and active lives.

Building work on the site is expected to take 18 months and once complete the first-class leisure centre will boast a range of facilities including a 25m, eight-lane competition pool, teaching pool, four-court sports hall, an activity room/studio and a soft play area for children.

In addition, visitors will have access to an extreme sports zone with a climbing wall, dance studios, a new gym and changing facilities and both wet and dry health and wellbeing spa areas. The centre will also have 1m and 3m diving boards and an outdoor floodlit artificial sports pitch.

Approval for the new leisure facility was given yesterday by Waltham Forest Council’s Planning Committee during a meeting at the Town Hall that attracted much public interest.

Cllr Ahsan Khan, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “We want to give residents access to first-class sports, fitness and health facilities, and fully believe Waltham Forest Leisure Centre will have something for everyone.

“It promises to be a landmark leisure venue for residents and visitors to the borough alike – rivalling the biggest and best leisure centres in London. Inevitably, a project of this scale will not be able to tick each and every box on people’s wish lists, but we’re confident visitors to the new centre will be really impressed with everything it has to offer.”

While the new leisure facility is being built, the running track, which benefitted from reconstruction and resurfacing work last year, will remain open.

The creation of Waltham Forest Leisure Centre is part of the Council’s multi-million pound leisure centre investment programme, which has already delivered newly-refurbished centres in Chingford, Leyton, Leytonstone and Walthamstow.

Prior to the recent demolition of the run-down Pool and Track building, membership at the centre had dropped by a third - with people opting for the new and improved centres nearby over the Pool and Track’s facilities, which needed regular repairs.

Cllr Khan said: “We expect the new Waltham Forest Leisure Centre to see an extra 175,000 visits per year based on the increased number of visitors that other re-developed leisure centres have seen – but in the meantime, our other five refurbished centres are ideal venues for anyone looking to get active.

“All of the Council’s leisure centres represent a more affordable alternative to expensive private gyms offering similar facilities, so I’d thoroughly recommend you pay a visit to your local centre and see for yourself what it has to offer.”

Leyton Gym reopened in 2013 and now boasts a 100-station gym and a spacious free weight and fitness area. The nearby Leyton Leisure Centre has a new 25m pool, teaching pool, water flume and aqua play features, a new reception, changing rooms and two studios.

The former Cathall Leisure Centre reopened in October last year as Leytonstone Leisure Centre. It has a fully refurbished 25m main pool, teaching pool and poolside sauna, a new reception with fast track entry, two-court sports hall, 100-station fitness suite, a soft play area, multi-purpose room, a refurbished studio and brand new changing areas for all activities.

Chingford Leisure Centre offers a 45-station gym, 28 group exercise classes every week, a 25m six-lane swimming pool and a smaller children’s pool. Walthamstow Leisure Centre (formerly Kelmscott) was refurbished and re-opened in 2013. It is now home to a state-of-the-art gym, refurbished changing rooms and toilets, a red crumb pitch for sports and a new reception.

All of the centres with swimming pools – Leyton Leisure Centre, Chingford Leisure Centre and Leytonstone Leisure Centre – subscribe to the Council’s free swimming offer for under 18s, over 60s and residents with a disability.

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