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With the existing aquatic facilities reaching the end of their life, the community’s favourite Leisure Centre has been approved for a huge upgrade that will include four pools and a new spa and sauna…

Willoughby City Council has just announced exciting news for the community in regards to the Willoughby Leisure Centre upgrade: “The Willoughby Leisure Centre pool hall redevelopment has reached an exciting milestone. The Sydney North Planning Panel has unanimously approved the Development Application (DA) for the upgraded facility which will provide an inclusive, vibrant and accessible aquatic centre, meeting the diverse needs of the local community.”

Key features of the new pool hall, for which Council has budgeted $18.3M, include a rebuild of the existing eight lane 25 metre pool, a new four lane 20 metre pool, a new 4 lane 20 metre learn to swim pool, a new toddler play pool and new spa and sauna connected to the main pool hall.

The new aquatics facility provides a variety of water depths and temperatures, opening up opportunities for a range of programs to residents of all ages and backgrounds including children, older residents and CALD (Culturally and linguistically diverse) communities.

The much needed upgrade will also include a refurbished reception area, and sustainability features including solar panels and water harvesting, and a refurbished roof.

Mayor Gail Giles-Gidney said the new pool hall will meet the needs of the whole community.

“I am delighted that we are one step closer to delivering this important facility. We have undertaken extensive consultation with the community and stakeholders throughout this project and our concept design reflects this” said Mayor Gail Giles-Gidney.

Now that Council has received the green light, officers will work with the project’s architects to develop detailed designs, prior to tendering the construction of the project. It is anticipated that the 18 month construction will commence in September 2022.

The approval comes with a number of conditions which Council will address including encouraging stakeholders to plan and promote alternatives to travel by and parking at the venue, the planting of 72 endemic trees and ongoing communication with local residents during the construction of period. 

So Why Not a 50m Pool?

According to Willoughby Leisure Centre, In the past, community feedback has supported a 50-metre pool. However, due to site constraints, the inclusion of a 50-metre pool would mean they could not include separate pools for learn-to-swim, rehabilitation and other recreation. Each of these pools are different depths and temperatures.

“These complementary pools provide programs to important segments of the community. For example, the learn-to-swim pool would provide recreation and encourage a healthy lifestyle for children. It also encourages skills that could one day save a life.


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The growing number of older residents demands a stronger health and wellbeing focus, which would be met with classes such as aqua aerobics and space for rehabilitation. This pool is at a higher temperature. The market for recreation and leisure is generally made up of families who visit aquatic facilities for fun, relaxation and social activities. Studies indicate around 60% to 70% of pool users come from this group. They would not have any space at all if a 50-metre pool were installed and so visitor numbers would drop significantly.

Few new 50-metre pools have been built in urban areas in Australia in the past 20 years except where they will support state, national or international competitions. This is because construction and operation is expensive.

A 50-metre pool generally needs a catchment of 100,000 residents. The population in the Willoughby local government area in 2018 was 80,339 and is forecast to grow to 91,848 by 2036. Lastly, there are already 50-metre pools nearby including in Lane Cove, North Sydney, Northern Beaches and Ku-ring-gai local government areas.

In summary, including a 50-metre pool would lead to higher initial and ongoing costs and lower visitor numbers compared with a 25-metre pool and complementary smaller pools. We believe this will best meet the needs of the community and be the best use of ratepayer funds.”

What are the Sustainable Features?

Environmentally sustainable features will be prioritised in the design to reduce the building’s carbon footprint. The building envelope is being designed in line with “Green Star” principles. The life-cycle of the new pool areas is expected to be at least 30 years.

Possibilities include:

  • Installation of new water filtration technology – OC1
  • Installation of Solar PV panelling and battery storage units
  • Double glazing and design principles to reduce heat loss
  • Heat pump technology for pool heating and the domestic services
  • Electric vehicle charging points
  • Rain water harvesting and reuse

What About Lap Swimming?

There will be a dedicated lane for lap swimmers in the new 25-metre pool. The 25-metre pool will not be used as a competition pool but will provide lap and recreational swimming for the community.

When Will it Happen?

It is expected construction will commence late 2022. Only the pool area will close. The other areas of the Centre will remain open during construction. The pool area will be closed for about 18 months from late 2022. This may change because of the design and approval process.

For practicality and safety, the whole pool area will be closed during the upgrade. The sports hall, health club (gym), cycle studio, café and crèche will remain open.

Take a Tour of the New Facility

Click here for a flythrough of the upgrade: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tmaeho-yOiY&t=5s


If you’d like to view some of the other nearby places to make a splash ahead of summer, click here.