Chiltern Leisure Centre: how co-location, synergy and sustainability is shaping the future of leisure facilities

David McHendry explains how KKP has helped shape a vision for a new kind of community facility and a new approach to sustainability.


Chiltern Pools had presented the then Chiltern District Council with a problem familiar to many local authorities across the UK. Built in 1965, the centre was showing its age, not only aesthetically but also structurally. Key parts of the building required urgent repair or replacement and it had become uneconomic to maintain and run over the long term.

Having previously delivered the Authority’s sports facilities strategy, KKP was appointed to assess the options in respect of a new community leisure centre hub project in Amersham to replace Chiltern Pools plus other older community buildings on the wider site. We delivered a detailed feasibility evaluation, outline costs and plans for a high-quality venue that would enhance usage and programme breadth, substantially improve income generation and reduce ongoing maintenance costs.

The new building will offer a wide range of sport, leisure and community facilities, including:

  • 8-lane 25m competition pool
  • teaching/diving pool
  • children’s splash pad
  • café
  • fitness suite/dance studios/spin studio
  • sports hall
  • squash courts
  • climbing wall and bouldering
  • spa zone and treatment rooms
  • clip ‘n’ climb kids zone
  • soft play and party rooms
  • library
  • community hall and meeting rooms
  • children’s pre-school provision.

On behalf of the Council, KKP then launched a full public consultation process. This included developing consultation materials, organising and attending numerous public and stakeholder meetings, utilising social media and conducting an online survey, all underpinned by extensive local publicity. This secured an excellent response rate of nearly 2,500 responses.

This demonstrated to local residents and users that it was possible to sensitively fit the range of co-located facilities included on the preferred site while ensuring that the integrity of adjacent open space and the needs of the many interested stakeholders were met. The result was strong support from elected members and the community for the proposed specification.

The Chiltern Lifestyle Centre project demonstrates the benefits of co-location and the synergy achieved by a complementary range of community-focused activities brought together under one roof. One key operational challenge was to ensure that key user groups would be able to benefit from a centralised catering offer and extensive ancillary facilities without losing their identity. This has been achieved within the new design.

The new facility will operate as a community hub accommodating a wide range of activities and users, from sports clubs, U3A programmes and community groups to diving and competition swimming, fitness and a spa offering. The balance of commercially focused and community activity will ensure that it operates at a healthy surplus.

KKP supported the Council to develop the scheme in more detail and test the various adjacencies and co-location advantages of/for various groups and activities. We also led on the consultation and negotiation with Fields in Trust and the Town Council in respect of the need to reconfigure the town’s protected open space to enable the development. The Lifestyle Centre, along with the improvements to the centres at Chesham and Chalfont St Peter, will significantly reduce CO2 emissions.

Working on this options appraisal/feasibility scheme was an exciting and testing project for the KKP team. It enabled us to demonstrate the breadth of our  expertise in concept development and testing, financial modelling and in the delivery of complex design requirements, extensive public consultation and innovative business solutions. Now being taken forward by the new Buckinghamshire Council, we can’t wait to see it welcome its first visitors towards the end of 2021.


David McHendry is managing director at KKP.

Contact David at david.mchendry@kkp.co.uk



April 2021

Open spaces assessment and strategy: the role of open space in planning new development

Chris MacFarlane explains how KKP has helped two local authorities assess the role of open space in the planning of new residential developments.


The open space assessment and strategy undertaken by KKP on behalf of the boroughs of Cheltenham and Tewkesbury was a large-scale project that recognised and demonstrated the importance of green space and recreational provision in the planning of major residential developments.

This project was a substantial joint commission on behalf of two adjacent local authorities and the study, along with the underpinning audit findings, were an important element of both councils’ local plans. The project was also an integral part of identifying and regulating their open space infrastructure.

The context of this open space assessment and strategy was a joint core strategy based upon the need to develop 20,000-plus new homes across the area, plus further homes in Gloucester. In addition to the preparation and justification of open spaces standards, the project incorporated specific work linked to the green spaces and recreational provision, as well as the social sustainability needs of major new settlements, including one comprising 5,000-plus dwellings on the border of the two authorities.

The assessment reports used information gathered from extensive local research, site assessments and consultation with a wide range of key agencies, parish councils and community representatives. Combined with exhaustive data analysis and GIS mapping, the reports provided analysis of demand based upon population distribution, planned growth and consultation findings to provide detail of provision across the area, its condition, distribution and overall quality.

In addition to producing evidence to inform the two local plans and linked supplementary planning documents, KKP produced a specific toolkit for the two authorities setting out exactly how best to utilise, interpret and translate the information provided to set local standards and inform Section 106 and CIL-based developer contributions. This is providing a basis for securing open space facilities through new housing development and informing negotiation with developers for contributions towards the provision of appropriate open space facilities and their long-term maintenance.

The Cheltenham and Tewkesbury project is just one of some 30 open spaces assessments and strategies produced by KKP over the last few years on behalf of clients ranging from London boroughs (including Wandsworth and Richmond-on-Thames), core cities (such as Liverpool) to highly rural districts (including Copeland) and authorities within or incorporating parts of England’s national parks.


Chris MacFarlane is a principal consultant with KKP.


Contact Chris at christopher.macfarlane@kkp.co.uk