Councillor Joe Carter

Residents still waiting for leisure centre to reopen – three years on

Delays to refurbishment plans at Pentwyn have left ‘a burning hole in community spirit’

PENTWYN residents are losing hope that their leisure centre and pool, which closed three years ago, will reopen with promised refurbishments.

Pentwyn Leisure Centre was closed in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic.

Cardiff Blues rugby team later moved into part of the leisure centre, before the NHS temporarily took over the main hall as a vaccination centre.

In March 2022, the leisure centre’s hall reopened on a pre-booking basis, but residents are still waiting for promised refurbishments and its full services, including the pool and fitness classes, to reopen.

Cardiff Council said full plans and a timeline of works would be released in March, but after many similar promises the community is losing hope.

The main hall and Astroturf pitch at Pentwyn Leisure Centre are open, but the swimming pool remains closed.

 “I’m not holding my breath for that unfortunately, because I think there’s been a few days when things have been mentioned about it being sorted and nothing’s come from it,” said Pentwyn resident Samantha Emes.

“It’s like they burnt a hole in Pentwyn’s community spirit.”

The proposals for the centre, now run by Better Leisure, include a new gym, as the old one is now being used as part of the Cardiff Blues facility, a new Astroturf football pitch outside, and a refurbished cafeteria.

Samantha Emes, 42, said her family have used Pentwyn Leisure Centre for as long as she can remember

They include replacing the current pool with a smaller 25m one and removing the slide.

Ms Emes, 42, has lived in Pentwyn all her life and used the leisure centre for as long as she can remember. Her two children, 21 and 14, learnt to swim there.

“I was around 10 or 11, I remember being allowed to go over to the leisure centre,” Ms Emes remembered.

“The pool would be full. It was amazing. I know it’s a fond memory because I remember it so well. It’s such a shame that the kids who in the area can’t benefit from the same thing.

“I started taking [my children] there from six months old.

 “I’ve done the mother and baby classes, I’ve done the swimming lessons, I’ve used the tennis courts.

“The cafeteria was a lovely place to go after the children had been swimming. It used to be day out.”

Pentwyn councillor Joe Carter is sure it will eventually reopen, but the publication of detailed plans and timeline of works has been delayed several times.

“We were expecting detailed proposals to be coming straight after the election in 2022. The minute we met with the council after the elections, this time scale was pushed back, we were looking at summer, then autumn, and now it’s spring this year,” he said.

An employ at the Better Leisure Centre, who did not want to be named, said the centre had partially reopened for groups to use the main hall or the Astroturf football pitch outside but the pool remains closed.

“We had a gentleman come in with his three kids for swimming the other day. It’s so sad to see,” he said.

“We just want it open again.”

When she received her free senior citizen swim pass in January 2020, 63-year-old Jules Farrell was enthusiastic to keep fit during the special swim mornings from 5am to 9am Monday to Friday.

But not long after, the council cut the senior swim morning down to one day a week. This day would change depending on which Cardiff leisure centre you went to.

“They’ve stopped doing it daily for senior citizens. Why? All they’re doing is pushing a load of senior citizens all together, it was mayhem. So many of us, it was dangerous.”

The closure of Pentwyn’s pool and the crammed swimming mornings mean Ms Farrell has stopped swimming altogether.

Ms Farrell added: “I feel totally let down.”