The future of Wimbledon Park Sports Centre
Many in the badminton community have heard rumours about the future of our host venue, Wimbledon Park Sports Centre.
This was first hinted at in a recent political party leaflet some weeks back. A new Portsmouth City Council survey confirms the council’s proposals:
We have set aside money for essential maintenance at Eastney Swimming Pool and Wimbledon Park Sports Centre but this would not cover any enhancements to encourage new customers or allow for any improvements to accessibility.
One option we’re considering is to put the money towards a new swimming pool, sports facilities and community centre at Bransbury Park, on the site of the present sports and community centre.
We would need funding from outside the council for this. It would replace Wimbledon Park Sports Centre and Eastney Swimming Pool as it would offer what they currently do and more.Portsmouth City Council survey, November 2020
The survey mainly focuses on new facilities at Bransbury Park – but these are only possible with the permanent closure of Wimbledon Park Sports Centre.
You can share your views on the closure with the council below, or read on for our views first.
Impact on badminton in the city
We’re concerned about these proposals for these reasons:
1 | Lack of high quality badminton facilities in Portsmouth
Wimbledon Park is the only badminton centre in the city. It certainly has its problems as a venue.
However it’s unique offer to the Southsea community appears to be an afterthought in the council’s plans.
Unfortunately many other Southsea sports facilities are less suited to badminton sessions. They’re often too small, poorly maintained, share space with inappropriate activities, or are difficult to access and book by the local community.
Losing the large and easy-to-access Wimbledon Park Sports Centre would be a significant loss to a city with a long badminton heritage and thriving player community. (The world’s first badminton association was established up a stone’s throw away on Waverley Grove in Southsea!)
2 | The most popular badminton club in Hampshire faces a loss of venue
Southsea Badminton Club welcomes over 170 different players to our club nights over the course of a year. These include both competitive and casual players, the majority of whom live in Portsmouth but some from further afield.
Our club bucks the trend of declining participation in many badminton clubs around the UK. For instance, our size means we regularly book the whole 5-court hall for our sessions and matches.
Unless the replacement facility is an equally-sized replacement venue, we’ll regrettably have to consider closing the most popular badminton club in Hampshire.
3 | Less accessible badminton for the community
Unlike many sports clubs, we’re open to all players. We ask for no upfront payments or subscriptions. Our pay-and-play model offers a cheap, accessible and flexible way for local people to keep fit and well.
Badminton England and Hampshire Badminton have celebrated and shared our open and welcoming approach as best practice, and granted us ‘Premier Club’ status for our work.
Again, if a like-for-like facility isn’t available, we will sadly have to end this thriving, volunteer-run, community offering.
4 | Loss of sports facilities for central Southsea residents
Bransbury Park is relatively close to Eastney Swimming Pool, so it would likely be an appropriate replacement for Eastney residents that swim.
However, it’s much further away from Wimbledon Park and residents living in the PO5 area.
Many users of Wimbledon Park, including many of our players, live in central Southsea and walking distance of Wimbledon Park. However Bransbury Park is a mile and a half, or over 30 mins walk away. This makes it largely inaccessible to central Southsea residents, unless they drive. This should be a consideration for the transport plans for the replacement facility.
Make sure badminton isn’t forgotten
Take 5 minutes to help make sure badminton isn’t forgotten in these plans.
So whether you’re a regular club player, or just play for fun at Wimbledon Park Sports Centre, help protect this important badminton facility.
Tell the council your views on the loss of Wimbledon Park for our whole badminton community (closes 13 December 2020):
And don’t forget to share the survey with anyone else you know who might be affected!