The latest on Wimbledon Park Sports Centre

Published by Lianne on

There’s been new developments in the future of Wimbledon Park Sports Centre and a possible new centre at Bransbury Park, that we’d like to update our players on.

We’ve summarised the saga so far below, or you can skip to the latest developments

The story so far

As a club we’d used Wimbledon Park Sports Centre for years for our sessions, filling all five courts in the hall for two hours. However after Covid lockdowns ended in 2021, the centre didn’t reopen when others did. 

SBC without a venue

Despite asking for updates, we were given no information from the centre provider BH Live. Other clubs were all up and running again at their venues, but we didn’t know if or when Wimbledon Park might reopen.

Meanwhile, we received a leaflet through our letterboxes from the political party running the council revealing that they planned to close Wimbledon Park. The proceeds would go to creating a new community and sports centre further east in Bransbury Park with a 2 or 3 court hall (which wouldn’t be usable for our club nights, which attract 25-30 people).

A political leaflet local residents received in September 2020, which was the first anyone in the badminton community heard about Wimbledon Park being closed

Given it looked like Wimbledon Park was destined for the axe, and we couldn’t get any information or reassurances, we took our club and business elsewhere. 

We were lucky to find an alternative Southsea venue at a school in September 2021 – but it was a difficult journey, with limited availability at most halls in the city.

Although we found a replacement venue for our club, we remained concerned about the closure of Wimbledon Park Sports Centre and the proposed replacement at Bransbury Park. 

Loss of badminton facilities in the city

Both casual and competitive players who want somewhere accessible and affordable to play would still be impacted. 

The original Bransbury Park proposals were for a smaller hall than Wimbledon Park Sports Centre, in a totally different location away from central Southsea, and there would likely be limited availability of courts for members of the public to book with so many competing uses from sports and community bookings. 

You can read more in our posts from the time here:

Making the badminton community’s voice heard

After sharing the consultation, and asking for help from the local league, badminton association and Badminton England, more local badminton players heard about the proposals. 

Many of you took the time to give the council feedback on the plans through their consultation. We as a club were also invited for a one-to-one interview to share our concerns and our Chair Owen made representations on behalf of our club and players.

However, we’re sorry to report that the proposals have now worsened.

Latest development: no replacement badminton courts

Since then, the proposals at Bransbury Park have developed further, and you can see the plans as they stand currently (March 2024) on the council website. In short:

  • There will be no sports hall at Bransbury Park at all – it will be mainly a community centre with a small swimming pool/
  • Wimbledon Park Sports Centre will be closed and “the sports hall element will be reprovided elsewhere in the south of the city”, but no clear details of what this means.

The council currently says that Wimbledon Park Sports Centre will not close until suitable alternative provision is officially in place. And that the future use of the Wimbledon Park Sports Centre site will be decided after the Bransbury Park Leisure Centre build has commenced (approximately the winter of 2025). 

Sports organisations objecting to the plans

Badminton England has said they’re strongly opposed to losing Wimbledon Park Sports Centre, without a replacement hall. They also highlight that there’s a shortfall of facilities in the city.

Sport England has also objected to the Bransbury Park Leisure Centre proposal because they’re worried about the loss of sporting facilities there, including no clear future for the courts at Wimbledon Park. 

A shortage of badminton courts in Portsmouth

Sport England also points out that the council doesn’t have an up-to-date understanding of what sports facilities are needed in the city (the most recent report being from 7 years ago). 

Those numbers showed that as a city Portsmouth is short of nearly 10 badminton courts that were of a good quality and accessible to the public (both in terms of location and timings that people are able to play).

Since then, our city’s population has grown. While the University’s 8-court sports centre has opened, it replaces two 4-court halls, so there’s no additional capacity. Further, there’s a high demand for it from badminton and other sports. As one of the few easily-accessible badminton facilities in the south of the city, courts often book up as soon as they become available. There’s more demand than there is availability, and understandably students are prioritised.

Unfortunately the effort that we and others have put into the consultation process so far seems not to have made much difference. In fact our comments that a 2 court hall wasn’t good enough have been used as a justification for offering no badminton facilities at all, which is a clear misunderstanding of our argument.  

It’s sadly become clear that badminton, despite being one of the most popular and accessible sports in the city, isn’t a high priority. 

Next steps

So what can we do next? 

Object to the planning application

While we don’t expect the Bransbury Park plans to improve much at this stage, we as a club have issued a formal objection via the planning system. If you’d like to also lodge an objection you can do so on the Portsmouth City Council website or by emailing – but you’ll have to be quick as the proposal will be decided on in the next few months.

What’s the alternative?

In terms of replacing the lost courts, the council has hinted at a possible relationship with a school opening up their hall to the public. 

But we’re concerned that the council-owned and BH Live-run facilities are generally in bad shape. For example at council-owned sports halls our players have encountered:

  • Dirty, dusty halls, changing facilities and showers
  • Broken or wrongly-set up equipment, including tired nets with holes and poles that are unstable
  • No public water fountains to fill up your bottle
  • Poor customer service, including late changeovers between users, inability to speak to a member of staff on the phone, and more.
  • Limited hall availability – until recently Wimbledon Park Sports Centre was only open for a few weeknights and limited hours on the weekends, making it impossible for most people to use

With all this in mind, we’re watching closely to see what the proposed alternative will be and whether it’ll be a suitable replacement for people looking to play badminton. 

As a club, we’ll be contacting Hampshire Badminton and Badminton England to fill them in on the situation, and see what support they can offer.

We’ll keep our players and community updated as we find out more.

SBC Committee 

Our objection

On behalf of Southsea Badminton Club, we would like to object to the proposals to build a new facility at Bransbury Park without replacement badminton courts for Wimbledon Park Sports Centre.

While this is a standalone planning application, we don’t feel it can be considered without looking at the impact as a whole on sporting facilities in the city.

A popular sport with a long local heritage

Portsmouth is one of a few cities in the country to have a dedicated badminton centre, in the form of Wimbledon Park. Given Portsmouth’s historic role in the formation of the world’s first badminton association in 1893, and the proximity of Wimbledon Park to the location of the first badminton association, we feel it plays a unique and historic role in the sport, fitting to the home of badminton. Indeed, our club is named after one of the world’s first badminton clubs of the same name.

As a dedicated five-court facility in the heart of Southsea, Wimbledon Park has played a central role in the development of the sport in the city, making Portsmouth one of the hotspots for badminton in the country. 

Deficit of courts in the city

Removing the sports hall proposal from Bransbury Park will contribute to the existing deficit in courts within the city and a probable decline in the sport and general health and wellbeing, contrary to the aims of the Imagine Portsmouth 2040 vision. 

As Sport England points out, the council doesn’t seem to have an up-to-date understanding of what sports facilities are needed in the city (the most recent report being from 7 years ago). Those numbers showed that as a city Portsmouth was short of nearly 10 badminton courts that were of a good quality and accessible to the public (both in terms of location and timings that people are able to play). 

Previously the council has pointed to the University’s Ravelin Sports Centre as providing alternative new facilities – but these 8 courts replace the existing 8 in now-closed halls at St Paul’s Sports Centre and Spinnaker Sports Centre – so does not represent additional provision.

Portsmouth’s population has grown, and will continue to grow, so it’s difficult to see how this demand will be met. Anyone in the community who has tried to book a court on an evening or weekend will be able to attest to the shortage of available and good quality courts.

Sustainable location in central Southsea

A sports centre located in Wimbledon Park is also a sustainable location, being very walkable and cyclable to a large number of local residents, in line with the Council’s transport aims (Policy PCS17, Portsmouth Plan). Bransbury Park is out of reach of most residents in central Southsea without a car.

No current replacement facilities

When the closure of Wimbledon Park Sports Centre was floated, it was promised that a like-for-like facility would be constructed at Bransbury. While we would still object to this relocation to a completely different part of the city, where it would be more difficult to access, it at least would maintain the number of courts available (albeit more likely to be used by other sports or activities). 

The project has now been salami-sliced so it was going to contain only 2, and now no sports hall or courts at all. On that basis we think the project should be paused until sufficient funding can be found to construct the originally-promised facility, or maintain and enhance Wimbledon Park, to deliver at least equal if not a greater benefit to the city.


Communications & Socials Officer at Southsea Badminton Club