Working for client Parkwood Leisure alongside North Devon Council, Sport England and Speller Metcalfe, Watson Batty Architects were appointed as Architects on the delivery team for the new Tarka Leisure Centre situated in North Devon. Now complete, the new centre provides a much-needed swimming pool facility for an area where swimming is an important part of the local culture, enabling the local community to develop the key skills required to safely use the sea.
The new leisure centre is carefully located and linked with the existing Tarka Tennis Centre through a well-designed flow of connection and circulation between the existing and new part of the completed facility.
With three large surf-lifesaving clubs in North Devon, all of which lack winter training venues, the main town Barnstable was the prime location for the new centre, itself having a thriving swimming club and water polo teams. As well as providing much need swimming facilities, the new Tarka Leisure Centre will also increase the opportunity for people to participate in volunteering and training activities, especially for young people. The resulting project vision recognises the importance of swimming in North Devon by delivering a pool (and ancillary facilities) to match the high quality of the existing facilities currently provided at Tarka Tennis Centre and Falcons Gymnastics Academy.
The new build leisure centre offers the local community a unique, improved and distinctive sporting, leisure, health and wellbeing destination; a place which will significantly enhance the existing facilities to the benefit of the wider community. It will provide a wide range of sport and leisure facilities, creating a compact and effective complex reflecting a modern approach to leisure centre delivery.
The centre includes: a covered skiing area, 25m 8 lane main pool and side pool spectator seating, 8.5×20m 4 lane learner pool (both pools having moveable floors), a 4-court sports hall, 120-station fitness suite and 2 exercise studios. Additional children’s facilities include a double height children’s adventure play area and an external civic area with a children playground. Further amenities consist of a café that is linked with an external terrace (and comes with views on to the covered skiing area, swimming pool hall and sports hall), a foyer and reception area whilst outdoor there will be a new full-size 3G synthetic turf pitch.