Published on

8 July 2024

School places boosted while community aspirations continue at St Crispin's

More than 300 new school places will be created at St Crispin's School during the next five years

The badminton courts in the sports hall at St Crispin's Leisure Centre

St Crispin’s Leisure Centre in Wokingham is set to re-open as a centre for education and community use on Monday 29 July, helping to create vital new school places in the borough.

Usage of the existing facility had been declining since the Covid-19 pandemic and the opening of the nearby Wokingham Leisure Centre at Carnival Hub, so it was becoming unviable commercially.  Alongside this, there is a need for additional secondary school places in the borough. 

In November, Wokingham Borough Council’s decision-making executive agreed to repurpose the centre to provide quality new school places from September 2024, while continuing to offer important amenities for residents and community groups.  This was a key aspiration following last summer’s public consultation.

Reaching an agreement

Since November, key partners have been working together to move proposals forward.

A legal agreement has now been reached between Wokingham Borough Council and The Circle Trust, which runs St Crispin’s School and other schools in the borough.  Under academy lease arrangements, the trust will take on responsibility for the centre, which will support the safe expansion of the school with 55 more Year 7 places for pupils from September 2024 and in subsequent years. 

Places Leisure has already relocated a number of its services to alternative facilities during the past six months and are offering a number of options for residents to continue their fitness journey.

What happens next? 

The leisure centre building will be transferred to the trust on 22 July.   This means Places Leisure members will no longer be able to use the gym facilities from 6pm on Sunday 21 July.

The Circle Trust will spend one week to carry out necessary works and will reopen its doors for community users from Monday 29 July. It will continue to accommodate many activities that already take place at St Crispin's Leisure Centre including specific sports like squash, outside of school hours. 

Anyone interested in hiring the facility should email: 

As part of the agreement, the bottle and clothing banks will be removed from the site on 19 July.  Residents are encouraged to take their unwanted bottles and clothes to other bring banks in the area, such as Cockpit Path Car Park and Easthampstead Road Car Park, or any other major supermarkets.

Residents can also find the bottle and clothing banks near them, by using the online Recycling Locator or the Scrapp app.

The play area equipment, which is also located outside the centre, will also be removed and re-located to a new site later in the year.

Working together to secure a future  

Cllr Prue Bray, executive member for children’s services, said:  “Completing the legal process secures the future of the centre for sport and community use as well as providing more than 300 school places at St Crispin’s during the next five years.

“By working together, we have found a positive way to provide both the secondary school places we so urgently need and to continue sport and community use at the centre. The fruition of this work will see the trust accommodating many activities that currently take place at the leisure centre. It is never an easy decision to make changes, but we do have to make the best use of our assets as guardians of the public purse. We have huge demands for secondary school places and by repurposing the centre, which had declining numbers, it will help us provide these much needed quality school places.”

Circle Trust CEO Ginny Rhodes said "By working in partnership with the Council and the wider community, we will be able to do our part in helping address the shortage of local secondary school places. I hope others will agree that this seems to be the best possible outcome for this part of Wokingham.”

Andy Hinchcliff, St Crispin’s headteacher, added: “I am delighted that we will be able to enhance the facilities, safety and safeguarding for our students on site while also allowing our local community to continue to partake in the various clubs and activities already provided by the centre."

Tony Penge, contract manager – Wokingham at Places Leisure, said: “Places Leisure has managed St Crispin’s Leisure Centre since May 2018 and during this time has been able to provide excellent health and fitness facilities for our local community which we look forward to continuing at Wokingham Leisure Centre at Carnival Hub and BXGFIT in the town centre.

“We’re pleased the centre will continue to be used by a number of key community groups and clubs along with providing the Circle Trust with additional space to meet the increased demand of school places.”

Get updates to your inbox twice a week 

Give website feedback