Dartford Borough Council has confirmed that Fairfield, the Borough’s flagship pool and sports facility, is to reopen in February 2016 and that it has appointed Places for People Leisure to manage it for the community in a ten year deal.

Work on the £12m project at Fairfield’s Lowfield Street site is nearing completion and users can look forward to a host of new and improved facilities.

The new Fairfield will include a 95 station gym, exercise studios, dedicated group cycling studio, extensively refurbished 25m six lane main pool with diving area, teaching pool, a new poolside sauna and separate wet and dry changing areas, as well as a new café and car parking. A four court sports hall has also been added providing opportunities for a range of indoor sports.

Council Leader Jeremy Kite says that finding an operator who understood the importance of Fairfield to the whole community was a key objective.

“The search for new partners to run Fairfield was never just about the numbers. We wanted people who understood the role that this great new facility would play in the lives of local people. Users want a clean, well run facility with good staff and sensible pricing that encourages more and more people to get fit, relax and have fun with their family and friends. There were a number of very high quality bids but we chose Places for People because they really understood our ambitions.”

Formed in 1991, Places for People Leisure is a Social Enterprise currently managing more than 115 local authority facilities across the country. It has a great reputation for delivering high quality leisure services and impressed the Council with both its expertise and the new ideas it brought to the table.

Dartford Borough Council has also confirmed that Places for People Leisure will operate the centre at no cost to local taxpayers. “We have invested a lot of local people’s money in Fairfield and been rewarded by a range of bidders who confirmed that its facilities are top-notch and likely to be extremely popular. The Council’s deal means the operators will be funded from Fairfield’s income, not public subsidy.”

Councillor Kite also revealed that pricing was a key part of the Council’s discussions with potential bidders. “We want to encourage families to visit again and again without worrying about the affordability and I think users will be pleasantly surprised with the deals on offer. I can confirm straightaway that car parking will be free for users, although hopefully lots of people will leave their cars at home and walk or run to visit!”

A recruitment process for all staff will be commencing shortly and customer information on the centre will soon be available via www.fairfieldleisure.co.uk. Please contact enquiries@fairfieldleisure.co.uk with any initial enquiries, recruitment@fairfieldleisure.co.uk for employment enquiries or memberships@fairfieldleisure.co.uk for membership or bookings.

Places for People Leisure’s Business Development Director Tim Hewett said, “We are delighted and proud to have been chosen to operate the Council’s prestigious new leisure facility in the heart of Dartford particularly in the year we celebrate 25 years of our partnership working with local authorities such as Dartford Borough Council. As a Social Enterprise our mission is to ‘create active places and healthy people’. We therefore applaud the Council’s vision of creating a new leisure facility which is fit for future generations and look forward to working with them and providing high quality services and activities to the residents of the borough in the future”.