Public closure of Stevenage school leisure centre

John Henry Newman

John Henry Newman - Credit: Archant

A SCHOOL’S leisure centre will be closed to the public after offering facilities for the past 25 years.

John Henry Newman Leisure Centre will not be open for public use from August 16 as the Stevenage secondary school takes over the running of the facility from Stevenage Leisure Ltd.

The leisure centre, based at The John Henry Newman School in Hitchin Road, has two indoor halls for sporting activities such as basketball and badminton, as well as two outdoor floodlit pitches for football, hockey, netball and tennis.

The facilities had been open to the public from 5pm to 10pm on week days as well as for 19 hours at weekends, but this will no longer be the case following the withdrawal of Stevenage Leisure Ltd, a not-for-profit organisation which works in conjunction with Stevenage Borough Council.

The leisure centre will continue to be used by the school but it is not yet clear whether outside sporting clubs and groups will have future access.

Ian Morton, Stevenage Leisure Ltd’s managing director, said: “It is with regret that after 25 years of operating the John Henry Newman Leisure Centre, Stevenage Leisure Ltd has had to close the facility [to the public]. The decision to close has not been taken lightly, however, unfortunately the school has grown significantly over the years and now requires increased use of their leisure facilities outside normal school times.

“The centre does not make any profit that can be reinvested annually and the sports facilities would have required significant additional capital funding over the coming years – particularly the synthetic pitch – to make them acceptable for community use. Therefore, Stevenage Leisure Ltd, in consultation with its partner Stevenage Borough Council, agreed that the school could take back the facilities for school use.”

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Mr Morton said the organisation is trying to relocate users to its 17 other venues in the Stevenage area and that The John Henry Newman School may be able to offer some facilities to clubs and groups.

A spokesman for the secondary school said: “The school is heavily over-subscribed and we are desperate for the extra space. We also want to modernise and redevelop the site. The school is keen to work with the community in the future but we do need to upgrade the facilities first.”

• If you will be affected by the public closure of the leisure centre, email your views to

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