Problems continue at Greenwich leisure centres as membership falls

Leisure Centres across Greenwich are continuing to see membership numbers falling in new figures before councillors this week.

A new report makes bleak reading for the council’s leisure centre operator named Better. Woolwich has seen membership numbers fall by 20 per cent from 5,000 to 4,000. The Greenwich Centre was down eight per cent up to mid-2019 which followed a nine per cent drop the previous year.

Surrounded by new builds but falling membership numbers

The report does mention increased numbers for the other flagship centre in Eltham but doesn’t give numbers for the change. It states they are from “Senior Membership, Junior members, Disability and GP Referral Healthwise membership, and swimming lesson memberships.”

Eltham centre
Woolwich problems

A replacement leisure centre in Woolwich on general Gordon Square was due to be well underway by now but has been delayed until possibly 2025. The report states:

“The Waterfront Leisure Centre was the Royal Borough’s busiest and
biggest leisure centre with 5000 gym and centre members. The disposal of
the car park to Berkeley Homes in January 2018 saw drop in members, but
also the establishment of other private and budget gyms has reduced this
number to 4,000 members.”

Looking down Woolwich High Street with Waterfront on left

“Despite this drop, GLL and RBG continue to invest in the venue, including a large gym refresh programme in December 2018 in order to provide Woolwich residents with excellent gym facilities at affordable prices.”

The report also blames low-cost gyms for the fall in members at Greenwich and warn the same could now happen at Eltham as a new gym opened in Kidbrooke.

Puregym Kidbrooke opened in December 2019

Libraries located alongside leisure centres also saw falls, with Eltham down from 547k to 529k. At the Greenwich Centre, visits were down from 289k to 267k. Given the massive number of new homes in the area this is not what was expected, but the centre is poor to reach on foot particularly from the Peninsula.

The Council are hoping a new centre in Plumstead will be popular when it opens in coming months.


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15 thoughts on “Problems continue at Greenwich leisure centres as membership falls

  • Parking at the Greenwich centre is impossible. Yes, people go to the gym to be healthy and should walk, which seems to be the rather simplistic view people took. But that’s not how people operate, and of course people have kids for events, the library etc. No parking was made, and Woolwich Waterfront shows what happens when you remove a car park.

    Public realm is pretty poor around the Greenwich Centre, though the pocket parks make some improvement. They have also made it easier to enter if you’ve a class or booking.

  • What about Charlton Lido, are there figures for that?

  • The other problem with Council run Leisure Centres and in particularly the WaterfrontLeisure Centre at Woolwich is that the changing facilities and toilets etc are dirty and not well cared for. There as also been anti social behaviour in them which young children do not want to see.

    I do not know if the staff are carrying out their duties correctly but at times it looks lime the facilities have not cleaned or seen a cleaner for some time.

    Leisure Centre Management need to get tough on these issues if they want to see membership numbers rise.

  • ***Like the facilities have not been cleaned *** Really do need to learn to type properly,

  • and their prices also don’t really help, especially with other gyms coming in at half their prices!

  • Privately run Gyms do seem to be cheaper than Council Leisure Centres. Another factor is there are now a lot more gyms which have opened around the Borough than there so more people have a gym closer to where they live.

    The Pure Gym by Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer’s in Charlton seems to do pretty well.and is busy most of the day and evening. Possibly as it is easier to park here.

    Lady only gyms. also seem to be doing well.

    • I used to go to water workout at the Arches, and carried on at the new centre. I then found I had to book in advance to get in (otherwise it was already fully booked). Then I found that it was hard to book as it got booked up almost as soon as booking opened ( a week in advance).
      For a while joined in the game of booking automatically and then cancelling at the last minute if I couldn’t go.
      But that’s not a nice way to be.
      And I’m paying for this….
      So I stopped.
      And a walk in the park is free

  • It’s a shithole. Simple.

    We had a great pool with Arches Leisure Centre which sat underfunded and unloved whilst GLL raked it in with it’s nationwide gyms until they closed it. And it’s sat vacant for years whist they wait for someone to build flats out of a swimming pool.

    Meanwhile in the rush for 2012 we have a really poorly thought out gym and pool.
    The changing room floors haven’t been finished properly so water doesn’t run off and just sits there, the showers are knackered, the pool is shallow and stays that way for the whole length, theres no leisure pool for kids and parents….and it’s bloody expensive… thanks.

    Not been to the gym to be fair but with the amount of cheap gyms opening up I don’t have faith it’s going to survive.

    • Totally agree with this. Also the cafe is crap. Food unhealthy and boring and missed an opportunity to have the glass doors opening so could sit outside.

    • I too agree completely with this. The whole change from the Arches to the Greenwich Centre is depressing. Inferior pool, no leisure pool, no sauna. And I preferred the old gym with its natural light and different sections/rooms.

  • Yes the Borough of Greenwich as more Gyms now than it as ever seen before. Private Gyms used to be very few and far between years ago but not so now.

    Public realm around the Greenwich Centre and the Waterfront Leisure Centre is far from good.The Waterfront is also not that easy to reach from Woolwich Town Centre.

    Graham raised some valid points about the cleanliness and anti social behaviour at the Waterfront Leisure Centre which could put new potential members off.

  • I was a member of the Eltham gym, I found the management to be unhelpful and rude. I asked one of the managers about the broken weight machine and why was it still not fixed and was told “you get what you pay for, there are plenty of other gyms in the area” They don’t seem care about the gym goer or the facility

  • They seem to think it is acceptable to have a mountain of people walking round in a shirt / tie, looking busy with a clipboard… but one member of staff on the ground floor trying to service the customers.

    Eight Managers in the office but no cleaners to top up the hand soap. Good thinking genius!

    I feel sorry for the front line staff. Absolutely bonkers attitude towards leisure management.

    Forced to spend my money in private sector nowadays.

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