THE operator of Winchester's new leisure centre has justified the hike in user fees.

As previously reported, the facilities in Bar End will be more expensive than those at River Park.

Juniors and disabled people will now pay £3 pound to swim – a 33 per cent and a 40 per cent increase respectively.

But Everyone Active, who will take on the running of Winchester Sport and Leisure Park, believe the pricing "reflects the brilliant standard".

A spokesperson said: "In partnership with Winchester City Council, we carried out an extensive market review ahead of the opening of the brand-new Winchester Sport and Leisure Park (WSLP). The results of this review have informed our decision to align and tier our pricing structure to ensure a fair approach to all.

"We are confident that the pricing reflects the brilliant standard of facilities that will be available.

"From the new centre’s opening in May 2021, members and customers will have access to a variety of the centre’s new amenities. The WSLP will offer the community an increased gym space with 200 station fitness suite, three group exercise studios and a 50m eight-lane swimming pool, a confidence water area and large teaching pool area."

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The £40m centre is due to open in the spring. The council is expecting the building contractors, Willmott Dixon, to handover the building in the first week of May so that it can be made ready to open to the public by the end of May.

It will boast a 50m swimming pool and training pool, multi-use sports hall, a 200-station gym, studios, fun climbing, squash courts, and a hydrotherapy suite.

The Chronicle has contacted Emma Back of Winchester Sport and Leisure Trust (SALT) to ask her opinion of the price hike.

She is yet to respond.