In a bid to encourage even more people to enjoy the beautiful 230-acre Leybourne Lakes Country Park in Kent, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council has enhanced the incumbent water sport provision through the development of  a café, outdoor seating area, toilets and changing facilities.

Procured, designed and developed by Alliance Leisure through the UK Leisure Framework, which is owned and managed by Denbighshire Leisure, the new facilities have been largely funded through the developer contributions paid to the council under Section 106 payments, leaving the council with just 10 per cent of the £880,000 to invest.

Speaking of the development, Councillor Des Keers at Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, says: “Since its creation in 2004, Leybourne Lakes Country Park has been popular with families, cyclists, walkers, anglers and water sports enthusiasts alike. It received Local Wildlife Site designation in 2008 and has achieved the Green Flag Award for over 15 years, whilst maintaining Country Parks accreditation with Natural England.

“Located on the waterside of the Ocean Lake, the watersports centre offers a range of activities including stand up paddleboarding, open water swimming, kayaking and windsurfing. Whilst many people take advantage of the facilities, the site lacked a social hub and basic amenities to enable families and individuals to extend their stay beyond an hour or so.

“This recent investment changes that. Now, with the option to purchase food and drink in the café whilst enjoying the beautiful lakeside view from the outdoor seating area, with access to baby changing facilities and bathrooms, people are more likely to visit and to extend their stay. In addition, the changing facilities make visits more comfortable for our regulars whilst also attracting new participants to give the sports a go.”

Working as Lead Development Contractor, Alliance Leisure appointed Saunders Boston Architects to design an environmentally sustainable building that complements its surroundings. Cutting-edge ‘green technology’ is being incorporated to drive energy efficiency, including the installation of a Water Source Heat Pump using water from the lake and solar power to create a unique, environmentally friendly, development in this  beautiful parkland setting.

The new café opened to the public on July 15 and is being managed by tmactive.

The new amenities are expected to have a transformational effect on the way people interact with the Country Park. Rather than popping by for a quick water-based activity session or walk, people are now much more likely to enjoy a longer period of time enjoying the great outdoors whilst utilising the facilities. The inclusion of the café introduces a sustainable revenue stream, creating an opportunity for the development to become commercially self-sufficient.
Tom Fairey
Development Director
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