COLCHESTER Sports Park is on course to lose £1.3million since it opened, a Gazette investigation has revealed. 

The challenges facing Colchester Council's leisure facilities have been laid bare in data obtained via a Freedom of Information request. 

In the current financial year, the authority's three Leisure World branches, the tennis centre, and the newly built Colchester Sports Park at the Northern Gateway are expected to lose the council £275,100.

But the figures show the Northern Gateway sports park in particular is facing mounting deficits.

Since opening at a cost of £29million in 2021, Colchester Sports Park will have lost the council £1.32million by the end of the 2023-24 financial year, estimates show.

Gazette: Costly – Colchester Sports Park is projected to lose £594,500 this yearCostly – Colchester Sports Park is projected to lose £594,500 this year (Image: Colchester Council)

This year, the facility is expected to lose £594,500 – the biggest loss since it opened.

That figure will be up 66 per cent from the £357,299 loss recorded in the 2022-23 accounts, though the facility is expected to turn a profit in two years’ time.

Despite the losses incurred by the facility, members of Colchester Sports Park say the investment is good value given its modern surroundings and range of activities it offers.

Nicola Osborne, 43, said: “I am massively into sport – having facilities like this for everyone and every age is great.

“In fact, we probably need more of them.”

Mrs Osborne continued by saying Colchester Sports Park offers cleaner and more attractive surroundings than Leisure World, which opened in 1991.

“My children use the bigger halls at the Leisure World for roller hockey and they are battered, but this is nice and new.

Gazette: Modern – Nicola Osborne and Simon Osborne had praise for Colchester Sports Park, saying it offers a modern alternative to Leisure World Modern – Nicola Osborne and Simon Osborne had praise for Colchester Sports Park, saying it offers a modern alternative to Leisure World (Image: Daniel Rees, Newsquest)

“It’s nice to have somewhere with ample parking – I know people who come from far and wide to use the cycle track, because it’s something different.”

Simon Aldous, 40, said although Colchester Sports Park offers various positives, it still needs greater publicity among residents.

He said: “The Sports Park has got a good café and lovely staff.

“It’s good [but] it’s on the outskirts – there’s still a lot of people that don’t know that it’s here.”

Colchester Council: 'We will turn fortunes of Colchester Sports Park around'

COUNCIL bosses have said the authority is confident it will turn around the financial fortunes of one of its newest – and most expensive – leisure facilities.

Colchester Sports Park is projected to lose nearly £600,000 by the end of the current financial year, meaning it will have run up losses of more than £1.3million since it opened in the summer of 2021.

But Colchester Council has said it expects to balance the books at the facility by 2026.

A spokesman for the authority said it welcomed the opportunity to clarify data regarding its leisure facilities operation.

He said: “Colchester Sports Park has seen impressive income growth.

“Revenue has increased by 25 per cent from 2022-23 to 2023-24 and is up a significant 45 per cent since the park opened in 2021.

“This success is due in part to partnerships with national governing bodies and strategic marketing efforts.

“These initiatives not only improve the park's commercial performance but also contribute to its positive social impact.

“The business plan for Colchester Sports Park projected profitability within a timeframe of four to five years.

“We are confident the facility will achieve this target within the planned timescale.”

Leisure World remains Colchester Council’s most profitable leisure asset, even though running costs for the facility are expected to be £1.9million by the end of the current financial year – a huge increase from the £1million recorded in 2018-19.


The spokesman added: “The increase in premises-related expenses at Leisure World is primarily due to rising energy costs, a challenge faced by the entire leisure sector.

“We are actively mitigating these costs through successful bids for grant support and implementing energy-saving initiatives across our facilities.”

A recent pay rise which was won by the council’s aerobics instructors has also been taken into account by council bosses.

“It is also important to acknowledge the impact of rising staff costs following a recent pay rise," they said.

“We are committed to finding a sustainable balance between investing in our staff and keeping all of our facilities affordable.”

According to Colchester Council, “strategic improvements” are behind the increase in profits made by the Leisure World Tennis Centre, with data showing customer and client receipts were behind an expected £60,000 increase in profits from 2022-23 to 2023-24.