Please send me SCA's fortnightly briefing:

July 10, 2009

What makes Atlantis Leisure so good

One of the great success stories of community enterprise is Atlantis Leisure. 17 years ago, the community took over the running of Oban’s local swimming  pool which was losing the council £300k per annum. Since then, it has been transformed into a hugely successful, multi-sports leisure centre. With help from Carnegie Trust, Atlantis have been trying to work out what factors have been most crucial in its success

Why is Atlantis Leisure so good?



The clear focus of our action research is on sport & leisure provision in rural areas. Our report though has wider implications with our research
framework and conclusions being applicable to most community-led service providers whether at the start-up or ongoing stage.

The researchers, Hugh McLean and Roy Clunie were concept founders and Directors of Atlantis Leisure (Oban and Lorn Community Enterprise Ltd.) with Hugh serving as Chairman for the first 10 years and Roy for the next 5 years.

Atlantis Leisure, now in its 17th year is an extremely successful community
enterprise. The community, having leased the existing town swimming pool from the local authority, have developed and expanded the facilities into Atlantis Leisure becoming the regional centre for sport and leisure in North Argyll. With 14,000 users per month and a staff of 40+ between core staff, coaches, class instructors Atlantis Leisure brings obvious health and wellbeing benefits as well as being a major employer and economic
asset to the area.


With this background we were contracted by Carnegie to study Atlantis Leisure and other successful community-led organisations across the UK and Ireland who operate in the sport and leisure field as part of their Rural Action Research Programme.

The study focuses on what makes these organisations successful and on how it can be made easier for other community organisations to positively impact on the provision and delivery of sustainable facilities and services in rural areas.

To this end the analysis of the information gained in the research enabled us to distil the essence of these successful organisations into Key Elements of success and the factors required for community organisations to be sustainable.

Best Practise, its Transferability and Policy Changes required to meet the above aim have also been formed from the analysis.  To see full report click here  Carnegie Report

Some key quotes arising from the research

“If the problems are in the community, the solutions are in the community”

“Atlantis Leisure has both a commercial and community feel to it”

“Partnership working – similar people with similar aims who want to work together and have something to bring to the table”

“Important that the funder pays the rate for the job and not seen as a cost cutting exercise”

“Director skill sets require to change in line with the business needs”

“Local people must be the guiding force”

“Current belief is that active communities and social enterprises are more innovative in finding solutions”