Lower-carbon leisure centres

Public leisure centres in Oxford are getting £10.9million investment to cut carbon, upgrade work will require the four sites involved to be partially or fully closed for certain periods. 

Reducing the carbon footprint

Leisure centres contribute around 40% of the City Council’s carbon footprint,

The upgrade work will see gas boilers replaced with heat pumps that transfer heat from the air or water, which will cut carbon emissions from the Council’s leisure estate by 21%.

Which centres are affected

The four sites to be upgraded are:

  • Ferry Leisure Centre
  • Barton Leisure Centre
  • Leys Pool and Leisure
  • Hinksey Outdoor Pool

Drop-in Q&A event Thurs 21 October

Oxford City Council and contractor Willmott Dixon have organised a drop-in event for anyone with questions about the programme and works. Come along to South Oxford Community Centre to find out how the installation work will affedc Hinksey Park and lake access, other centres, and about the Council’s decarbonisation programme

Location: South Oxford Community Centre

Time: 2.30-4.30pm Thus 21 October

Minimising disruption to services

The upgrade work will mean some facilities will have temporary closures.

The Council, Fusion Lifestyle and the contractors are working together to minimise the disruption to leisure centre provision across the city.

At Ferry Leisure Centre, the council is hiring the temporary external equipment to enable the pool to reopen around mid-November whilst the decarbonisation works are carried out in the plant room.

By hiring in similar temporary equipment at Barton, the council is ensuring that the construction works at Barton Leisure Centre will not lead to service closures to customers.

Staffing remains a challenge across the national leisure sector, and Fusion Lifestyle is recruiting in Oxford in order to keep a full service offering this winter.

Timetable of works

Hinksey area construction

The work around Hinksey Pool is being undertaken in the closed winter period to minimise the impact of the work, with work expected to begin around 18 October. This is a significant project to install heat pumps that transfer solar heat from Hinksey Lake to warm the water in Hinksey Pool, and there will be some local disruption as work progresses.

The installation of the water source heat pump requires trenching through the car park and between the heat pump and swimming pool plant room building. The following sites may have short term closures or restrictions on access to enable work to take place.

  • Hinksey Park
  • Hinksey Step
  • Hinksey Park car park and Lake Street car park
  • Hinksey Lake

There may also need to be some restrictions on the cycle path and pitches during the work, the council is working with its contractor Willmott Dixon to confirm the exact detail of which areas will be affected. A small amount of hedging and trees will need to be removed to lay the pipework, but will be restored elsewhere in the park. This is a project to benefit the environment, so the council is committed to offsetting changes to the landscape through replanting and replacement.

Other leisure centre works

The swimming pool at Ferry Leisure Centre has been closed since August to enable asbestos removal in the boiler plant room. The pool will remain closed for the initial work on installing the heat pumps, but the council is hiring the temporary external equipment to enable it to reopen around mid-November whilst the decarbonisation works are carried out in the plant room.

Leys Pool and Leisure Centre will require some closures later this year, as it is not possible to transfer the key heating systems to external machinery. It is expected that the works will mean closing the pool area at the end of business on 7 November for the pipework alterations which start on the 8 November, and will last approximately seven weeks.

Barton Leisure Centre is expected to remain open throughout the works, as the Council has hired in temporary equipment.

Why is this being done now?

The £10.9million funding was awarded by the government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Fund, and was announced earlier this year.

The funding for this programme has been awarded to be spent by the end of March 2022.

Working with community partners

The Council has worked extensively with community representatives in the run up to this project, to understand the needs of different groups and to keep them informed as plans develop.

The Leisure Partnership Board includes representatives from sports clubs, older leisure users, disability groups, Fusion Lifestyle, councillors and council officers, and has been a key forum for discussing the impact of the programme on leisure, sports and wellbeing users.