Published: Friday, 8 October 2021

Oxford City Council has published more detail on the construction works for the £10.9m grant funded project to reduce the carbon emissions from public leisure centres.

The works schedule includes information on the decarbonisation works at Hinksey pool that include some works around Hinksey lake.

The programme will see water and air source heat pumps installed at:

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

Installing the new heat pumps requires significant construction work, but the council is making every effort to minimise the impact on leisure users and the wider localities.

The work is a key part of the Council’s aim to become a Zero Carbon Council across its own estate and operations by 2030, with leisure centres responsible for around 40% of the Council’s building carbon emissions.

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.

Hinksey Pool users and sports and leisure groups using the parks have been kept informed by the council about the forthcoming works. The council are also working with Willmott Dixon on a drop-in event for anyone with questions about the works to be able to speak to the experts involved. The event is expected in October and full details will be published shortly.

Minimising the impact of leisure centre works

As well as undertaking work at Hinksey during the closed period, the council is working hard to minimise the impact on customers at other leisure centre sites. The council is bringing in temporary plant machinery to provide heating and air handling at Barton Leisure Centre and Ferry Leisure Centre in order to minimise any impact on centre users. 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.

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.

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.

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.

“This is a very exciting project to secure the future of our leisure centres as we move towards a low-carbon future. For Hinksey residents and park users in particular, we have to ask for your patience and support while the works are carried out. We are working closely with our contractors to minimise the disruption and the impact on the local area.

“We have worked hard with the contractors Willmott Dixon and our leisure provider, Fusion Lifestyle, to find creative options to keep the other leisure sites open as far as possible. We know how important our leisure centres are for physical and mental health, and we want to support our communities by keeping these safe spaces for leisure and fitness open as fully as possible.”

Councillor Mary Clarkson, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism

“We are proud to be working alongside Oxford City Council on this exciting carbon reduction project, which will deliver a step change in the mitigation of fossil fuels in the local community.  The programme is close to our heart and through our own 2030 ‘Now or Never’ Sustainability strategy, we have committed to achieving net zero operational carbon on all our new buildings and major refurbishments within the next decade.

“Working in tandem alongside the council, Fusion Lifestyle and the local community, we will deliver the works as swiftly as possible while ensuring the highest standards are met, ensuring the leisure centres provide the best possible facilities once the works are complete.”

Richard Poulter, Managing Director from Willmott Dixon’s Central South Region

“We’ll be working closely with Oxford City Council to minimise disruption for our customers and provide the best leisure facilities that we can across the city whilst the work is in progress.  We’re committed to offering excellent services that are accessible to everyone in Oxford, and we’ll keep our members regularly updated about any service changes" 

Anthony Cawley, Director of Operations at Fusion Lifestyle

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