When Doncaster Council declared a climate and biodiversity emergency in 2019, they knew that their ageing leisure centres were part of the problem. Askern Leisure Centre was especially challenging, as one of England’s two remaining coal-heated leisure centres. Its operating costs were high and set to increase further as energy costs continue to rise—leisure centres are one of the most energy intensive parts of any local authority’s estates.
Doncaster Council, in partnership with Doncaster Culture & Leisure Trust, saw an opportunity to create an environmentally sustainable and much-improved centre. Askern Leisure Centre has the potential to become an exemplar decarbonisation project, one which the council could replicate across its estate in the future.
Three Winning Facts:
- Decarbonisation has been achieved at this 1950s swimming pool building, following replacement of its two coal-fired boilers with air source heat pumps.
Key elements include a contemporary building management system, asbestos removal, new cladding, fenestration, and roof—all in alignment with stringent insulation values.
- A dilapidated swimming pool facility has become a class-leading community hub and indoor/outdoor destination, in tandem with the adjacent country park.
As well as a pool, wellbeing studio, facilities include a learning resource that can be used by local school children. This explores environmental sustainability, including energy efficiency and natural habitat management, thus educating the next generation to protect their environment and planet.
The project not only supports Doncaster Council’s net zero goals, but also promotes community health and wellbeing in an area which experiences significant health inequalities.
The borough is a former mining community and one of the UK’s more socially deprived areas. The facility aims to increase physical activity and promote access to nature and the outdoors. This will reduce pressure on healthcare services and benefit both physical and mental health.