Knaresborough Leisure and Wellness Centre completes to applause

The new-build Knaresborough Leisure and Wellness Centre completed to applause from both the community and council as it sets the standard for sustainable leisure projects.

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Knaresborough Leisure Centre - Alliance Leisure - ISG

The new-build Knaresborough Leisure and Wellness Centre completed to applause from both the community and council as it sets the standard for sustainable leisure projects.

The new centre delivers a range of wet and dry facilities, with a six-lane 25-metre pool - complete with pool pod - a leisure pool with flume and a 60-station fitness suite, there is also a sauna and steam room, a group fitness studio, an immersive group cycling studio and a café. Outside, a children’s play area constructed from natural materials has been designed to blend in with the surroundings. Electric car charge points and bicycle storage have also been added to encourage sustainable travel. With high-efficiency building materials, air source heat pumps and solar panels, the all-electric centre is designed to achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ assessment rating and will contribute to the council’s vision to have a net zero carbon economy by 2038.

Knaresborough Leisure Centre - Alliance Leisure - ISG

Delivered by leading leisure development specialist Alliance Leisure, alongside ISG and GT3 Architects, through the UK Leisure Framework, the project was handed over to client North Yorkshire Council and operator Brimhams Active in December 2023.

It replaces an existing centre, built in 1990 that was last refurbished 20 years ago. It was inefficient and no longer met the needs of the growing community. Working with ISG and developer Alliance Leisure, the council designed a new centre using mosaic analysis, in collaboration with the community. To maximise council revenue during the build, the existing centre remained open, with ISG engaged from RIBA Stage 2 to develop the design.

Daniel Leigh, frameworks project manager at ISG, said: “Early engagement ensured the best building position considering cost and buildability, and allowed the project partners to develop the design alongside public consultation.”

The centre utilised offsite pool manufacture and features the latest technology to increase sustainability and reduce running and maintenance costs, with 160m2 of PV generating 38 kwh of electricity, LED lighting throughout, two air source heat pump systems, and pool filtration to reduce energy and water consumption by 40%. Carbon output has been reduced by more than 60 per cent, when compared to the previous centre.

It has also delivered significant membership growth for the council, up from 117 members in the old building to 1,322 after just two months in operation. 

Knaresborough Leisure Centre - Alliance Leisure - ISG

Julian Donnelly, project manager at ISG, says: “We have witnessed during the build, at handover and post-handover so many positive comments about the facility; it truly is a building to be proud of. A building that works hard for the community both in operation, and in construction. We have left a legacy of social and economic value, and a leisure centre that encourages people to move and meets the council’s climate change targets.”

The project achieved or exceeded all its social value targets. ISG was able to offer two T Level students from York College placements, work experience for a student from Leeds College of Building, total donations to community projects in excess of £3k and volunteering hours in excess of 50 – the overall highlight for the site team was to host a series of three visits from a local primary school for them to produce a newsletter. 

“The UK’s stock of ageing and inefficient leisure facilities makes a significant contribution to carbon emissions. By collaborating with our partners ISG and ambitious local authorities like North Yorkshire Council to decarbonise its assets, we have created a clean and energy efficient leisure centre to help meet the nation’s net zero targets, and in the long-term will also result in considerable operational savings."

James Foley, Alliance Leisure

ISG’s Daniel Leigh added: “The Knaresborough Leisure Centre project has set the standard for leisure projects – delivering a broad facility mix within an efficient building layout which minimised cost and environmental impact. It also allowed the new building to be constructed within a small footprint whilst maintaining the adjacent existing leisure centre operational throughout. This avoided any impact on centre operations and leisure provision for the local residents.

“The project is a testament to collaboration between all major stakeholders from conception to completion; during construction it maintained high health and safety standards, sustainability and innovation were at the forefront of the pool construction and filtration systems. The site team embraced social value and met and exceeded targets. It can be safely said that this project has left a truly positive legacy on the local community.”

“We now have one of the most energy efficient centres in our market town which will help us achieve our carbon neutral goals while at the same time increasing the leisure offer to our residents and visitors,” says Councillor Matt Walker concluded.

Knaresborough Leisure Centre - Alliance Leisure - ISG
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