Solar panels

Council commits almost £1 million additional funding for more carbon reduction measures at brand new leisure sites

  • New measures to include solar panels and three additional air source heat pumps (ASHP) at Rivermead and Palmer Park
  • Investment will contribute to the Council’s ambition to achieve a net-zero carbon Reading by 2030

READING BOROUGH COUNCIL has committed a further £976,248 for additional carbon reduction measures on its brand new leisure facilities at Rivermead and Palmer Park, as it works towards a net-zero carbon target by 2030.

The new investment sits alongside the Council’s existing £40m investment in modern leisure facilities for the town, including delivering brand new pools, a modern leisure centre at Rivermead and improvements to existing leisure facilities, by spring 2023. A new community pool and facilities at Palmer Park will open to the public in late 2022.

The Council and its partners have already committed to developing the new facilities to BREEAM Excellent standards (which is the world’s leading sustainability assessment method) and with the use of renewables where possible, as well as putting in place measures to reduce carbon emissions and improve environmental efficiency.

Working with its leisure partners GLL and construction company, Pellikaan, the Council has identified further opportunities to improve the carbon performance of the leisure centres by including additional air source heat pumps (ASHP) and solar capacity.

This is in addition to the existing £1.6m investment already being made into energy-efficient schemes, including:

  • poolside climate controls
  • sports hall climate controls
  • pool covers for heat retention
  • energy-efficient lighting upgrades and controls
  • combined heat and power boilers (CHP) units

Rivermead - new leisure centre aerial view

Cllr Graeme Hoskin, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Health, Wellbeing & Sport, said: "By spring 2023, Reading will boast a 25m 8-lane competition pool with dedicated diving provision at Rivermead and a brand new 25m 6-lane community pool at Palmer Park, linked to existing sports facilities.

“At the same time, taking action on the climate emergency is a top priority for us. We were already committed that the new centres would be constructed to BREEAM Excellent environmental standards and using renewables where possible.  Our measures to reduce carbon emissions and improve environmental efficiency will hopefully make Reading’s new leisure facilities as environmentally friendly as possible.

“This additional investment in solar panels and air source heat pumps will help us bridge the gap between the current standards and what we need to achieve for an ambitious target net-zero carbon Reading by 2030. Key to achieving the target is additional investment to reduce energy use, improve energy efficiency and increase renewable energy generation. It is fitting that we are making this commitment near to the 3-year anniversary of our Climate Emergency declaration.”

Craig Woodward, GLL’s Partnership Manager for Reading said: “This is incredibly welcome news. Alongside the benefits these modern facilities will bring for the health and wellbeing of Reading’s communities, it is equally important we ensure the new facilities are as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible.” 

Two more heat pumps at Rivermead will equate to around a 75% reduction of the carbon emission rate of the new centre’s heating system and at Palmer Park, a 50% reduction of the carbon emission rate of the new pool’s heating system.

Solar panels are already part of the scheme being installed at Palmer Park and the new investment will see additional solar panels used at the Rivermead site.

View further details here:

The new Rivermead facilities will include a 25m 8-lane competition pool alongside a combined teaching and diving pool, due to open in spring 2023. The new Rivermead facilities will include:

  • 25m 8 lane competition pool, with moveable pool floor
  • Splash pad for younger users
  • A combined teaching and diving pool with a moveable floor
  • 25m 5 lane club/swim lesson pool (demountable pool)
  • A café, information hub, and soft play
  • A 6-court sports hall with 250 spectator seats
  • A 120-station gym with 3 studios
  • A new outside play area

The new community pool and facilities will open to the public in late 2022. At Palmer Park, in addition to the refurbishment of the existing stadium building, there will be:

  • A new 25 metre, 6-lane community pool
  • A 100-station gym
  • An activity zone for children with party rooms
  • And a new café and information hub.

For regular updates on the leisure project visit  or follow the Council on social media @ReadingCouncil Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or GLL at @Better_Reading