Gurnell Leisure Centre, located in the London Borough of Ealing, opened in 1981 and is now one of London’s busiest leisure centres, providing one of only four indoor 50m swimming pools in London. Due to increased demand on the leisure centre in recent years and the need for significant repair and investment, it was decided that the existing centre was to be replaced with a flagship, state of the art facility. In order to achieve this, planning permission was sought for the redevelopment to provide a new leisure centre facility, bike track and skate park, up to 498 sqm retail floor space and 615 residential units, with associated landscaping, play space, and cycle and car parking.
Ealing Borough Council had raised concerns that the leisure centre is already located within an area which may experience elevated levels of pollution which have the potential to harm future users of the leisure centre.
There was further concern that people traveling to and from the centre on cars motorbikes, and local bus network may lead to changes in air pollution in the local area.
As part of low energy use scheme and reducing greenhouse gas emissions the development would also provide onsite energy generation onsite, which conversely has the potential to increase levels of air pollution in and around the leisure centre from exhaust stacks located at the top of the new building.
REC was commissioned to undertake a detailed Air Quality Assessment in order to quantify air pollution levels with and without the new leisure centre, to assess any change to local pollutant emissions from and forecast changes in traffic site would not be detrimental to the local area. The assessment also considered a change in land use, where a portion of the site would provide additional housing, to ensure new residences would not be suffering from pollutant concentrations above national limits.
Detailed modelling was also carried out and verified against local monitoring data. The results indicating that pollution levels across the proposed site were below the relevant air quality limits and as such, the leisure centre is considered to be safe for future site users. The assessment concluded that overall impacts on pollution levels at existing sensitive receptors, such as houses and schools were predicted to be not significant.
The New London Plan states that new developments must be considered Air Quality Neutral. Pollutant emissions associated with energy consumption within the development and traffic generated by the development was assessed and compared to relevant benchmarks. This indicated that annual energy emissions were above the benchmark threshold and as such, mitigation measures will be required to curb excess emissions.
REC will be supporting the project in collaboration with the Local Authority meetings to discuss methods that can be adopted to become neutral and assist in the overall improvement to local air quality across London.