The Wokingham Paper

Ground breaking: Work starts on eco-friendly Dinton centre

Cllr Parry Batth makes the first dig as part of the Dinton Pastures Activity Centre rebuild, which will be a carbon positive building for the country park Picture: Stewart Turkington

IT’S ONE small hole in the ground, but one big step for the council’s climate emergency targets.

Last week, Wokingham Borough Council broke ground on its first net-zero carbon building, which is being constructed in Dinton Pastures Country Park.

When completed, it will replace the existing activity centre and the council says that its eco-friendly features will help its aim of achieving net-zero carbon emissions in operational energy use.

These include heart pumps, natural ventilation via windcatchers on the roof and solar panels. 
And where possible, a modular construction method is being used, with materials chosen to reduce carbon emissions during manufacturing.

And the two-storey centre will include an activity hall, a coffee shop, a lakeside terrace, meeting rooms, a changing spaces facility and cycle parking.

Cllr Gregor Murray, executive member for resident services, communications and emissions said: “Wokingham Borough Council is ambitious – we have set ourselves a target of being carbon neutral by 2030 and while we have a long way to go, we are well on our way. Not only will the new Dinton Activity Centre be net-zero carbon, it will actually be an energy positive building – the first in the borough.

“The current Dinton Activity Centre takes its energy from the national grid, much of which is generated using fossil fuel (gas) power, which gives off carbon as it is burned.

“The new building will generate all of its own power, using solar panels and heat pumps, and in this case, because of all the other energy efficiency measures that will be installed, even in the winter it will generate more green energy than it uses.

“We are leading the pack with this – so much so that we are hosting an online seminar for the Building Environment Network to share our experiences and lessons learned on building the first local authority carbon-neutral building in the South East.”

And the plans are welcomed by Cllr Parry Batth, executive member for environment and leisure, who says it will be an incredible asset to the borough.

“It will be a new state-of-the-art facility overlooking the lake, with wonderful watersports facilities and fully accessible changing facilities.

“The coffee shop will have an indoor and an outdoor seating area and will also be a draw as we all know how popular the Dragonfly Café across the way is.”

The construction company is Reds10, who also worked on the recent expansion of Addington School in Woodley.

Michael Ruddick, the firm’s director, said: “We are thrilled to be working with Wokingham Borough Council and HLM architects on this project.

“We are challenging what is possible with off-site construction with a non-standard design that not only includes cutting edge eco-technology but also uses external materials and features that will tie the building into the site for a seamless integration of the building with the natural landscape it sits in.”

All being well, it will be pressed into use from the spring of next year, and the existing centre will remain open throughout the construction period, although some car parking will be limited and there will be changes to pedestrian access.

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