As part of a move to reduce carbon footprint and environmental impact, Durham County Council plans to install solar panels at one of its leisure centers.

The Council proposes to undertake the installation of a solar PV system at Freeman’s Quay Leisure Centre, Durham.

Freeman’s Quay Leisure Center is not a historic building but a modernist building made up of three interconnected architectural forms.

A draft and impact statement from the Council states: “Solar modules are to sit on the highest of these three elements on the flat roof, which is bordered by a parapet wall about 1.8 m high.

“The panels will sit between existing skylights and be lower than their height. Therefore, all exterior views of the property remain the same.

“It is also proposed to place solar panels on the lowest of the three elements on the roof immediately above the swimming pool. These will be fitted between the barrel vaulted skylights and the top edges of the panels will still be below the highest point of the property’s roof.

“The system is mounted and ballasted exclusively on rubber plates with steel load carriers in order to protect the roof covering from pointed or point loads and to distribute the load as evenly as possible on the roof

“End plates are fitted to prevent excessive wind from getting under the plates.

The planned installation of the solar modules will be carried out as discreetly as possible.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the elevated panels will not be visible at all from ground level. In addition, it is only possible that the extreme edges of the panels above the pool are visible from the ground, and then only in the immediate vicinity of the building.

“The building itself, despite being within the conservation area, is a modernist building and therefore solar panels would not detract from the appearance of the building.

The entire building is surrounded by other taller Modernist buildings and is not visible from the World Heritage Site, and the building is not in line of sight of any listed buildings.

The panels are temporary in nature and have a short lifespan: for a period of up to 25 years, less than 10 percent of the expected lifespan of the building.

“It will be a fantastic opportunity for the council to show the community how important it is to reduce our carbon emissions.”

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