Aquatics Centre Manchester Exterior
Manchester Aquatics Centre is tipped for a £31m refurbishment

GM retrofit projects scoop £78m

Sarah Townsend

The Whitehall funding will be used to upgrade more than 150 public buildings including the Manchester Aquatics Centre, helping to cut carbon emissions and create jobs, the combined authority said.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority has been awarded a £78m from the latest round of the Government’s £1bn Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, a grant programme that launched last November and aims to help local authorities decarbonise their estates.

For the GMCA, the grants are planned to fund upgrades to public estate across the conurbation, including leisure centres, schools and offices. Specific estates set to benefit from retrofitting including those of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, Transport for Greater Manchester, Greater Manchester Police, the Royal Northern College of Music and the National Cycling Centre.

Of the total, Manchester City Council has secured the largest borough allocation – around £19m to retrofit 11 council-owned buildings, including the National Cycling Centre, the Aquatics Centre, which is set to undergo a £31m refurbishment, and several other leisure centres in East Manchester, Hough End and Moss Side.

In addition, the Arcadia Library and Leisure Centre, North City Family and Fitness Centre, Wythenshawe Forum, The Sharp Project in Newton Heath, the Space Project in West Gorton and the Zion Arts Centre in Hulme are earmarked to benefit from the retrofitting funding.

These 11 schemes will collectively save an estimated 2,000 tonnes of carbon emissions a year – around 40% of the target saving for council-owned buildings by 2025 – as well as reducing the buildings’ running costs, Manchester City Council said.

The retrofitting measures to be deployed under the project include the installation of new heating systems, such as air source heat pumps; solar panels to generate and create electricity; insulation; energy-efficient LED lighting, and ‘smart’ energy monitoring and control systems within buildings so occupiers can accurately measure their energy usage, according to the GMCA.

The project is part of Greater Manchester’s target of becoming carbon neutral by 2038.

Cllr Andrew Western, the GMCA’s lead for the ‘Green City-Region’, said: “Tackling the climate emergency requires bold and meaningful change at every level, and from all of us. Greater Manchester’s Five-Year Environment Plan set a target of becoming a carbon neutral city-region by 2038, and to meet our goals it’s essential that the public sector leads the way and demonstrates what can be achieved.

“This grant funding will help to reduce carbon emissions from more than 150 public buildings in the city-region.”

The GMCA is also working to retrofit domestic properties through its Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery Scheme. Under this initiative – separate from the Government’s public sector decarbonisation fund – households with incomes of less than £30,000 can apply for grants worth up to £10,000 towards energy efficiency improvements to their properties.

The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, meanwhile, offers local authorities grants of up to 100% of the cost of upgrading public building.

The work is to be carried out in the coming months and decarbonisation measures are expected to be in effect by the end of September.

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