Dover Leisure Centre



Dover District Council recognised that their existing leisure facility was in need of significant and ongoing investment, so worked with BAM to build a new, state-of-the-art leisure centre. An exciting new asset to the community, facilities includes a fitness suite, spin studio, basketball court, 3G outdoor sports pitches, and the first county-standard, eight-lane competition swimming pool in Kent.


By working closely with the client, we were able to help them refine their project, optimising efficiencies and creating value for money.

The new building also uses a gas combined heat and power (CHP) plant to provide the baseload heat requirements for the pool. CHP is a highly efficient process that captures and utilises heat produced through electricity generation. Although CHP was specified in the original design, we were able to work with Dover District Council to optimise it, with the final unit producing 50KW electric and 8KW of heat.

The ground floor of the building also has underfloor heating, which helps to dry clothes in the wet change areas. But this form of heating is also more efficient for the boilers, as the baseload requirements remain stable and it reduces the need for them to turn on and off frequently.

Building includes 111 roof-mounted solar PV panels,
which provides 30KWp annually. 

Occupant comfort

Advanced lighting controls were installed, with a control panel in reception which allows them to remotely control lighting requirements. For example turning specific lights on or off as required, and pre-set sport settings automatically light courts to the needs of individual sports, eliminating unnecessary lighting use.

The swimming pools were also designed to be north-facing, reducing solar glare to improving user comfort and safety.

Building with occupant comfort in mind


The steel-framed building includes internal glulam beams and eight large, external glulam columns. A total of 116m3 of timber was used in this project, 100% from certified legal and sustainable sources.


Timber from certified legal and sustainable sources

Air tightness

Air tightness plays an important role in providing a healthy, comfortable, and energy-efficient indoor environment. At Dover Leisure Centre, there were both air tightness and acoustic targets to meet, which proved a challenge for the team. For optimal acoustic performance, perforated roof decks were used, but these would negatively affect the building's air tightness. By working closely with the architects and subcontractors, we were able to come up with a solution that satisfied both needs, with the centre achieving an air tightness level of 2.79m3/hr/m2 @ 50Pa on completion.

Air tightness

Working locally 

BAM uses local suppliers and businesses wherever possible, reducing transport impacts and making a positive contribution to the local economy. This project was no different. Even though this was a specialised build, we were able to spend over 50% of the project value in Kent. 

The team worked with a local waste centre just 3.3 miles away. In total, 11,000m3 of material was removed from site and delivered to the waste centre as capping material, and on return, these lorries would deliver recycled aggregates for use on site. 

To reduce disruption to the local communities, we used precast piles instead of traditional continuous fight auger piling. Traditional piling would have needed almost 80 lorry movements for the concrete deliveries and soil removal, but by using precast piles we were able to reduce this to just 16!

Spend of the project value


Anticipating the needs of the building in the future can help reduce waste and resource use, and ultimately cost. During this project, a feasibility study was conducted to forward-plan what facilities might be required from the building. From this, it was decided to extend many of the building services to areas that did not need them now, but may need them at a later date, making any changes easier, and cheaper to implement.

Forward-thinking to what might be needed in the future 

Social value

On all projects we aim to have a net positive impact, making a difference to the lives of people we come into contact with above and beyond business as usual. At Dover Leisure Centre, we created £6.4 million of social value*, 32% of the project value.

This included £6 million worth of social value by supporting the growth of responsible regional businesses. This was achieved by creating opportunities for local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and voluntary, community and social enterprises (VCSEs), and improving staff wellbeing. We were also able to create more than £250,000 worth of value in local skills and employment, for example through the employment of new local apprentices, supporting existing apprentices, providing work placements for school and college students, and upskilling the workforce. We also created more than £5,000 of value, protecting and improving our environment.

* Social value was calculated using Social Value Portal and the National Themes Outcomes and Measures (TOM’s) framework.



Created £6.4 million of social value


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