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Sport England provides guidance on strategic planning of sports facilities!

Sport England recognises the considerable financial pressures that local authorities are currently under and the need to strategically review and rationalise leisure stock so that cost-effective and financially sustainable provision is available in the long-term.

Sport England has a key role to play in the sector, from influencing the local strategic planning and review of sports facility provision to investing in major capital projects of strategic importance.

The Strategic Facilities Fund is designed to support the sector to invest strategically to deliver the outcomes essential to local communities.

This means starting with local insight and really understanding what the local community needs and wants. It means thinking about a whole area to make sure existing and future facilities will work together – not just looking at an individual building or the needs of an individual sport.

Building the right facilities in the right places makes taking part in sport and physical activity an option for more people and leads to a better experience for those who are already taking part. Sport England want to place the customer at the heart of all their decisions about facilities, both where they invest and where they offer advice.

Tackling inactivity is a major priority with the new strategy and this fund aims to support projects that can encourage people to lead an active and healthy lifestyle.

The key objectives of the fund are:

To encourage the market to be clear about the purpose of their investment, encouraging development of sustainable environments capable of supporting service delivery which delivers against their local outcomes.
To encourage the market to work collaboratively (cross-sector and boundaries) using insight to determine local outcomes, target audience and to understand the behaviour change needed to achieve the outcomes.
To attract capital investment into local facilities, providing new opportunities to encourage people to live healthier and more active lifestyles.

The Strategic Facilities Fund will direct capital investment into a number of key local area projects. These will be identified through a strategic vision and the impact on local outcomes and KPIs clearly identified. Projects that can provide an integrated offer of services and facilities will be prioritised.

Sport England also recognises that some of the biggest increases in activity have been where sport can be located alongside other services, such as schools, libraries or doctors surgeries. This can provide a focal hub for the community.

This funding will further support multi-sport facilities, where families can be active in the same place, ensure year-round use and offer the best return on investment.

Sport England want to make sure that public money invested in facilities will serve local communities for many years to come, so they will rigorously test the business plan for any new facility.

These plans must have clear local outcomes and demonstrate not only a robust return on investment (against outcomes as well as financial) but also cost-effective operating solutions.