Great places for community sport and physical activity…where, how, who?

A conference which focuses on how best to develop facilities which increases the number of active people in an enterprising and sustainable way

30th April 2014 Meadow Park Conference Centre, Thame FC, Oxfordshire,

Real stories and successes to be told, lessons to be learnt, ideas and experiences to be shared

Have you got a great story to tell? Get in touch


There are a number of significant and varied issues facing community sport and physical activity when it comes to identifying, creating and/or developing great places for people to become more active – especially when considering the changes in people’s lives and the economic challenges:

Many underused and unsustainable facilities are simply not managed well enough. A good facility does not guarantee increased participation. How do we ensure that our facilities are run as welcoming and sustainable enterprises?

  1. Often the investment goes into the facility on its own with funders applying a ‘built it and they will come’ mentality and little thought is given to how the facility and its management are going to interact with its community. We need to give serious consideration to how our facilities can become more than ‘just places for community sport and physical activity’ and become real hubs for their communities.
  2. We are seeing an increased number of cases where ‘pre-loved’ buildings such as empty warehouses, factories and even churches are forming the base for low-cost and innovative solutions. Often planning issues are major obstacles for the change of use, so how can we help local clubs and community enterprises to overcome the hurdles of red tape
  3. There is considerable debate as to how to revitalise our high streets and city centres as an increasing number of shops are standing empty. We are seeing gyms opening in London near Tube stations; what about boxing clubs in former banks or table tennis centres in former fashion stores? Could community sport and physical activity be involved in developing new initiatives for our high streets and city centres?
  4. Yes, we have a huge number of tired and dated facilities out there. From club houses to leisure centres. Some require just some tidying up and a lick of paint whereas for others complete refurbishment is the only way to move forward. Perhaps, sometimes for political and historical reasons, we are too scared to close down centres which are now in the wrong location or due to changes in lifestyles simply no longer can be made viable.
  5. There are also seems to be considerable scope for providers of community sport and physical activity to work closer with non-sports partners from health, education and regeneration to co-locate. Could we run places for community sport and physical activity in joint facilities with our community health centres? How do we encourage more schools, colleges and universities to open their sports facilities for community use?
  6. The way many organise their sport and physical activity is changing with self-organised activities becoming more common as are more ‘fun’ based activities. How are we adapting our facilities to people’s changing lifestyles and new ways of being active?
  7. This growing trend towards self-organised sport and physical activity has also meant that more people are using Mother Nature and parks as their ‘sports facility’. A number of enterprises are now offering classes outdoors with great success. How do we work together with our parks managers and organisations such as the National Trust and Natural England?

So, there are indeed a number of opportunities and challenges. But a crude debate where the mantra ‘let’s spend some more money’ is increasingly becoming redundant is not providing any solution.  We need a more sophisticated approach where we learn from others and share best practice. This conference is the first step in that direction.


This one-day event will provide lots of examples of best practice of identifying, creating and/or developing great places for people to become more active. Different solutions from different environments by different people.

Delegates can learn from others and adapt ideas to suit their own environment. Pick up helpful insights, learning from people themselves and the providers who have been successful.

 We hope people will leave the event knowing they have heard some great ideas, learned a few things and feeling determined to make changes “back at the ranch”.  

 Delegates will come from architects, the health sector, governing bodies of sport, local authorities, county sports partnerships, community enterprises, commercial fitness clubs, and community trusts, education and regeneration.

Have you got a great story to tell?

Have you developed solutions to the challenges and opportunities mentioned above?

If you feel you have a great story to tell, or if you know of one, please do contact Svend Elkjaer on 01423 326 660 or


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