Great facilities 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, Oxfordshire, OX9 3RN          

The days of ‘build it and they will come’ are long gone…

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 facilities for people to become more active – especially when considering the changes in people’s lives and the economic challenges.

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.

Some of the issues   covered at this conference:


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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?


8.30 – 9.15 Registration Tea and Coffee

9.15 – 9.45 Welcome from Chair – Developing enterprising and sustainable community sports facilities Svend Elkjaer, Founder/Director, Sports Marketing Network

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? Based on his work with a large number of both successful and struggling facilities Svend’s presentation will provide thoughts and tools on how we can improve the way we develop and run our leisure and sports facilities.

9.45 – 10.20 The creation of Meadow View Park, Thame

Anna Kocerhan, Projects Director, Sports Solutions GB

Peter Fleming,Chairman, Thame Football Partnership

Meadow View Park is the home of Thame United Football Club and Thame Boys, Youth & Girls FC. It was built in 2010 at a cost of £3.5m on a 22 acre site. Today the clubs have some 530 active players and over 1000 members.

In 2005, Thame United went into administration and lost its ground at Windmill Road in Thame and the junior teams played at various recreational grounds. In 2007 discussions between all interested parties began to explore how the vast army of volunteers and members could create a single facility in the town. With the help of Sports Solution GB, the “dream” slowly began to move tantalisingly close to reality..

In this session Anna Kocerhan of Sport Solutions and Peter Fleming of Thame Football Partnership will take you through the journey from dream to reality of bringing football home to Thame at Meadow View Park. Some 4 years on they will also share the challenges faced in making the fantastic facility a commercial and football success.

Anna Kocerhan is a respected specialist in developing sustainable strategies for local sports clubs.

Peter Fleming joined the Partnership in 2006 in the role of Independent Director to provide a commercial input.

 10.20 – 10.55 Community Sport Hubs – bringing sports clubs and communities together

James Steel, Lead Manager, sportscotland


Community Sport Hubs – as part of our contribution to Legacy 2014, sportscotland has been working with all 32 local authorities across Scotland to establish Community Sport Hubs (CSH) in local communities. In short, CSHs bring together local sport clubs within a community to form a collective. They then work together to establish their needs and improve the sport on offer to their local community, simple! In this session we will provide information on what CSHs are, how they have been created, the role they are playing within local communities and the impact they are having, offering delegates a chance to ask questions.

James Steel has led the creation of Community Sport Hubs from the start, back in 2010. Within his responsibility is also the Club Sport Framework and Direct Club Investment.

10.55 -11.30 Climbing Centres – in converted churches, warehouses or wherever!

John Dunne, Owner, The Climbing Centre Group

John is an internationally renowned climber and has established many world class new routes over the last 25 years. He was instrumental in bringing competition climbing to the UK in the late 1980s.

In 2005 John set up the Manchester Climbing Centre in a former church (built 1878) supported by a grant from Eng Heritage replacing pews with synthetic rock faces and place a cave where once an altar stood. Regeneration does not always equal apartments. He has since and has since established major indoor climbing centres in Harrogate and Reading (the latter in a converted warehouse).

Many new climbing centres have indeed played a key role in inner-city regeneration while providing low-cost, contemporary sports and social facilities.

This presentation will cover how the fast-growing sport of climbing are demonstrating how creativity and community collaboration can help develop sustainable facilities, often at very low cost.

11.30 – 11.50 Tea/Coffee Break

11.50 – 12.25 Developing wasted space within community and leisure buildings

Alex Macpherson, Founder/Director, ADP Project CIC

Over the last five years ADP has worked nationally re-designing and refurbishing all types of properties from scheduled monuments to toilet blocks. Their clients have one thing in common they have limited financial resources and provide their services and goods for the benefit of their local community. They work alongside all stakeholders to help develop wasted space within buildings, as this is becoming more important for their clients to find new ways and means to trade from their capital assets.

The presentation will cover some recent projects including the Asian Women’s Project in Nottingham. where ADP redesigned and refurbished a redundant school into a community and Asian wedding facility. The building includes a female only gym, function rooms and catering kitchen, beauty and hair salon and photographic studio.

They will also cover the Osprey Leisure Centre in Portland where they developed a redundant changing room into a café, kitchen, reception and disabled toilet and two store rooms developed into a family changing / shower room plus a DDA compliant gym.

They will also cover various ‘what if; scenarios including how to bring the facilities to the people, share premises, cross sell products and services and pop up premises.

Alex Macpherson was instrumental in transforming the commercial design business at ADP into a social enterprise.

12.25 – 13.00 Public and private sector partners working together to deliver excellent facilties

Rebecca Clayton, Sports Development & Physical Activity Manager

The Portway Lifestyle Centre is the result of a partnership between Sandwell Council, Department of Health, NHS England, Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, Sandwell Leisure Trust and Sandwell LIFTCo.

The purpose built £18.1million centre opened its doors in September 2013, and now enables the people of Sandwell to have access to improved standards of healthcare and leisure facilities in a specially designed, fit for purpose building, including a GP Practice, four-court sports hall, a hydro-therapy pool for rehabilitation and other therapeutic purposes, a sensory room, a climbing wall, and other sports and health facilities. The entire project was aided by £1.5 million awarded from Sport England.

The project is a real example of the vision and commitment of public and private sector partners working together to deliver excellence for local communities, which will have a positive impact on the health and quality of life of many thousands of people living in the borough.

Rebecca is the Trusts Sports Development and Physical Activity Manager supporting participants to access the facilities managed by the Trust as well as delivering a vast amount of outreach work in response to community need.

13.00 – 13.45 Lunch

 13.45 – 14.10 Over to you – Delegates are discussing specific issues facing sport for development in groups, each covering a different topic. Delegates can choose which group they want to join.  Possible topics covered:

  1. Growing your community engagement
  2. Developing a viable facility
  3. Innovative design or ‘just another sports hall’
  4. Working with non-sport partners
  5. Opening up educational facilities for community use

14.15 – 14.50 Fulfilling opportunities, needs, rationalisation and growth through partnership working

Steve Downham-Clarke, Programme Manager, Bradford College

Chris Spargo, Head of Commercial Services, University of Bradford

The University of Bradford and Bradford College jointly provide a range of educational opportunities for 37,000 students. The 2 institutions whilst located adjacent to each other in the City’s Learning Quarter are separate entities, both delivering Further and Higher Education. A failed merger in 2002/3 has always been an issue strategically until collaboration on a range sporting services demonstrated the effectiveness of successful partnership working.

The presentation will show a timeline development of working together over the past 5 years demonstrating how the organisations have jointly developed new facilities, successfully acquired Sport England funding, jointly programmed service provision, collaborated with other partners, attracted international sports teams and continue to explore ways to enhance services. Improved financial performance, more students on sport related courses and participating, and greater customer satisfaction are the fruits of such an innovative partnership.

Chris has been responsible for the delivery of sport and leisure provision throughout his career in both the public and private sector,

Steven has spent most of his career involved the development of sporting infrastructure and facilities.

14.50 -15.25 How cricket clubs can develop secure, enterprising and sustainable facilities

Tessa Hayhurst, National Funding Operations Manager, ECB

The England and Wales Cricket Board is the national governing body for cricket across England and Wales.  The ECB believes that a healthy network of cricket clubs is essential to the future of the game. Despite record numbers of juniors coming into the game, club cricket is facing a series of social, economic and environmental challenges.  A review of the club game has highlighted the a number of issues, some of which are facility-related:

— Inability of many clubs to make long term plans for a sustainable future

— Lack of growth due to poor access to, and quality of, club facilities

— Growing risk to many clubs’ security of tenure

— Static or falling club income streams

—Damaging effects of rising temperatures and increased rainfall due to climate change.

In response, and following widespread consultation, the ECB has developed a National Club Strategy. This presentation will cover how all ECB-affiliated clubs can plan for a sustainable future through committed club support, based around secure, enterprising and sustainable facilities.

Tessa Hayhurst is National Funding Operations Manager at the ECB.

15.25 – 16.00 Conclusion, Networking and Finish



This entry was posted in Grow Sport. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s