Dorcan Netball

Netball Dome Is First Of Its Kind In The Country

The challenge

A team of netball enthusiasts and volunteers in the Swindon borough were frustrated by the poor provision of facilities, which was precluding the growth of their sport.    


The solution

They needed to pull together an exceptionally strong bid for funding from England Netball and the local council, positioning the proposed new fabric structure as a flagship project that will result in a centre of excellence for netball talent development programmes at a regional and national level.


Key facts 

  • Largest funding ever awarded by England Netball
  • 36.6m x 36.5m x 11.15m
  • Pavilion with changing rooms
  • Turnkey project incl. groundworks
  • Retractable steel clad sides

Project overview

It all started in 2003 when England Netball awarded the largest grant they had ever given of £400,000 to build a new indoor netball venue at Dorcan Recreation and Leisure Centre. The grant came about via funding from Sport England, as part of the Community Club Development Programme.  It was intended that the state-of-the-art structure would not only significantly improve the standard of training facilities in Wiltshire but become a benchmark for more centres to open in other parts of the country as part of long term plans to nurture home-grown talent and introduce more people of all ages and abilities to the sport.

This grant was matched by funding from the Swindon Borough Council who acknowledged that the venue would also hugely benefit the provision of sport at neighbouring Dorcan Academy and bring more opportunities for the local community to come together and get active. 

The process of getting planning permission took several years but once we got the green light, we were able to get stuck in straight away, having won the contract to carry out the full turnkey project from groundworks to lighting.  They already had 6 outdoor courts but all were in need of repair so we planned to cover three of them to create a space housing two indoor courts and a pavilion with viewing area, changing rooms and office space.  The other three outdoor courts were given a full makeover.

With security a concern, it was decided to design the structure with retractable steel clad sides that fold back over each other, much like you would see in an aircraft hanger.  When they are open, they allow plenty of natural ventilation to circulate but when closed, they offer additional protection from vandalism.

Work took place during the wet winter months, which caused a few delays to the schedule as the land is on a flood plain made up of clay soil but this was not the only challenge to overcome.  Fortunately, we love a challenge!  

Access was also an issue as this was intended to be via a bridge that turned out to be structurally unstable.  £150k of the original funding therefore had to be invested in creating a new access point.  The significant budget cut meant that the sealed surface tarmac we recommended had to be replaced with a porous tarmac instead, which is prone to drawing moisture out of the ground and creating condensation.  A few years on and with a renewed budget available, the facility manager chose to invest in a heating system that would eliminate the damp.

The structure itself is still standing strong almost 20 years on and is enjoyed by teams in the Swindon & District Netball League, the local corporate league and mixed netball league.  Not only has the new centre introduced netball to so many more people in Wiltshire, including the older generations who are now regularly taking part in walking netball sessions, it now regularly hosts county, regional and national matches. 

England Netball chief Mrs Avery said, “So successful has this project been that another four centres are planned for other parts of the country.”

Centre manager Stuart Arthur said, “This will improve the standard of what is available and during our typical British winter, this facility will be packed.  It will also make training more appealing and comfortable for the juniors”

Netball is traditionally a winter sport so regular players are used to braving the elements but the inclement weather and bad light can significantly restrict play.  This facility will guarantee training and matches all year round.

Lawn goal shooter Kerrie Easey said, “In the winter it was awful – we played in wind, rain, hail and snow. The new centre is a phenomenal place and being undercover is great!”