Hot on the heels of having been featured on the front cover of the first edition of Sports Nation magazine (ok, it was on the inside page but still the front cover) we are feeling really positive about the future of the sports construction sector. Throughout the publication, there was a real sense of confidence in recovery following Covid-19, with the development and refurbishment of community sports facilities being a central part of the plan to ‘Build Back Better’.
There is so much evidence showing that regular physical activity can reduce the risk of catching Covid by 31% and boost the effectiveness of the vaccine by up to 40%. Such compelling stats can only strengthen the demand for further investment in sports facilities.
In the summer of 2021, the government earmarked £50m towards grassroots football pitches and a further £235m was pledged in the October spending review for new & restored sports facilities. The £22m allocated to the growth of tennis, will see thousands of public park courts that are in poor on unplayable condition being brought back to life.
What is particularly interesting for us is the resounding appetite for a bespoke approach. Marianne Boyle from UK Active wrote that there should no longer be a one-size-fits-all solution for leisure building designs. Sam Orde from Activity Alliance echoed this by emphasising the importance of inclusivity. We should be creating environments that remove the barriers to disabled people being more active and make venues more accessible. Cathy Long from Women in Sport wrote about how venues need to ensure that the space suits everyone. The overriding message was that the key to creating a facility, which has a chance of becoming a community asset, is to engage with the groups who will be using it at the start of the design stage. This is all great for us to take forward into our next projects.
Multi-use sports venues were highlighted as being central to the growth of our sports venue portfolio in the UK, owing to the fact that they are cost-effective and flexible. You can cater for a number of activities in one single space, engage more people and give them more opportunities to be active. Traditionally, they have been used for the bigger-stage sports like tennis, netball, basketball, badminton and hockey but offering a programme of less conventional activities as well (ie volleyball, futsal, walking football and rounders) has the potential to see membership numbers surge among a broader demographic.
With a number of projects already in the pipeline, we’re looking forward to playing our part in the progression of sporting provision for all. “Those responsible for building the country’s physical activity facilities – the members of SAPCA, for example – play a really important part in the sports ecosystem. Without them we simply wouldn’t be able to get on with our job of getting the nation more active.” Nigel Huddleston, Sports Minister