With a renewed interest in netball and basketball, there’s been a move to deliver regional centres, often linked to universities and colleges, that offer the prospect of hosting emerging new and existing leagues.
Even though netball remains primarily an outdoor sport, there is a renewed impetus to provide outstanding indoor centres for local leagues and the superleague, largely I suspect on the back of the Commonwealth Games success, when England beat world champions Australia in the final.
Basketball is also making a comeback, in fact many would suggest it’s never gone away, especially in our urban communities.
Sports England and others continue to strive to increase participation and there’s been a major push to achieving operational economies of scale.
As a result, the traditional sports centre offering either four badminton courts and one basketball or netball court may in future be supersized to host pay-and-play leagues, with seating, multi-use and multiple badminton courts.
In fact, I am finding that even schools are increasingly aspiring to at least six badminton court venues, with independent schools investing in new facilities designed to be multi-purpose spaces rather than just for sports. Roll-out seats, draping and a focus on creating auditoriums ensures that these new spaces offer the maximum flexibility of use and value for money.
State school sports provision is often found to be wanting and non-compliant even with Sports England’s requirements for community sport. I have visited many secondary schools with more than 600 pupils that do not meet the requirements of the Department for Education’s own guidance for sports hall space contained in BB103.
The arrival of the Government’s new Sugar Tax, which will put an estimated £520m in the Department for Education to fund sport, could be just the boost that many local authorities and academies need to ensure they meet BB103 and BB104 guidance when developing new sports facilities.
What’s happening more and more is that the old crinkly tin sports centre, once hidden from view at the back of a leisure centre or school, is being redeveloped. They are now coming more into public view as a statement of a public commitment to sport and wellbeing.
There’s greater interest in contemporary structures and even putting them in sensitive sites, which requires design-led architecture and aesthetics.
Sustainability in terms of the environmental performance of the new breed of sports centres is well and truly on the agenda. BREAAM ‘very good’ or ‘outstanding’ is now almost the norm, with solar PV and air permeability being built-in to the design.
Posted on | by Lee Batten