Indoor Leisure Facilities - Draft Strategy & Action Plan

Ended on the 17th January 2021
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3.0 Assessment Findings for Each Facility Type

Introduction

This section sets out the findings from the assessment for each leisure facility type in the strategy scope. It sets out the findings in a table for each facility type, under the four headings of; Quantity, Quality, Accessibility and Availability with specific issues and options identified in the final column.

The table identifies where options apply to all of Central Bedfordshire and in each of the four quadrants. For each facility type there are recommendations under the project, enhance and provide headings and these are carried forward into the action plan.

The scope for the leisure facilities strategy includes:

  • Swimming Pools
  • Sports Halls
  • Netball
  • Indoor Tennis
  • Indoor Bowling
  • Squash Courts
  • Studios (and indoor cycling)
  • Health and Fitness (gyms)


(5) Swimming Pools

The swimming pools assessment is based on the Sport England facilities planning model (FPM) study applying the ANOG methodology to review the current provision of swimming pools in 2018. Then to assess the future demand for swimming pools based on population change across the Council area. As the assessment is catchment area based, it also includes the population and swimming pool sites in the neighbouring local authorities to Central Bedfordshire.

There is a separate and extensive facility planning model assessment report for swimming pools. These findings have been carried forward into the assessment report and the issues and options report for the strategy. These two reports are appendices to the strategy.

The findings from the modelling work, along with consultation findings, have shaped the changes in swimming pool provision developed in the strategy.

The content that follows is, a description of the fpm modelling runs and then a table setting out the findings under each of the ANOG headings

In the FPM work there are eight assessments, and these include options for changes in the swimming pool sites across Central Bedfordshire. These are set out below:

  • Run 1 - supply, demand and access to swimming pools, in 2018. Run 1 provides an assessment of current provision and a baseline from which to measure change.
  • Run 2 - supply, demand and access to swimming pools in 2028, based on the projected increase in demand for swimming pools, from population growth and the committed residential development identified in the Central Bedfordshire Local Plan. It also run includes committed changes in swimming pool supply in the neighbouring authorities. Run 2 also includes the re-opening of the modernised Dunstable Leisure Centre in 2019.
  • Run 2 provides a forward projection of the demand for swimming pools and its distribution, it can be compared to run 1 to identify the scale of change from the baseline
  • Run 3 models a new swimming pool for Leighton Linslade, with a 25m x 6 lane main pool, plus a teaching/learner pool 17m x 10m. The pool site is modelled to open in 2021, the existing Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre Pool remains open in run 3.
  • Run 4 is as run 3 for Leighton Linslade with the Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre Pool closed.
  • Run 5 models a new swimming pool in Houghton Regis, with a 25m x 8 lane main pool, plus a teaching/ learner pool of 17x10m. The new pool is modelled to open in 2023, and on the same site as the existing Houghton Regis Leisure Centre and the existing centre would close.
  • Run 6 models a new swimming pool in the Arlesey area (centred on the Arlesey Cross development). The Arlesey area swimming pool is a 25 m x 6 main pool, plus a learner pool 17m x 10m. The site is modelled to open in 2028.
  • Run 7 models a new swimming pool in the Sandy area (centred on Tempsford airfield) with a 25m x 6 lane main pool, plus a teaching/learner pool 17m x 10m. The site is modelled to open in 2028.
  • Run 7A was undertaken after the findings for run 7 were reviewed. It included a change in the option for locating a new swimming site for Sandy, in Sandy town, not at the former Tempsford airfield site. The option modelled is a 25m x 6 lane main pool, plus a teaching/learner pool 13m x 10m.
  • Run 8 models a new swimming pool in the North Luton area (centred on the North Luton housing allocation). The new site includes a 25m x 8 lane main pool, plus a learner pool of 17m x 10m. The site is modelled to open in 2028.
  • An extensive evaluation of the findings identified that the preferred options for the strategy includes runs 4 and 5. There was not sufficient demand to provide new swimming pools sites in runs 6 and 7and it was decided to review runs 3 and 8 in the early years of the strategy delivery.

QUANTITY

Assessment for Swimming Pools

The assessment includes all swimming pools where there is a main pool of at least 160 sq metres of water a 20m x 8m and 4 lane swimming pool, and where there is community access and use.

If there is a teaching/learner pool on the same site and it is below 160 sq metres of water (as nearly all are) this is included in the assessment, so long as there is also community access and use.

There are also education and commercial leisure centre swimming pool sites in Central Bedfordshire, which provide for some community swimming activities, through membership of the centres and for recreational swimming and these have been included in the assessment on the future provision of swimming pools

There are 10 swimming pools across all providers located at 8 sites in Central Bedfordshire, 4 sites in Chiltern Vale, 2 in Ivel Valley and 1 each in Leighton Buzzard and West Mid Beds. There are options to replace 2 swimming pool sites at a larger scale, replacing older centres in Houghton Regis and Leighton Buzzard

The assessment findings are to, replace the older swimming pool sites in Houghton Regis and Leighton Buzzard. Plus maintain the quality of the Flitwick Leisure Centre and the modernised Dunstable Leisure Centre and Saxon Leisure Centre.

The evidence base assessment does not support retention of Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre swimming pool. There is the opportunity to retain the Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre pool as a community asset transfer (or other arrangement) to either the school of a consortium of local swimming clubs and provide for swimming development and local schools use.

This opportunity, need and viability will be assessed through a feasibility study as part of the strategy delivery.

Ivel Valley

The locations and options considered in Ivel Valley were Arlesey (run 6) and Sandy (Runs 7 and 7A). At both locations there is access to swimming pools which are on the edge of the drive time catchment area of swimming pools in Biggleswade for Sandy and North Herts for Arlesey (more detail under the accessibility heading).

The scale of the demand for swimming in both these areas is insufficient to support provision of swimming pools.

There is an issue that the nearest swimming pools to both these locations, are on the edge of the drive time catchment area for swimming pools and it does rely on car travel to access them; however the level of demand for swimming in these areas does not support a viable business case for their provision.

It is recognised there is potential that further residential development could be made in the Sandy area but as this is not committed it has not been included.

If additional growth is required it may change the need for a small community swimming pool in Sandy, depending on the scale of further development. This should be reviewed in the early years of the strategy

Chiltern Vale and North Luton Growth Area

The option to develop a new swimming pool in the North Luton Growth area (run 8) maybe required but the assessment findings are that this location is not be of the highest benefit to Central Bedfordshire residents.

Also, the impact on the demand for swimming and its distribution from development of the new Houghton Regis Leisure Centre and the modernised Dunstable Leisure Centre has to be assessed.

Potentially one or both of these sites could overlap the catchment area of a new leisure centre swimming pool in the North Luton Growth area and shape the need and scale for a further leisure centre development.

The option for a further leisure centre in the North Luton Growth Area is not progressed in the strategy. Again, however it should be re-assessed once the Houghton Regis and Dunstable centres have an established pattern of use.

Issues and Options

Central Bedfordshire findings

The Central Bedfordshire demand for swimming pools exceeds supply in 2018 by 862 sq metres of water. In run 5 there is still a small deficit of water space with 371 sq metres of water (this totals is slightly larger than a 25m x 6 lane pool).

However this demand is distributed across all of Central Bedfordshire and there is insufficient demand in any one location to consider further swimming pool provision, beyond the options which have been developed.

There is a need to protect and retain the public leisure centres swimming pool sites which are not considered for replacement. (Protect recommendation SW 1)

Leighton Linslade

A local view emerged through consultation identifying the importance of retaining Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre swimming pool as well as developing a new public leisure centre swimming pool elsewhere in Leighton Buzzard.

Retention of the swimming pool is inextricably linked to retention of the sports hall (for which there is a need) and possibly other facilities on site. It is the future of these leisure facilities as a whole that needs to be considered and resolved, not just separate elements.

The option is to undertake a feasibility study to investigate the options for retention of the existing centre with changes in the management and operation, in addition to the provision of a new centre. (Protect Recommendation SW 2)

Chiltern Vale

The future of education swimming pool sites is unknown and there is a need to keep a watching brief on the future of the Ardley Hill Academy swimming pool in Dunstable. It does provide for education use and can provide for community use. (Protect Recommendation SW 3)

Chiltern Vale and Leighton Linslade.

There is a potential issue of the catchment area of the Houghton Regis Centre and the Dunstable Centre overlapping and providing a choice of swimming pool sites for some of the same demand. This may also impact on the Flitwick Centre, with residents currently using that centre migrating to the new Houghton Regis centre, if that is closer to where they live/work.

The modelling has undertaken extensive work on the distribution of demand and still supports the location and scale of the Houghton Regis and Leighton Linslade centres proposed. (Provide recommendation SW 5)

QUALITY

Assessment for Swimming Pools

The average age of the public leisure centre swimming pool sites in 2018 is 30 years. The average of the public leisure centre sites in run 5 is 12 years. This includes the new centres at Houghton Regis and Leighton Buzzard, plus the modernised Dunstable Leisure Centre re- opening in 2019. The new pool sites are modelled to open between 2021 and 2023.

In terms of the scale of the main pools, the changes in the Central Bedfordshire offer are very extensive. In 2018 there are 4 swimming pool sites (across all providers) which have both a main pool and a separate dedicated teaching/learner pool.

The modelling options mean that by run 5 there are new and more extensive public leisure centres in Houghton Regis with a new 25m x 8 lane main pool and a 17m x 10m teaching/learner pool replacing the existing Houghton Regis Centre (1977) with its 20m x 9m 4 lane pool.

At Leighton Linslade there is a 25m x 13m 6 lane main pool and a teaching learner pool of 17m x 10m replacing the Tiddenfoot Centre (1975) with its 25m x 6 lane main pool and a smaller teaching/learner pool of 12m x 8m.

At Saxon Leisure Centre, the Council completed in 2019 a full refurbishment of the swimming pool changing accommodation and replaced all the gala seating

The new swimming pool projects along with the modernisation of Dunstable Leisure Centre and refurbishments at Saxon Leisure Centre, create a very significant and unprecedented change in the quality of the swimming offer, at all the public leisure centre swimming pool sites

All the public leisure pool sites will be able to provide for the full range of swimming activities: learn to swim; public recreational swimming; lane and fitness swimming activities; and swimming development through clubs. Furthermore, this will take place in modern fit for purpose swimming pools with dedicated pools for each swimming activity.

Issues and Options

There are no quality issues concerning the public leisure swimming pool sites. The options for change with development of new public leisure centre swimming pools, means there is a modern stock of swimming pools, which are fit for purpose, can provide for all swimming activities to take place in dedicated pools.

Longer term there will be the need to maintain and modernise the sites, but with an average age of 12 years across the sites, after the changes, this is a long-term requirement. (Enhance recommendation SW 4).

ACCESSIBILITY

Assessment for Swimming Pools

Accessibility is measured in terms of (1) how much of the Central Bedfordshire demand for swimming can be satisfied/met and (2) how accessible are the pool site locations to where Central Bedfordshire residents live?

In 2018, 92% of the Central Bedfordshire total demand for swimming is satisfied/met. This means this level of total demand is located inside the catchment area of pools (across local authority boundaries), and there is enough capacity at the sites to meet 92% of the Central Bedfordshire total demand for swimming.

In run 5 satisfied demand increases to 93% of total demand across Central Bedfordshire. The Houghton Regis site is unchanged and the location of the Leighton Buzzard pool site in East Leighton is a slightly better location in terms of access for residents and the residential development in the Leighton Buzzard quadrant.

The slight increase in satisfied demand may not appear significant, however, the Central Bedfordshire demand for swimming pools also increases, by 10.5% between 2018 and 2028 so the swimming pool supply does have to accommodate considerably more demand for swimming than in 2018 and the 1% increase has to be seen in this context.

Retained demand measure how much of the Central Bedfordshire demand is retained at the pool sites located in the authority. This is based on residents using the nearest pool to where they live.

68% of the Central Bedfordshire total satisfied demand of 92% is retained at a Central Bedfordshire swimming pool in 2018. So the nearest pool to where a Central Bedfordshire resident lives for nearly seven out of ten visits is a swimming pool located in the authority.

It also means, the location and catchment area of the swimming pools in the authority are very well correlated with the location of the Central Bedfordshire demand for swimming pools.

The Central Bedfordshire total unmet demand is 8% of total demand in 2018 and which equates to just 250 sq. metres of water. By run 5 with the new pool sites at Houghton Regis and Leighton Buzzard total unmet demand is 7% of total demand for swimming pools and equates to 259 sq. metres of water. (For context, a 25m x 4 lane pool is between 210 and 250 sq. metres of water, depending on lane width).

Unmet demand has two parts to it - demand for swimming pools which cannot be met because (1) there is too much demand for any particular swimming pool within its catchment area (reviewed under availability); or (2) and which is the accessibility finding - demand located outside the catchment area of any pool.

The major source of unmet demand is from lack of access - demand located outside the catchment area of a swimming pool at 98% of total unmet demand in run 5, however this only equates to 253 sq metres of water - across all of Central Bedfordshire.

Unmet demand outside catchment will always exist because it is not possible to get complete spatial coverage, whereby all areas of an authority are inside catchment. The walking catchment area is only 20 minutes/1 mile. The 2011 Census finding is that 12.7% of Central Bedfordshire residents do not have access to a car.

The key point is not that unmet demand from lack of access exists, but the SCALE, and at 253 sq. metres of water in run 5 it is very small scale. For context Central Bedfordshire has a supply of 2,141 sq. metres of water in 2018 and 4,421 sq. metres of water in 2028, available for community use.

There is no one area/location, where there is a cluster of high unmet demand for swimming that would justify increasing swimming pool provision to improve accessibility for residents.

Issues and Options

Central Bedfordshire

There is very good accessibly to swimming pools for Central Bedfordshire residents. The pool locations / catchment areas / capacity of the pool sites means between 92% - 93% of the total demand for swimming can be met, with 68% of the satisfied demand total, retained within Central Bedfordshire.

Unmet demand represents 7% - 8% of the total demand for swimming by Central Bedfordshire residents. The significant finding is that this is dispersed across Central Bedfordshire and there is no one location that has a cluster of high unmet demand that could justify another swimming pool beyond the options modelled that would improve accessibility for residents and be a viable swimming pool project.

Ivel Valley

The accessibility issue therefore is about improving access to the pool sites for residents who are on the periphery of the catchment area of a swimming pool and do not have enough demand where they live to justify provision of a swimming pool.

As reported, this relates to the Sandy, Arlesey/Stotfold and Shefford areas - they lie between existing pool sites at Saxon Leisure Centre in Biggleswade, Flitwick Leisure Centre and the cluster of swimming pool sites in North Hertfordshire, notably North Herts Leisure Centre in Letchworth. These settlements do lie within the 20 minute drive time to a CB pool/leisure centre, and residents will visit their closest/favourite centre regardless of local authority boundaries.

One option could be to consider a small 20m x 4 lane community pool in one of the areas mentioned, but there is limited justification for this based on demand in these areas - based on the current committed scale of residential development.

Furthermore a business case for such projects would have to consider very considerable revenue support to maintain a pool of this scale in an area where there is limited demand for swimming pools; and provision of any additional pools would simply spread the same level of demand across more centres.

This option has not been supported in the review of the assessment report and the issues and options review.

AVAILABILITY

Assessment for Swimming Pools

Availability is a measure of usage at swimming pools and estimates how well used/how full facilities are. The fpm modelling is designed to include a 'comfort factor', beyond which, the venues are too full. The pool itself becomes too crowded to swim comfortably and the changing and circulation areas become too crowded. The assumption is that usage over 70% of capacity is busy and the swimming pool is operating at an uncomfortable level above that percentage.

In 2018 the estimate is that the pools, as an authority wide average; are 72% full in the weekly peak period. The impact of the projected population increase and increase in demand means estimated used capacity increases to 75% by run 5.

The used capacity for the public leisure centres is above the Central Bedfordshire average: Dunstable Leisure Centre (modernised) (80% of capacity used); Saxon Leisure Centre (80%); New Houghton Regis Leisure Centre (82%); New Leighton Buzzard Leisure Centre (84%) and Flitwick Leisure Centre (77%).

Public leisure centres sites have a higher used capacity than the authority wide average because they have a draw effect. They provide for the full range of swimming activities of: (1) learn to swim; (2) public recreational swimming; (3) lane and fitness swimming activities such as aqua aerobics; (4) swimming development through clubs; (5) the fullest accessibility, in terms of opening hours and access for club and public use; (6) as public leisure centres, there is not the requirement to pay a monthly membership fee to access the pool; and (7) the public leisure centres are proactively managed to encourage and support swimming participation and physical activity.

For all these reasons, the public leisure centre swimming pool sites have a draw effect. The education and commercial pool sites have a combination of: a more limited range of swimming activities provided recreational swimming by the centre membership at commercial pools and swimming club use and other organised swimming at education site.

Issues and Options

Central Bedfordshire, Chiltern Vale and Leighton Linslade

The issue for the public leisure centre swimming pools on availability and swimming pool usage, as reported, leads to the question - should the capacity of the new swimming pool projects be increased to provide more pool space?

The response is, whilst all the swimming pool sites are estimated to be very busy and above the Sport England benchmark of pools comfortably full at 70% of capacity at peak times, the amount of unmet demand from lack of pool capacity is only 2% of the total unmet demand. The 98% (of the 8% of unmet demand) of is from demand located outside catchment and as reported (under the accessibility heading) is dispersed in very low values across Central Bedfordshire.

So increasing the pool sizes at ether of the two new projects, Houghton Regis and Leighton Buzzard, would be driven by the focus on reducing usage at peak times, not the need to meet unmet demand.

To increase the pool sizes beyond those set out would increase capital and revenue costs and with less usage/income, resulting in a worse business case. A more pragmatic approach is to manage the pool programmes to accommodate more usage at off peak times. The focus on the activities with high usage, such as lane and fitness swimming and thereby reduce the usage of the pools at peak times.

Also to manage the swimming pool programmes collectively, across all the sites with different programmes at each site. Not have programmes that provide for the same activities and same demand at all the pool sites at the same time.

So the resolution of the issue overall is to provide the new leisure centre swimming pools in Houghton Regis and Leighton Linslade at the scale set out.


(4) Sports Halls

The sports halls assessment has the same methodology as for the swimming pool assessment, it is based on the Sport England facilities planning model (FPM) study applying the ANOG methodology. It reviews the current provision of sports halls, then assesses the future needs to meet demand for indoor hall sports based on population change across the Council area, including the sports halls and population in the neighbouring local authorities to Central Bedfordshire.

There are eight sports hall assessments, and the content of each assessment is set out below.

  • Run 1 - supply, demand and access to sports halls in 2018. Run 1 includes the new Holywell Middle School Cranfield sports hall which opened in 2018. This run provides an assessment of current provision and how well it is meeting demand. It provides a baseline from which to measure change;
  • Run 2 - supply, demand and access to sports halls in 2028, based on the projected increase in demand for sports halls from population growth and the committed residential development, in the Central Bedfordshire Local Plan. This run includes the committed changes in the supply of sports halls, in the neighbouring authorities

This run also includes: the modernised Dunstable Leisure Centre sports hall, which re-opened in 2019; Henlow (Middle School) Academy sports hall, due to open in 2019; and the Pix Brook Free School (Upper & Middle School) sports hall, due to open in 2020.

Run 2 provides the 2028 forward projection of demand for sports halls and its distribution, based on the impact of the population increases and the changes in supply. It can be compared to run 1, to identify the scale of change from the baseline position in 2018.

  • Run 3 models a new 4 court sports hall in the Leighton Linslade area opening in 2021 and keeping open, the Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre.
  • Run 4 is as run 3, but includes closure of Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre for community use.
  • Run 5 includes closure of the Houghton Regis Leisure Centre in 2023 and opening a new 6 court sports hall in Houghton Regis in 2023, at the Kingsland site.
  • Run 6 includes a new 4 court sports hall opening in 2025 and located within the planned Arlesey Cross development.
  • Run 7 includes a new 4 court sports hall, opening in 2025 and located at the site of the former Tempsford airfield site. On assessing the findings from run 7 it was not progressed because the findings identified the better location for a new sports hall is in Sandy town itself.
  • Run 7A includes closing Sandy Sports Hall for community use in 2027 but the sports hall will remain open for use by Sandy Secondary School. Open a new 4 badminton court size sports hall in 2028 in Sandy town, the new sports hall will be owned by Central Bedfordshire Council and will have full community use/access.
  • Run 8 includes a new 4 court size sports hall opening in 2028 located in the North Luton area (centred on the North Luton housing allocation).

In effect the sports halls modelling and run sequence reflects the swimming pool run sequence with the new leisure centre sites at Leighton Buzzard and Houghton Regis having both swimming pools and a sports halls co-located at one site.

An extensive evaluation of the findings identified that the preferred options for the strategy includes runs 4 5 and 7A with a review of run 6 and 8 during the early years of the strategy delivery.

QUANTITY

Assessment for Sports Halls

The assessment includes all main sports halls of 3 badminton court size or larger, and which are available for community use.

If a venue has a main hall, plus a smaller activity hall, then the smaller activity hall is included. The rationale being, the main hall is programmed for sports which require a large space, for example basketball or netball, and the activity hall is programmed for smaller space sports and activities such as table tennis.

In 2018 there 24 individual sports halls located on 16 sports hall sites in Central Bedfordshire which meet the inclusion criteria.

By run 5 there are 26 sports halls located at 18 sports halls sites. The additional sports hall sites from 2018, include the re-opened modernised Dunstable Leisure Centre in 2019 and the Pix Brook Academy sports hall scheduled to open in 2020.

The total supply of sports halls in 2018, equates to 92 badminton courts. Of this total supply there are 69 badminton courts which are available for community use at peak times (known as the effective supply). The difference is the number of badminton courts aggregated across the education sites which are unavailable for community use.

In 2018 there are 4 sports halls and 3 sites in Chiltern Vale; there are 7 sports halls at 4 sites in Ivel Valley; 5 sports halls at 3 sites in Leighton Buzzard; and 8 sports halls at 6 sites in West Mid Beds.

In 2018 the Central Bedfordshire demand for sports halls, is for 81 badminton courts. Total demand increases to 89 badminton courts, based on the increase in demand for sports halls from the population increase.

Issues and Options

Central Bedfordshire and sports halls on education sites

The biggest issue or conundrum is the supply of sports halls at the Central Bedfordshire education sites and their continued availability for community use This represents, 25% of the total Central Bedfordshire supply aggregated across the education venues.

It is fully recognised that the individual schools and colleges decide on the policy, hours and type of access for any community use. Also it is totally unrealistic to assume the total education supply could become available for community use.

The assessment has included the education sports halls where there is community use and included the full availability of the public leisure centres sports halls. There is a need over the strategy period to keep under review the access to education sports halls for community use (Protect recommendation SH 1)

Retention of the Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre sports hall is important for use by Cedars School. The issue that emerges is also retention of the Tiddenfoot swimming pool which is not required by the school for its PE curriculum. The options for the pool are set out under the swimming pool assessment.

(Protect recommendation SH 2)

Chiltern Vale, Leighton Lineside and Ivel Valley

This assessment supports the new sports hall projects for Leighton Linslade (run 4), Houghton Regis (run 5) and Sandy (1x4-court hall existing or replacement) (run 7A). (Provide recommendation SH 4).

The issue in Arlesey (run 6) is that there are three sports halls in the Arlesey area which are open or about to open: these are the Pendleton Centre 2019 (4 badminton court size sports hall); Henlow Church of England Academy 2019 (4 badminton court size sports hall) and Pix Brook Academy 2020 (4 badminton court size sports hall).

The Pendleton Centre is accessible for community use, based on residents becoming members of the centre. If there is community use at one or both of the other school venues, then there is a sufficient and modern supply of sports halls to meet the demand for sports halls in the Arlesey/Stotfold area. The intention is to negotiate access for community use at these education sites as part of their planning permissions.

Consequently, the strategy intention is to not pursue the development of a new community leisure centre sports hall in Arlesey/Stotfold area. This will be reviewed in the early years of the strategy in line with the access and level of community demand being met at the education sports hall venues

Consideration of need for sports halls in identified smaller settlements

There is the same issue for sports halls as for swimming pools for the Shefford and possibly Cranfield areas, of being within but on the periphery of the 20 min drive time catchment area of sports hall venues in at Saxon and Flitwick Leisure Centres within CB, but also within access of the large number of halls in North Herts and Milton Keynes respectively.

The areas do not have enough demand to support provision of a 4 badminton court size sports hall. This leaves the consideration of a smaller scale sports and community centre, along the lines of the Silsoe Sports Community Centre (the title is significant), defined by the needs of these areas, not just replication of the Silsoe Centre content.

The demand in these areas may be able to support a similar type of centre, however, the inclusion of a sports hall is questionable in terms of viability. There is scope to re-define the Silsoe content and make provision for dance and exercise classes, yoga, pilates and also potentially be a space for community events if this type of facility is not already provided in existing community / village halls.

A centre could also include a small gym with fixed cardio vascular equipment and a free weights area for strength and conditioning.

Consideration of the supply and demand of facilities in the specific areas would be essential to determine if such facilities could be financially viable, deliverable and sustainable (see Health and Fitness in regard to commercial gyms). The strategy could consider this option through a detailed feasibility studies.

(Potential Provide recommendation SH 5)

Ivel Valley and Sandy

The assessment finding is that there is sufficient demand for a 4 badminton court size sports hall located in Sandy town; either the hall at the current location in Sandy Upper School, or at another site. There is no requirement for an additional 4 badminton court size hall based on current housing growth.

There is critical mass of sporting facilities at the current school/Sunderland Road recreation ground location to justify the 4 court hall at this location - as there is the all-weather athletic track, artificial grass and natural grass pitches, plus indoor studio space within the school and Jenkins pavilion, combining to provide a sports hub for the town.

Retention and expansion of this sporting hub is most important and the strategy will develop both options based on which one maximises access for community use. (Provide recommendation SH 6)

Chiltern Vale and the North Luton Growth Area

The development of a new sports hall in the North Luton Growth area (run 8) is not progressed in the strategy. This is for the reasons set out under the swimming pool commentary, but it will be reviewed in the early years of the strategy.

QUALITY

Assessment for Sports Halls

The average age of the 16 sports hall sites across Central Bedfordshire in 2018 is 33 years.

Of the 11 sports hall sites that opened before 2000, nine have been modernised and the unmodernised sports halls are Linslade School (1960) and Manshead Church of England Upper School (1998). So, there is a good track record of modernising the sports hall stock. Modernisation is defined as one or more of the sports hall floors replaced with a sprung timber floor, the sports hall lighting upgraded, or the changing accommodation modernised.

The sport hall offer in terms of the scale of the sports halls is very good and extensive. In 2018 there are 12 sports halls which are four badminton court size (50% of the total supply). This size of venue can accommodate the full range of indoor hall sports at the community level.

There are three 6 badminton courts size sports halls, located at Stratton Upper School (1979 and, modernised in 2009), the Tiddenfoot Centre (1975 and modernised in 2006) and Dunstable Leisure Centre, (modernised and re-opened in 2019). There is one 8 badminton court size sports hall, located at Cranfield University (2008 but this has limited access for community use These larger venues can accommodate multi sports use activity at the same time.

Finally, there are 7 venues which have a main hall of 4 badminton courts and a smaller activity hall on the same site. These venues can programme activities based on the space required for each activity. The large sports hall for sports which requite the full hall such as basketball and the activity hall for small space activity, such as table tennis.

Issues and Options

There are very few quality issues for sports halls. It is quite an old stock of sport halls in 2018 but the average age will be reduced by provision of the new leisure centre sports halls at Houghton Regis and Leighton Buzzard

The sports hall do provide a high quality offer for indoor hall sports, as 50% of the main sports halls are 4 badminton court size. This size of hall can accommodate all indoor hall sports at the community level of participation.

There will be a need to continue the modernisation of sports halls, especially at the education venues, with improvements to changing accommodation, the sports hall flooring and lighting. Pressure on school budgets and likely demands for other and higher education priorities, will mean maintaining the quality of education sports halls will be challenging.

(Enhance recommendation SH 3).

ACCESSIBILITY

Assessment for Sports Halls

As with swimming pools, accessibility is measured in terms of (1) how much of the Central Bedfordshire demand for sports halls can be satisfied/met and (2) how accessible are the sports hall locations to where Central Bedfordshire residents live?

In 2018 a very high 93% of the Central Bedfordshire total demand for sports halls is satisfied/met. This is the total demand for sports halls, located inside the catchment area of a sports hall and where the sports halls have enough capacity to meet 93% of the Central Bedfordshire total demand for sports halls.

The Central Bedfordshire demand for sports halls increases, by 10% over the strategy period and the changes/increases in sports hall supply modelled, means between 91% - 93% of the Central Bedfordshire demand can still access a sports hall.

In short, the quantity, location and catchment area of the sports halls means they are in the right location to meet the Central Bedfordshire demand. There is enough sports hall capacity, to accommodate over nine out of ten visits to a sports hall by Central Bedfordshire residents.

Based on an assumption that Central Bedfordshire residents use the nearest sports hall to where they live, just fewer than seven out of ten visits to a sports hall, by a Central Bedfordshire resident are to a sports hall located in Central Bedfordshire. In short, the location and catchment area of the sports halls ACROSS the authority are very well correlated with the location of the Central Bedfordshire demand for sports halls.

The remainder of satisfied demand is exported to venues in neighbouring local authorities, based on the same criteria, of residents using the nearest sports hall to where they live.

These findings are very consistent with the swimming pool findings and which is not a surprise, as all the public leisure centre sites in Central Bedfordshire, apart from Sandy, have both swimming pools and sports halls.

Unmet demand has two parts to it - demand for sports halls which cannot be met because (1) there is too much demand for any particular sports hall within its catchment area (reviewed under availability); or (2) and which is the accessibility finding - demand located outside the catchment area of a sports hall

The Central Bedfordshire total unmet demand is just under 7% of total demand, which equates to 5.4 badminton courts and is projected to increase only slightly over the strategy period.

The reason for little change is because the options developed for new sports halls in Leighton Buzzard, Houghton Regis and Sandy, especially in Ivel Valley (and which are located very close to each other) offsets the increase in demand for sports halls from population growth.

Overall, there is little change in sports hall locations over the strategy period, so there remains this stubborn demand of just over 5 badminton courts dispersed across Central Bedfordshire which is outside catchment. The Houghton Regis site is unchanged and there is a change in Leighton Buzzard to the East Leighton growth area location.

Unmet demand outside catchment will always exist, because it is not possible to get complete spatial coverage, whereby all areas of an authority are inside catchment, especially in an area as large as Central Bedfordshire and with very dispersed settlements.

The key point is not that unmet demand outside catchment exists, but the SCALE, and at just over 5 badminton courts it is a small total.

There is no one area of Central Bedfordshire where there is a cluster of high unmet demand that would justify increasing sports hall provision to improve accessibility for residents.

Issues and Options

Central Bedfordshire

Overall, across Central Bedfordshire, the sports hall locations are very well correlated with the Central Bedfordshire demand for sports halls, and 93% of the Central Bedfordshire demand lives within the catchment area of a sports hall sports and an access a venue.

The demand which is outside catchment is just under 7% in total, and which equates to just over 5 badminton courts. It is dispersed across Central Bedfordshire, and not clustered in any one location that would justify further provision of sports halls, on grounds of increasing accessibility for residents.

Ivel Valley and small scale sports facilities

For the reasons set out under the quantity heading, there is insufficient demand for a main sports hall in the Shefford and Cranfield areas. Residents are within the drive time catchment for sports halls in CB and North Herts, plus there may be scope for increased community access at the Robert Bloomfield Academy and Sam Whitbread.

The concept of a small local sports and community centre may be considered due to the quantity/demand findings and it would provide much more local access for residents. This could be considered through a feasibility study as part of the strategy delivery.

(Potential Provide recommendation SH5)

Ivel Valley and Sandy

As set out under the quantity heading, there is a need for one 4 badminton court size sports hall in Sandy. In terms of providing the best accessibility it should be located in Sandy town and at the Sandy Sports Centre/ Sunderland Road recreation ground site. The key driver in determining which option to progress will be which option maximises community access.

(Protect / Provide recommendation SH 6).

Chiltern Vale and North Luton Growth Area

There is accessibility to five sports halls sites in the North Luton Growth area but they are all located in Luton Borough. Plus there are options to develop new secondary school sports halls in Luton Borough. The catchment area of these sites will extend into Central Bedfordshire, and provide access for central Bedfordshire residents, if there is community use.

For the reasons set out under the quantity heading plus these accessibility findings, the assessment is not to progress the option of a sports hall in the North Luton Growth Area.

This will be reviewed in the early years of the strategy delivery, based on the patterns and levels of use at Dunstable and Houghton Regis Leisure Centres, and the development of new secondary school sports halls in Luton Borough.

ACCESSIBILITY

Assessment for Sports Halls

As with swimming pools, accessibility is measured in terms of (1) how much of the Central Bedfordshire demand for sports halls can be satisfied/met and (2) how accessible are the sports hall locations to where Central Bedfordshire residents live?

In 2018 a very high 93% of the Central Bedfordshire total demand for sports halls is satisfied/met. This is the total demand for sports halls, located inside the catchment area of a sports hall and where the sports halls have enough capacity to meet 93% of the Central Bedfordshire total demand for sports halls.

The Central Bedfordshire demand for sports halls increases, by 10% over the strategy period and the changes/increases in sports hall supply modelled, means between 91% - 93% of the Central Bedfordshire demand can still access a sports hall.

In short, the quantity, location and catchment area of the sports halls means they are in the right location to meet the Central Bedfordshire demand. There is enough sports hall capacity, to accommodate over nine out of ten visits to a sports hall by Central Bedfordshire residents.

Based on an assumption that Central Bedfordshire residents use the nearest sports hall to where they live, just fewer than seven out of ten visits to a sports hall, by a Central Bedfordshire resident are to a sports hall located in Central Bedfordshire. In short, the location and catchment area of the sports halls ACROSS the authority are very well correlated with the location of the Central Bedfordshire demand for sports halls.

The remainder of satisfied demand is exported to venues in neighbouring local authorities, based on the same criteria, of residents using the nearest sports hall to where they live.

These findings are very consistent with the swimming pool findings and which is not a surprise, as all the public leisure centre sites in Central Bedfordshire, apart from Sandy, have both swimming pools and sports halls.

Unmet demandhas two parts to it - demand for sports halls which cannot be met because (1) there is too much demand for any particular sports hall within its catchment area (reviewed under availability); or (2) and which is the accessibility finding - demand located outside the catchment area of a sports hall

The Central Bedfordshire total unmet demand is just under 7% of total demand, which equates to 5.4 badminton courts and is projected to increase only slightly over the strategy period.

The reason for little change is because the options developed for new sports halls in Leighton Buzzard, Houghton Regis and Sandy, especially in Ivel Valley (and which are located very close to each other) offsets the increase in demand for sports halls from population growth.

Overall, there is little change in sports hall locations over the strategy period, so there remains this stubborn demand of just over 5 badminton courts dispersed across Central Bedfordshire which is outside catchment. The Houghton Regis site is unchanged and there is a change in Leighton Buzzard to the East Leighton growth area location.

Unmet demand outside catchment will always exist, because it is not possible to get complete spatial coverage, whereby all areas of an authority are inside catchment, especially in an area as large as Central Bedfordshire and with very dispersed settlements.

The key point is not that unmet demand outside catchment exists, but the SCALE, and at just over 5 badminton courts it is a small total.

There is no one area of Central Bedfordshire where there is a cluster of high unmet demand that would justify increasing sports hall provision to improve accessibility for residents.

Issues and Options

Central Bedfordshire

Overall, across Central Bedfordshire, the sports hall locations are very well correlated with the Central Bedfordshire demand for sports halls, and 93% of the Central Bedfordshire demand lives within the catchment area of a sports hall sports and an access a venue.

The demand which is outside catchment is just under 7% in total, and which equates to just over 5 badminton courts. It is dispersed across Central Bedfordshire, and not clustered in any one location that would justify further provision of sports halls, on grounds of increasing accessibility for residents.

Ivel Valley and small scale sports facilities

For the reasons set out under the quantity heading, there is insufficient demand for a main sports hall in the Shefford and Cranfield areas. Residents are within the drive time catchment for sports halls in CB and North Herts, plus there may be scope for increased community access at the Robert Bloomfield Academy and Sam Whitbread.

The concept of a small local sports and community centre may be considered due to the quantity/demand findings and it would provide much more local access for residents. This could be considered through a feasibility study as part of the strategy delivery.

(Potential Provide recommendation SH5)

Ivel Valley and Sandy

As set out under the quantity heading, there is a need for one 4 badminton court size sports hall in Sandy. In terms of providing the best accessibility it should be located in Sandy town and at the Sandy Sports Centre/ Sunderland Road recreation ground site. The key driver in determining which option to progress will be which option maximises community access.

(Protect / Provide recommendation SH 6).

Chiltern Vale and North Luton Growth Area

There is accessibility to five sports halls sites in the North Luton Growth area but they are all located in Luton Borough. Plus there are options to develop new secondary school sports halls in Luton Borough. The catchment area of these sites will extend into Central Bedfordshire, and provide access for central Bedfordshire residents, if there is community use.

For the reasons set out under the quantity heading plus these accessibility findings, the assessment is not to progress the option of a sports hall in the North Luton Growth Area.

This will be reviewed in the early years of the strategy delivery, based on the patterns and levels of use at Dunstable and Houghton Regis Leisure Centres, and the development of new secondary school sports halls in Luton Borough

AVAILABILITY

Assessment for Sports Halls

Availability is a measure of usage at sports halls and estimates how well used/how full facilities are. A sports hall with over 80% of capacity used at peak times is considered very full.

The assessment finding is the sports halls as a Central Bedfordshire average are 69% full at peak times. The interaction of the increases in sports hall demand from population growth along with the increases in sports hall supply and the draw and attraction of modern new sports halls in Central Bedfordshire, means the estimated used capacity of the sports halls increases to between 71% and 72% based on the different options modelled.

These findings are based on the full hours the public leisure centres are available and the variable hours of availability for community use at the education sports halls.

The public leisure centre sports halls do have a higher estimated used capacity than the authority wide average with findings in the 90% - 100% at peak times. This is because they have the draw effect from (1) the fullest availability for indoor hall sports for club and community use (2) they are not restricted for public use in day times as the education venues are (3) they are promoted to develop participation in sport and physical activity (4) they are modern venues and have a wide range of other facilities on site.

The education sport hall stock is older than the public leisure centre stock The older education venues do have lower estimated used capacities, Linslade School (1960) used capacity of 64%; Alameda School (1990 and modernised in 2007) used capacity of 51%; Harlington School (1970 and modernised in 2004); and Redbourne School (1960 and modernised in 2006) used capacity of 45%.

The draw and attraction of modern sports halls in Central Bedfordshire increases the amount of demand that is imported from neighbouring authorities and becomes part of the used capacity of the Central Bedfordshire sports halls. Imported demand ranges between 12% - 15% of the used capacity of the Central Bedfordshire sports halls.

Whilst the sports halls are estimated to be very busy and above the Sport England benchmark of comfortably full, the amount of unmet demand from lack of sports hall capacity is only between 1 - 2 badminton courts. The vast majority of unmet demand as set out under the accessibility heading at around 90% of total unmet demand is demand located outside the catchment area of a sports hall.

So increasing the size of the public leisure centre sports halls is driven by reducing usage at peak times and not the need to meet unmet demand.

Given the assessment findings and that high used capacity is the key finding, then a more pragmatic approach, is to manage the sports hall programmes to accommodate more usage at off peak times.

Issues and Options

Central Bedfordshire, Chiltern Vale Leighton Linslade and Ivel Valley

As with swimming pools, the findings on availability leads to the question and issue should the size of the leisure centre sports halls be increased to provide more capacity?

The response is, whilst all the sports halls at the public leisure centres are estimated to be very busy and above the Sport England benchmark of sports halls being comfortably full, the amount of unmet demand that cannot be accommodated is only between 1 - 2 badminton courts, and this is not concentrated in one area.

So the high usage is driven by the demand at peak times and the resolution of the issues is by programming of the sports halls, to accommodate more usage at off peak times, not increase the size of the sports halls.

As already set out under the quantity heading it will also be important to monitor the continuing availability at the education sports hall sites for community use. Especially the availability of the education sports halls in the Arlesey area, as they can meet the demand for community use, if community access is secured.


Netball

QUANTITY

Assessment for Netball

Netball was included in the project scope as it requires both outdoor and indoor courts to support all year-round play.

Netball participation in Central Bedfordshire is increasing, there are 3 main leagues: Bedford & District Netball League, with 71 teams playing in this league and there is also a junior league which has over 30 junior teams. Heritage Netball League has 35 teams playing in this league and this includes Hertfordshire. The Dunstable District Netball League has 23 teams playing in this league In 2019 four back to netball sessions started across Central Bedfordshire along with one walking netball session.

England Netball's view is there is a need to provide more sports hall time for netball and support netball programmes, for example the 'Back Into' programmes and Walking Netball. These programmes provide for women who are not regular participants and a sports hall is better venue than outside courts to promote participation.

So, at a strategic level, establishing netball as a core sport for sports halls provides stability for use of sports halls, with real potential to increase netball participation.

There are no quantity findings for netball in terms of a dedicated supply. Netball has traditionally been played on outdoor all-weather courts but the governing body is promoting/advocating more court time in sports halls.

Issues and Options

The biggest issue for netball is about provision and access to 4 court sports halls and establishing netball as a regular part of the sports hall programme.

So it is less about quantity and more about access to existing sports hall venues, with dedicated time to develop netball with dedicated time for local netball leagues.

QUALITY

Assessment for Netball

In Central Bedfordshire there are 12 sports halls which are four badminton court size (50% of the total supply) and which is the size of venue required for local netball league play and community participation. Each quadrant does have at least one sports hall of this size.

There are three 6 badminton courts size sports halls and one 8 badminton court size sports hall These larger venues can accommodate up to county standard netball competitions, if they have spectator seating.

Issues and Options

There are few quality issues regarding the sports hall use for netball. The sport prefers a sprung timber floor and some of the older sports halls (pre 2000) have solid floors.

Also some of the 4 court halls have dimensions of 33m x 18m which provide limited run off space behind the court. Most of the newer sports halls have dimensions of 34.5m x 20m which are the dimensions for a 4 court hall recognised by Sport England, England Netball and other governing bodies.

ACCESSIBLITY

Assessment for Netball

The number and catchment area of the Central Bedfordshire 4 court sports halls does mean there is good accessibility to venues based on locations and travel times.

Having netball as part of the PE curriculum does mean there is good access to education venues - during daytime as part of the sports hall programme.

Issues and Options

The biggest access issue is to secure committed time in the sports hall programme, to enable development of local league play and community participation, with dedicated time.

One option is to develop netball centres at education venues where there are fewer sports/activities competing for court time in the same peak period.

(Enhance Recommendation NT 2)

Investigate the development of a netball centre located at the Samuel Whitbread Academy in Shefford.

Recommendation NT 3

Investigate the development of a netball centre located at The Van Dyke Academy in Leighton Buzzard.

AVAILABILITY

Assessment for Netball

Netball requires a sports hall to be available weekday winter evenings between 6pm - 9pm for both league play and community participation. The sport requires all of a 4 court hall to play netball. The sport competes with other sports in the same peak times for court time. The cost of hire with other activities able to pay more does limit the availability of sports half for netball.

Issues and Options

The accessibility and availability issue for netball are one of the same - securing committed time in the sports hall programme, to enable development of local league play and community participation, with dedicated time.


Indoor Tennis

QUANTITY

Assessment for Indoor Tennis

There are no indoor tennis centres located in Central Bedfordshire. Seven of the 8 neighbouring local authorities to Central Bedfordshire have indoor tennis centres, the exception being South Cambridgeshire. In total there are 9 indoor tennis centres with a total of 42 indoor courts. The largest centre is the Milton Keynes David Lloyd Club, which has 3 individual tennis centres, with 3 acrylic courts 2 artificial grass courts and 13 textile courts, so a total of 18 indoor courts.

There is not one consistent source/methodology to calculate the demand for indoor tennis. The Lawn Tennis Association 'Priority Project Funding, Policy and Operational Procedures', states that one indoor court can serve 200 regular tennis players.

The Active People surveys undertaken by Sport England 2006 - 2016 provides data on the level of participation in indoor tennis. Appling the East Region figure of 0.22% to the Central Bedfordshire adult population) in 2018 of 233,900 people generates 514 adult indoor tennis players. Based on all 514 players playing at least once a week, this could generate participation of 514 visits. This would equate to provision of 3 indoor courts, based on the LTA measure of 1 indoor court equating to 200 players.

This scale of provision does equate to the provision in the neighbouring local authorities, apart from in Milton Keynes where there are 5 permanent courts and 13 temporary indoor courts.

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) indoor tennis strategy, announced in June 2019, identified demand for potentially 72 locations within England for indoor tennis centres.

The target locations have been prioritised according to the number of potential players in each area, with demographic profiles of the population for each target community used to ensure new facilities are developed in a way that also helps to broaden the participation base of the game.

Issues and Options

Central Bedfordshire

The quantity assessment identifies a potential demand for between 2 - 3 indoor tennis courts with Central Bedfordshire. The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) indoor tennis strategy, announced in June 2019, identified demand for potentially 72 locations within England for indoor tennis centres, with two potential locations within Central Bedfordshire: Luton/Dunstable (ranked number 20); and Biggleswade (ranked number 66).

West Mid Beds (and Ivel Valley).

Flitwick and Ampthill Tennis Club has 8 outdoor all-weather courts of which 4 are floodlit. The club is looking to expand and possibly relocate to expand and improve its facilities. To create viability for an indoor tennis centre, an option is to develop with an existing and well established outdoor tennis club so as to provide critical mass and build on the knowledge of managing tennis facilities

The strategy will investigate with the LTA the feasibility to provide an indoor tennis centre as part of the Flitwick and Ampthill Tennis Club or the viability of a new location within the Dunstable/Luton priority area identified by the LTA. The LTA's second priority of an indoor tennis centre in Biggleswade, will also be considered as part of this study.

(Potential Provide recommendation IT 1)

QUALITY

Assessment for Indoor Tennis

As there are no indoor tennis centres in Central Bedfordshire there are no quality findings to report.

ACCESSIBILITY

Assessment for Indoor Tennis

Five of the neighbouring local authorities have indoor tennis centre and the 20 minute drive time catchment area of these centres when combined, means all of Central Bedfordshire is within the drive time catchment area of between 1 -2 indoor tennis centres.

The indoor tennis centres in neighbouring local authorities are: Aylesbury Vale 1 centre and 6 courts; Bedford 2 centres and 6 courts; Dacorum 2 centres and 4 courts; Huntingdonshire 1 centre 3 courts; Milton Keynes 1 centre and up to 18 indoor courts (with a temporary air bubble in summer) and North Herts, 1 centre and 3 courts.

Issues and Options

Central Bedfordshire

There is access to indoor tennis centres for Central Bedfordshire residents in all the neighbouring local authorities, except South Cambridgeshire. This is based on the 20 minute drive time catchment area of these centre locations and the coverage of these centres means all of Central Bedfordshire is within the drive time catchment area of 1-2 centres.

Overall there is limited geographical accessibility for Central Bedfordshire residents and the centres are membership based. These findings reinforce the benefits of a Central Bedfordshire indoor tennis centre that provides for both committed players and casual participation.

AVAILABILITY

Assessment for Indoor Tennis

All the centres in the neighbouring local authorities are owned and operated by either sports clubs or commercial organisations. So availability is for people who are members of the sports club, or the commercial indoor tennis centre. There is no availability for pay and play by non-members of the centres.

Issues and Options

Central Bedfordshire and West Mid Beds

The issue on availability is that none of the indoor tennis centres in the neighbouring local authorities as reported provide access for pay and play.

This does limit the participation by Central Bedfordshire residents because the centres will only appeal and be available to residents who are prepared to take out a membership and therefore want to play on a regular basis.

The availability finding provides more rationale for an indoor tennis centre in Central Bedfordshire as part of an established outdoor club, so there are opportunities or learning how to play as well as coaching to improve performance.


Indoor Bowling

QUANTITY

Assessment for Indoor Bowling

The extensive 2016 Central Bedfordshire indoor bowling study has been reviewed and updated.

Dunstable Leisure Centre before modernisation included a 6 rink indoor bowling hall. In the re-development for the refurbished leisure centre/library, the Council considered the re-provision of a permanent indoor bowls green. However, the requirement to accommodate the library service made this difficult and the financial implications of constructing a bowls green and the forecasted usage/income, together led to the decision to exclude the indoor bowls hall

The Council was very aware that closing the indoor bowls facility would affect the current club and casual bowlers of the leisure centre facility. The Council sought to explore options to mitigate the impact of this closure on the current Dunstable clubs. This was by supporting bowlers to participate at the centres closest to Dunstable, in effect the Luton indoor bowling centre. There are other centres in Harpenden Watford, Bletchley Bedford and Stevenage. However realistically, only the Luton centre is within the 20 minute drive time catchment area of the Dunstable centre

Overall there is enough capacity at the Luton and other centres to absorb the Dunstable bowlers and other Central Bedfordshire residents who wish to bowl. The change since 2016, is that the Luton centre has a new short-term lease until 2022 but its long-term future is not assured. Closure of this centre would remove any indoor bowling provision in the Luton/Central Bedfordshire area.

Issues and Options

Central Bedfordshire

The biggest issue for indoor bowling is that, whilst there is an increase in the Central Bedfordshire population in the main age group for bowling (65 - 74), and hence a potential bigger market, there is a decrease in the popularity of the sport with declining memberships at clubs.

In short, population increase in the indoor bowling population main age group is being offset by declining rates of participation, all clubs have spare capacity. Just over 1% of men aged 60 - 74 participate in indoor bowling in 2018 and less than 1% for females.

Initiatives have been taken to introduce a younger age group into bowling, especially in the recently retired (55 - 64 age group) by clubs but without much success.

Re-provision of an indoor bowling centre in Central Bedfordshire was not supported by the trends in participation at the time of the 2016 study, nor updated to today.

In quantity, accessibility and availability the Luton indoor bowling centre is the only venue for Central Bedfordshire residents in the southern part of the authority. The future of this centre is assured until 2022 by the granting of a new lease.

In theory residents in the northern part of Central Bedfordshire can access the centres in Bedford. However this is realistically limited to residents who are within a 20 minute drive of the three Bedford centres.

Given the declining participation in indoor bowling the option is to monitor participation levels, nationally and developments at the Luton centre. There is the opportunity in 2022 to review and the option to develop a joint feasibility study by both Council's into the future provision for indoor bowling.

QUALITY

Assessment for Indoor Bowling

As there are no indoor bowling centres in Central Bedfordshire there are no findings on quality to report.

ACCESSIBILITY

Assessment for Indoor Bowling

The catchment area for an indoor bowling centre is up 20 minutes' drive time. The centres within this catchment in the southern part of Central Bedfordshire are located in Luton, Harpenden Watford, Bletchley and Stevenage. To the north of Central Bedfordshire there are 3 indoor bowling centres located in and around Bedford.

Central Bedfordshire residents can access one or more of these centres, but evidence from Sport England is that there is a significantly less participation by bowlers who are in the 10 - 20 minute travel band. So as with the quantity findings the accessibility findings are that the only realistic centre for bowlers who participated at Dunstable is the Luton centre.

Issues and Options

Enhance Recommendation IB 1

Keep a watching brief on the provision of indoor bowling centres in neighbouring local authorities and the opportunities for Central Bedfordshire residents to participate.

AVAILABILITY

Assessment for Indoor Bowling

All the indoor bowling centres mentioned, apart from the Stevenage centre, are member owned and manged clubs. The Stevenage Centre is the same as the former Dunstable centre in that it is located in a public leisure centre with the local authority responsible for the overall cost of maintaining the centre, with the bowlers organising the programme of use.

There is no track record in Central Bedfordshire of a members owned club and so no experience amongst Central Bedfordshire bowlers of the responsibility for managing a centre.


Squash

QUANTITY

Assessment for Squash

There are 22 squash courts located at 10 venues within Central Bedfordshire in 2019. There are 5 courts in Biggleswade 4 courts in each of Flitwick and Houghton Regis/Dunstable, 3 courts in Shefford and 2 courts in each of Sandy, and Leighton Buzzard. The two the MoD venues are only available for private use.

The highest provision is at Biggleswade Rugby and Squash Club, which has 4 courts. There are 7 glass back courts and 15 normal courts.

Six of the venues are owned by Central Bedfordshire Council and have a total of 12 courts, 4 glass backed and 8 normal courts, this represents 54% of the total supply. Access to the local authority courts is for pay and play and the only other pay and play venue is Cranfield University, which also has 2 courts.

Issues and Options

Central Bedfordshire

The key issue is squash participation itself - will it continue to decline or stabilise?

Central Bedfordshire seems to have bucked the trend and noticeably there are seven squash venues that opened in the 197O's squash boom and that remain open today. Testament to retention in squash participation in Central Bedfordshire over seven decades.

The overall assessment is that for pay and play, there is a good distribution of courts at centres across Central Bedfordshire. Supply is meeting demand and there is no need for further provision. This supply should however be protected, to ensure there are continuing opportunities to play squash.

(Protect recommendation SQ 1)

Ivel Valley

An option for squash, is in terms of squash development with the Biggleswade Rugby and Squash Club, which has 4 courts. The Biggleswade club organises internal leagues, a range of club competitions, and participates in the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire squash leagues.

England Squash consider Central Bedfordshire an important area for squash because of the demographics. The Governing Body is trying to stimulate squash participation and development and the Biggleswade club provides an opportunity.

A 3-court venue is required to deliver festivals, team squash, junior coaching and local junior competitions that form the first level of the England Squash Talent pathway, a 4-court centre can also host school regional events.

The strategy will investigate with England Squash and the Biggleswade club, the scope to develop a squash development centre which can host regional level competition, and improve standards of play, especially by younger players.

(Enhance recommendation SQ2).

QUALITY

Assessment for Squash

Seven of the venues opened in the 1970's which was the start of the boom is squash participation. This decade provides the vast majority of the Central Bedfordshire squash venues.

The oldest venue is Biggleswade Rugby and Squash Club, opened in 1970, the most recent squash court venue to open is Flitwick Leisure Centre in 2016.

There are 7 glass back courts and 13 normal courts. There are no venues which have movable walls and there are no venues with spectator seating.

ACCESSIBILITY

Assessment for Squash

There is no one squash court venue, which includes all of Central Bedfordshire, within the 20 minute drive time catchment area of its location. However, taking a north venue Biggleswade Rugby and Squash Club, a central venue Flitwick Leisure Centre and a southern venue, Houghton Regis Leisure Centre, and the 20 minute drive time catchment area of each venue, this does identify that all of Central Bedfordshire is inside the drive time catchment area of at least one centre, and for most of the authority at least 2 venues.

AVAILABILITY

Assessment for Squash

Six of the venues are owned by Central Bedfordshire Council and have a total of 12 courts, 4 glass backed and 8 normal courts, this represents 54% of the total supply. Access to the local authority courts is for pay and play and the only other pay and play venue is Cranfield University, which has 2 courts.

The one club venue is Biggleswade Rugby and Squash Club which has 4 courts and is available through membership of the club.


Studios

QUANTITY

Assessment for Studios

The project brief includes provision for indoor cycling on fixed machines, known as spinning. Spinning is one function/activity of studios and rather than assess the need for spinning, it is more valid to assess the need for all sports/activities that take place in studios, so the assessment is for studios.

Studios provide for dance/exercise classes, yoga pilates and increasingly there are dedicated studios for activities such as kick bowing or spinning.

There are 26 individual studios located within Central Bedfordshire and which are split between three types of providers. There are 8 studios provided at the Central Bedfordshire leisure centre sites (30% of the total supply), there are 10 studios provided at school/college/higher education sites (39% of the total supply) and there 8 studios at commercial sites (30% of the total supply).

As studios serve a variety of purposes from dance, exercise and fitness classes, aerobics, pilates, yoga and spinning, there is no one source of data that defines or collects participation "in studios".

Issues and Options

Central Bedfordshire

The key issue is how to assess the future demand for studios, when the range of activities they provide for is so diverse. It can be up to 10 different types of activities that change frequently.

This is compounded by the emergence of specialist studios which provide for one activity - immersive studios - which is a fixed cycling workout in a digitally created world and which is developed/promoted by brands, e.g. Les Mills UK. So a particular type of dedicated studio for one activity.

The challenge is knowing if this type of provision is a fad or if it is the start of a long term trend and the need for a dedicated type of studios

Also understanding the participation profile for the full range of activities that take place in studios is a challenge. The age range is from 12 to 70+, with younger ages doing the dance exercise/spinning activities through to older people doing yoga and pilates. This is however too simplistic, and there is blurring, with increasingly all ages doing all activities.

Developing a Central Bedfordshire demand and participation rates in this dynamic changing environment is very challenging.

The best option and way forward is to monitor the programmes and classes at the leisure centres, given provision seems to be demand led. If there is a sustained demand for classes or particular types of activities over time, and which cannot be met the current supply of studios, or, by changing the programming to accommodate more classes, then this identifies the need for more studios.

This is the "adaption approach" adopted at Flitwick Leisure Centre, which opened in 2016. The demand for studio activities since then, has led to conversion of parts of the building and the centre now has 5 studios - based on sustained demand and the business case for provision.

(Protect recommendation ST 1)

In terms of new leisure centre projects, the strategy will review the profile and performance of studios at the other Central Bedfordshire leisure centres - over time. The demographic profile of participation, the frequency of participation and the frequency of change in the different types of studio activities. Plus any changes in the supply of studios by other providers in the same catchment area.

This knowledge will be used to inform the scale and type of studio provision in the feasibility study and overall business case for studios in the new leisure centres.

(Provide recommendation ST 2)

QUALITY

Assessment for Studios

The average age of the studios, for which there is an opening date is known, is 16 years. The most recent studios to open are located at Etonbury Academy/The Pendleton Centre and Old Bank School, both opened in 2018.

Most studios opened in the 2000 decade, with 8 studios opened, followed by the post 2010 decade when 6 studios have opened. Modernisation of studios requires replacing/ upgrading the floor surface, lighting and sound systems.

ACCESSIBILITY

Assessment for Studios

There is at least one studio site located in all the main settlements within Central Bedfordshire. Most studios are located in the Leighton Buzzard area with 7 studios and the Houghton Regis/Dunstable area with 6 studios.

AVAILABILITY

Assessment for Studios

All of the public leisure centre studios are available to residents by membership of the centre.

At the education venues, studios are available for community use on a pay and play basis, Cranfield University, Linslade School, Redbourne Upper School, Stratton Upper School and Vandyke Upper School. At the Pendleton Leisure Centre (Etonbury Academy) the studio is available to residents who are members of the centre.

Overall 18 of the total 26 studios, which is 69% of the total supply are available to residents either through membership or on a pay and play basis.


(1) Health and Fitness

QUANTITY

Assessment for Health and Fitness (Gyms)

Sport England defines health and fitness suites as those facilities providing fitness stations for both cardiovascular and strength training, more commonly known as gyms.

In 2019 there were 20 health and fitness centres, located at 20 sites in Central Bedfordshire. They provide a total of 1,012 health and fitness stations, so an average of 50 stations per venue. The largest health and fitness centre is DW Sports Fitness in Dunstable with 150 stations.

The public leisure centres have 120 stations at Flitwick Leisure Centre, 100 stations at Dunstable Leisure Centre, 102 stations at Saxon Leisure Centre, 55 stations at Houghton Regis Leisure Centre and 30 stations at Sandy Sports Centre and 30 stations at Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre.

The public leisure centre sites have a total of 437 stations, which is 43% of the total number of stations.

There are 9 commercial venues which have a total of 447 stations, which is 44.1% of the total supply. The largest commercial gym, as reported, is DW Sports Fitness in Dunstable, followed by Energie Fitness Club in Leighton Buzzard with 68 stations.

So a near balance in the number of gyms and stations between the public leisure centres and the commercial gyms.

The next largest commercial gyms after DW Fitness are much smaller scale, Bannatynes Health Club with 47 stations and Anytime Fitness in Leighton Buzzard with 45 stations. The other 5 commercial gyms are not national gym chains but small-scale independent gyms, with an average of 27 stations per venue.

The size of the settlement across Central Bedfordshire demonstrates that apart from Dunstable, and to a much lesser extent Biggleswade and Leighton Buzzard, the size of the settlements are not big enough to attract the national and low cost gym providers.

There are 3 gyms which are located at educational institutions and these have a total of 79 stations and only the Central Bedfordshire College with one venue and 25 stations available for community use.

There are 2 gyms located at Ministry of Defence sites and which have a total of 39 stations but are unavailable for community use.

Of note, is that there are no sports clubs which have a gym. Again reflecting the scale of Central Bedfordshire settlements, and there are no major multi sports clubs of a sufficient scale, to provide a gym for the club membership and wider community use.

The oldest gym is located at Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre and was part of the Centre when it opened in 1975. Two gyms opened in the 1980's, three in the 1990's, five in the 2000 decade and then nine post 2010. The increasing provision over the decades reflects the increasing popularity of gyms. The most recent gym to open and which is available for public use, is the modernised Dunstable Leisure Centre.

Issues and Options

Central Bedfordshire

The biggest issue for gyms is assessing the future demand for gyms and participation levels across Central Bedfordshire and over the strategy period.

Firstly, the very nature of the type of activities; indoor cycling five years ago was part of the fixed cardio vascular equipment in gyms, then it became an activity in itself and the growth in provision of spinning studios and now it has advanced again with immersive cycling studios.

So is there is a case for saying indoor cycling is now a particular type of activity and the provision is separate from gyms and as a dedicated studio? Will this evolution stop/change again or decline in popularity?

Secondly, there is the very dynamic and competitive changes in the type, scale and membership pricing of gyms. National providers have a very precise product that is targeted at specific demographic and income groups. Gym provision today is very different from 5 years ago and will change in the next 5 years.

These trends and changes make long term strategic planning for gyms very challenging.

The demographic profile for gym participation is comparatively settled and the projected changes in all the demographic groups is set out extensively in this assessment report.

So assessing what the future demand for gyms could be is the easier part. The more challenging part, is defining over a long-term period what the type of gym provision will be - then who is providing it and based on what commercial strategy?

Of significance is that no new commercial gyms have opened since 2013. The most recent gyms to open are at the modernised Dunstable Leisure Centre (2018) and Flitwick Leisure Centre (2016).

The stability in the number and scale of gyms, plus the absence of more commercial gyms, especially the low cost providers, suggests most strongly that supply and demand for gyms is in balance across Central Bedfordshire at present

Chiltern Vale Ivel Valley and Leighton Linslade

It is very clear that gym provision will be integral to the development of new indoor leisure centres at all the sites, Leighton Buzzard, Houghton Regis and Sandy, from both a need created by participation and demand and as integral part of the business case.

Smaller scale settlements

Gyms would be an essential part of any smaller scale sports/community facility, however, consideration of the viability, deliverability and sustainability would be required. Consideration must include the operation of the facility - outside of Dunstable and Houghton Regis no commercial operator has located in CB as the more rural and smaller populations do not support their financial model. This raises questions regarding the financial viability of operating a small facility.

Consideration of the need for smaller scale facilities would have to consider the detailed feasibility of participation trends, trends in the type of gym provision, commercial judgements on changes in gym equipment and crucially the viability and business case for each individual project. (Potential Provide recommendation H and F 1)

QUALITY

Assessment for Health and Fitness (Gyms)

Five of the seven centres opened pre 2000 have been modernised the two unmodernised are on MoD sites and there is no information or public access.

Of the five 2000 - 2009 decade centres, two have been modernised. Modernisation includes, for example, upgrading changing accommodation and or providing a health suite. It does not include equipment replacement /upgrading which occurs on a 3 year cycle at most of the commercial and public leisure centre sites.

Overall, five of the seven centres opened pre 2000 have been modernised and those that have not are on MoD sites and there is no information or public access. Of the five 2000 - 2009 decade centres, only 2 have been modernised. Modernisation includes, for example, upgrading changing accommodation and or providing a health suite. It does not include equipment replacement /upgrading which occurs on a 3 year cycle at most of the commercial and public leisure centre sites.

ACCESSIBILITY

Assessment for Health and Fitness (Gyms)

The drive time catchment area for regular gym participation is up to 20 minutes travel time. Most of the southern and western side of Central Bedfordshire are within a 15 - 20 minute drive time catchment area of the Dunstable Leisure Centre site and there are also 6 other gym sites in part of this same catchment area

The Saxon Leisure Centre site 20 minute drive time catchment area extends to the north of the Central Bedfordshire boundary and also overlaps slightly with the Dunstable Leisure Centre site drive time catchment area. There are 3 other health and fitness centres in the northern part of Central Bedfordshire, one in Biggleswade and two in Sandy.

Overall, all of Central Bedfordshire is inside the 20 minute drive time of a health and fitness centre. In the Chiltern Vale, West Mid Beds and Leighton Linslade quadrant residents have access to at least 5 centres and in the Ivel Valley quadrant there is access to 2 - 3 centres.

AVAILABILITY

Assessment for Health and Fitness (Gyms)

As reported, of the total 1,012 stations, 437 stations, 43% of the total supply, are available at local authority leisure centres. For residents who wish to use a commercial venue, there are nine sites and they have a total of 447 stations, 44% of the total supply.

The largest commercial gym and which are part of national gym providers are located in Dunstable, and Leighton Buzzard. The other commercial gyms are small scale and are provided by independent operators, they are available in the main settlements in Central Bedfordshire.

Of note is that Flitwick, Dunstable and Saxon's are the biggest sites after DW Sports Fitness. They provide much more sporting critical mass than the commercial centres as they also provide other facility types - e.g. studios and swimming pools.

So the health and fitness offer at these centres is integrated with other types of provision that appeal to the same customers as for gyms, notably female ages 16 - 49, and who also have high participation rates in swimming and dance/exercise classes. So there is a much more rounded offer at the public leisure centres gyms, than at the free standing gyms. Other than price of membership, this will be the biggest appeal and draw in choosing which gym to use.

There are no sports clubs which have a gym which is of a scale to be available for wider community use. Again this reflects the scale of Central Bedfordshire settlements, and the absence of major multi sports clubs of a sufficient scale, to provide a gym for both club membership and wider community use.

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