Indoor Leisure Facilities - Draft Strategy & Action Plan

Ended on the 17th January 2021
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5.0 Monitoring and Review

It is recognised the strategy is a series of recommendations Central Bedfordshire Council to consider consult on adopt and then deliver the strategy. Given the current status then the monitoring and review section focuses on the key evidence base requirements that need to be reviewed and updated.

Monitoring and review of the strategy is as important as the creation of the initial strategy. Monitoring is essential if the strategy is to successfully deliver improved provision of indoor leisure facilities over the long term. Monitoring and review represents the final stage in the Assessing Needs and Opportunities Guidance produced by Sport England.

The needs assessment report that provides the evidence base for the strategy are from data compiled in 2018 and 2019. This does provide a robust evidence basis on which to evaluate current and future supply, demand, access and availability to the facilities, It is however essential to keep this under review and to monitor changes, and the implications of these changes.

Priorities will change over time as the strategy is delivered and new issues and challenges emerge. Furthermore, it is essential to evaluate the implications of actions taken and the knock-on effect on the overall strategy and its associated priorities. While the strategy vision should therefore remain consistent over the defined period, the action plans should be dynamic and responsive to change.

Monitoring and review tasks are:

  • Ongoing monitoring of changes to the database. This is usually regarded as an onerous and tedious task. However for all the facility types included in the strategy Sport England does update the database for each facility type as part of either (1) their annual update of swimming pools and sports halls for facility planning model purposes or (2) for the other facility types as part of the continuous update of Active Places Power.

The Active Places Power database for all the facility types is available on line to the Council. In effect therefore it is not about reviewing and updating data but much more about ensuring that an officer in the Council is: aware of the Sport England Active Places Power database, knows how to access it and understands how the database works and can interrogate the data.

In effect, it is an electronically updated source of data for the facility types in the strategy (and other facility types), which can be accessed and manipulated for any particular purpose from now on. Should the Council wish to undertake a refresh of any findings for any facility type then it will be important to use the latest database but also do a bespoke review of the data at that time.

  • Assessing the impact of demographic changes and new population estimates. The needs assessment and strategy is based on the Council's own bespoke population and its distribution across Central Bedfordshire. The Council will be updating and projecting forward over a long term period its population projections. Plus there is also the anticipated need to consider and include residential development to that already approved and included in this strategy. Should the population projections change significantly, and if there is significant new residential development over and above that included in the strategy, then the assumptions about demand should be reviewed
  • Reviewing participation/frequency of participation rates. The needs assessment is based on Sport England and National Governing Bodies of Sport participation and frequency of participation rates. This is based on Sport England's own research and the data from Active Lives. Sport England does regular updates of participation rates for swimming and indoor hall sports and there are very minor changes to these rates

Over a longer-term review, of five years ahead, it will be important to review and use the participation rates for specific sports and for specific facility types. The findings in the strategy on facility needs are valid within a 5% change in participation up or down. It is unlikely that there will be this magnitude of change It will still be important however to monitor the changes in the rates and frequencies of participation as there can be specific changes caused by the popularity of particular activities. This is evidenced in the strategy in relation to studios and health and fitness.

Monitoring the delivery of the recommendations and identifying any changes that are required to the priority afforded to each action. This is the most important part of monitoring and, in effect, it is monitoring the delivery of the strategy. It is assumed that Central Bedfordshire Council will take the responsibility for doing this work. It should be an annual review, set against the facility specific recommendations. An annual review against progress and delivery of projects, set alongside changes, which have arisen, is the suggested approach. A refresh of the major findings, delivery and directions set in the strategy could be undertaken in 5 years' time, or, in line with any local planning reviews and the need to update local planning policies

Investment and Funding

Central Bedfordshire where successful in achieving investment from Sport England towards the phase I investment programme of its Leisure Facility Strategy.

In December 2015 the Government published Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation. This set out a bold and ambitious direction for sport policy and looks beyond simple participation to how sport changes lives and becomes a force for social good. Sport England's Strategy was launched in May 2016 in response to Sporting Future. Sport England vision is that everyone, regardless of their age, background or level of ability, feels able to engage in sport and physical activity.

Underpinning Sport England's strategy is a behaviour change model and a set of investment principles. These investment principles have been developed into a Strategic Delivery Model process, which provides a framework for understanding needs and capital and other interventions. Sport England future investment will be based on the principles of Sport England's Strategic Delivery Model. The approach is shown in the figure below and advocates the development of a joint local vision and agreed priorities and outcomes.

In delivering phase II of its indoor Leisure Facility Strategy it will be important to develop this partnership approach. The Council are already engaged with Sport England, adopting this approach towards the potential re-development of Houghton Regis.

Figure 5.1: Sport England Strategic Funding Delivery Model

Figure 5.1

Given the potential level of funding required for phase II to refurbish or re-develop the leisure facility infra-structure across the rest of Central Bedfordshire it is therefore likely that investment will only be achieved through a combination of opportunities.

The main funding delivery mechanisms are likely to be:

  • Council funding. Including capital, use of capital receipts from the sale of assets and contributions from the developers through S106.
  • Central Bedfordshire Council operates a successful system of securing s106 contributions from developers to support the provision of new leisure centres and the continuous improvement and diversification of existing centres, required to keep pace with the demands of growth and changing customer needs. The council accesses the Sport England Sports Facility Calculator to calculate the level of s106 to be sought from each development. The Sport England Calculator accesses data from the strategy, combined with Sport England's Active People data and facility cost guides, to generate an accurate contribution relevant to the area, project and development scale. The council will continue to use the Sports Facility Calculator to calculate contributions while identifying relevant and appropriate projects to which contributions will be used.
  • Capital Grant funding from national agencies such as Sport England based on the approach outlined in figure 5.1 and the Football Foundation. National Governing Body (NGB) support could also be available to develop specific specialist facilities, although capital through NGBs has reduced significantly since the previous Strategy
  • Capital financing through the partnership with the Councils operators; and
  • Prudential Borrowing or 'spend to save'. The local authority may still choose to use revenue savings to borrow monies direct for capital development, which is more often than not cheaper than an operator.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), also provides further funding opportunities.

The previous Strategy set out planning policies for inclusion in the Local Plan. These policies set out a robust approach to assessing needs that used national methodologies and was policy compliant. This updated Strategy provides similarly robust evidence in line with national guidance, against which to secure investment against the needs and priorities set out.

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