The views of local people have been expressed through the council’s ‘Your Sport, Your Vision, Your City’ residents online survey 2020, and through various discussions with local stakeholders, sports clubs, national governing bodies of sport, and voluntary organisations and associations.
Initial consultation with internal and external stakeholders
The key messages from the initial consultation were:
- facilities are showing their age
- there's a need for more ambitious offer for young people such as soft play/adventure play and gymnastics
- any new investment must ensure flexibility in space
- any swimming offer needs to provide a better balance of water provision and activities
- there's a need for better social spaces within facilities
- National Governing Bodies (NGBs) recognise that there are opportunities to improve participation in a range of key sports
- there is a need to retain the current capacity of sports halls across the city
- all new investment must consider physical adaptation and service enhancements for people with disabilities to ensure that the user experience is improved
The online survey was available on Brighton & Hove City Council’s website. It ran for a total of nine weeks from Monday 16 November 2020 until Sunday 17 January 2021. A total of 1,474 valid responses were received.
There was overwhelming support to improve the facilities.
The data from the consultation also showed that:
- significantly more females (62.1%) completed the survey than males (33.9%)
- 52% of respondents had taken part in 30 minutes or more of physical activity, on 4 or more occasions, in the past week.
- the King Alfred Leisure Centre was the most visited facility in the city
- The largest number of responses were from people aged 45 to 54 (32.4%). 30% were aged over 55, whilst only 2.9% of young people aged 16 to 24 responded
- 37.19% of respondees had either never visited or only visited a facility once in the last year
- 46.6% of people preferred to drive to the council's sport facilities
The top 4 priorities highlighted to improve the frequency of use
1265 people (86.5%) said improving the current sports facilities in the city would make them go more frequently. 671 (47.4%) said improving the cleanliness of the facilities would help, whilst 620 (43.8%) mentioned improving maintenance.
607 people (42.9%) said improving the facilities for the type of activity or sport they're interested in would increase attendence. 542 (38.3%) would be tempted if there was an increase in the type of activities on offer.
518 people (36.6%) said that the cost of access to the facilities would have an impact on how regularly they would go.
359 respondents (25.4%) mentioned improved car parking facilities as a factor. 206 (14%) people said that changing the location of the facility, to make it easier to get to, would encourage them to use the facilities more.
Over 83% of respondees agreed with the statement that: “The council should replace some of the older sports facilities in the city with better designed, more modern, more efficient, new ones.”
King Alfred Leisure Centre
34.2% of respondents wanted the council to keep the current facility and improve it. Most respondents (41%) wanted the council to provide a new facility in the existing location. 8% wanted a new facility in a new location. 11.6% did not express an opinion.
Prince Regent Swimming Complex
57.9% of respondents want the council to improve the facility but keep it in its current location. There was not much difference found between those respondents who wanted a new facility in the same location (10.2%) as opposed to those who wanted it in a different location (9.4%). 24.4% were not able to decide.
Withdean Sports Complex
23.6% of respondents felt that the facility did not require large scale improvements, whilst 32.7% want the council to improve the facility.
Portslade Sports Centre
25.9% of respondents wanted improvements to the facility. 60.5% of respondents didn’t express a view.
Moulsecoomb Community Leisure Centre
21.6% of respondents wanted the council to improve the current facility. 68% did not express a view.
Stanley Deason Leisure Centre
Only 18.9% expressed the view that they wanted the council to keep the current facility and improve it. 69.7% did not express a view.
St Luke's Swimming Pool
A relatively small number of respondents (18%) wanted the council to keep the facility and improve it. 68.5% did not express a view.
Travelling to a facility
65.2% of respondents were happy to travel further for better facilities and activities, but the majority would prefer to travel no more than 20 minutes. 48% would travel 10 to 19 minutes to get to a good facility, 26% would travel 20 to 29 minutes.
Sporting hubs and community sport facilities
66.7% of respondents agreed with: “The Council’s vision for three new large sports facilities serving different parts of the city supported by some of the current smaller community facilities”
The top priorities for a new sporting hub were:
- a main swimming pool (84.8% of respondants)
- a teaching pool (57.1%)
- leisure water (52.6%)
- café facilities (62.4%)
- dance/aerobic studio (60.2%)
- a large gym (56.8%)
- a 6 to 8 court sports hall (53.4%)
- an activity or multi-purpose hall (51.7%)
The top priorities for a community sports facility were:
- a dance/aerobic space (63.3% of respondants)
- a small gym (56.5%)
- café facilities (52.8%)
- a multi-purpose hall (51.8%)
- a 4 to 6 court sports hall (51.5%)
There were a wide variety of sports and activities mentioned in the ‘other’ responses some of which relate to the retention/improvement of existing facilities and others new sport or activity spaces. A number of these have been considered as part of the demand and supply analysis. Others will need to be reviewed as part of detailed feasibility and business case reviews.
Consultation with local stakeholders - sports clubs and associations
The council has a role to play in reducing health inequalities and improving the infrastructure that enables further improvements to residents’ physical and mental health.
There are further opportunities to improve collaborative working with sports clubs and partners, the council and the Leisure Operator.
There is widespread support for a better standard of provision to support club development and improving the opportunities for hosting competitions, developing the city’s talent and promoting elite performance. This can be achieved through further investment into the stock of sports facilities in the city, with a mix of local and sport specific investment supplemented by the outdoor environment.
Larger sports facilities and sporting hubs
Residents and sporting clubs recognise that the current stock of provision is dated and requires improvement.
Community sports provision
People are looking for a broader range of activity which takes place within their local area
Supply and demand
An extensive analysis of current and future supply and demand for sports facilities in the city has been undertaken. This focused on both traditional and non-traditional forms of activity using a wide variety of data sets and sources of information.
The current demand for pool water in the city exceeds supply. Any closure or loss of a facility will result in a significant pressure on the remaining facilities for use for public and club swimming. A new competition sized swimming pool facility measuring 25m x 17m (8 lanes) is considered an essential element for any new provision within the city.
Demand and usage of sports halls is high and close to capacity. It will be important to ensure that any future investment at least maintains and potentially increases the number of publicly accessible sports halls within the city. Future access can also be supported through more formal community use agreements with the city’s schools.
Artificial grass pitches (AGP)
The Local Football Facility Plan (February 2020) notes that the geographic spread of existing facilities in the city is uneven with the greatest gaps in provision in the west and northern areas of the city. The council’s facilities at Withdean, King Alfred and Moulsecoomb have all been identified as priority locations for some form of small sided provision. At King Alfred this would be linked to a future indoor football (Futsal) offer.
There are currently no purpose-built gymnastics facilities in Brighton & Hove. British Gymnastics (BG) is working with local clubs in Brighton & Hove to support grass roots development but it has not as yet identified a scheme that it may support through funding. Gymnastics is particularly popular with young people, especially young girls. In addition, regular research is undertaken into demand that shows a national waiting list of 1.5 million participants and an annual growth of 10% year on year in activity levels.
The council’s operator, Freedom Leisure, has indicated that there is potential for adding gymnastics provision within an existing centre to provide dedicated space to develop the gymnastics/trampoline offer to a wider market.
Health and fitness
The market for health and fitness providers is highly competitive in and around the city. There is still evidence of the additional demand for fitness membership across the city which can be realised through further investment in council provision.
In response to changing patterns of use, flexible studio spaces offer a complementary option to traditional gym spaces and any future investment should seek to include these as part of future design proposals.
Withdean Sports Complex provides good facilities in the city for athletics although requires some improvements.
Existing facilities in the city are meeting demand. Given the overall income performance for squash there is slight overprovision based on the historical patterns of demand. There is an opportunity to rationalise provision for alternate uses.
The city’s indoor tennis facility at Withdean Sports Complex is well located and remains popular. The council has been moving away from direct provision for tennis and working towards establishing new management agreements with designated clubs.
The supply of artificial grass pitches is deemed sufficient to meet demand for hockey both now and in the future. This is based on the retention of the existing sand based facility at Stanley Deason Leisure Centre.
Basketball and Wheelchair Basketball
Basketball England identifies an existing shortfall of around 2 basketball courts necessary to meet forecast demand by 2029. It considers this can be achieved through suitable investment in additional sport hall space.
Since the indoor bowls facility at the King Alfred Leisure Centre closed, the users have relocated. With current levels of demand being met, there is an adequate supply to cater for the future levels of demand.
Ten pin bowling
There is a total of 52 lanes within a 25-minute drive time and there is not sufficient additional demand to support further provision.
Ice rinks require more than 30% of the population to be aged under 24 years. Whilst the current population is marginally above this figure, they will make up a smaller proportion of the overall population in future years. Ice rinks have high operational costs and the energy footprint they generate through operations may be at odds with the city’s priorities around its climate agenda. The overall risk associated with provision is considered to be too high to outweigh any benefit.
Children’s soft play
The choice for indoor soft play facilities is limited across the city. Given the location of the existing soft play facilities there is potential unmet demand to come from those communities living to the north and west of the city centre. Finding suitable locations in these areas would therefore appear a viable solution.
There are currently three indoor climbing facilities located in the city offering broadly similar offers. To increase the levels of participation there is scope to add an innovative clip and climb offer to broaden the appeal for families.
The link between trampolining and gymnastics has been traditionally strong. It is suggested that the option for taking part in trampolining would continue as part of a modern structured gymnastics offer.
TAG Active is a relatively new product to the leisure market, aimed at getting people active through a non-traditional sporting activity. It is a multi level assault course designed to appeal to a wide age group and family market. However, the data indicates the usage is mainly in the evenings and weekends with minimal daytime usage.
Where it works best is by retrofitting poor performing sports spaces to create better revenue streams. In this way running costs are kept low with minimal additional staffing and savings in related utility costs.
Future Need - What does this mean for Brighton & Hove?
The supply and demand assessment undertaken suggests that successful investment will require a combination of new build and refurbishment proposals. There is a long-held requirement to replace the ageing King Alfred Leisure Centre which is now overdue. In addition the Prince Regent Swimming Complex is now a dated facility with high upkeep costs which needs significant improvement.
There is therefore an opportunity to provide new sports facilities serving the East and West of the city, with the popular Withdean Sports Complex continuing to serve the North. These three facilities should be of a sufficiently large scale to provide a comprehensive sporting offer. Including (where land permits) new pool and sport hall facilities. Family friendly activities like soft play and adventure climbing could make up for current gaps in the market.
In terms of more local community sports facilities, general refurbishment programmes are recommended to upgrade and enhance the local offer. At Portslade Sports Centre, Moulsecoomb Community Leisure Centre and Stanley Deason Leisure Centre this can ensure that the local needs of residents can be better addressed. The need to retain St. Lukes Swimming Pool as a small community pool should be considered as part of wider proposals for the East Hub development.
As well as plans for investment, the council will continue to work with the universities and the network of schools and colleges, sports clubs and community centres to increase the availability of community access to sports facilities across the city.
Improved Sports Facilities through the implementation of the Sports Facilities Investment Plan can assist in:
- reducing inequalities - children and young people, older people, disadvantaged families, black and minority ethnic groups, people with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups, and women and girls.
- coordinating sport (physical activity and health programmes) - developing closer working partnerships between health and sports professionals.
- improving the facility base - addressing the shortfall identified in the city’s facility provision to improve the opportunities for sport and physical activity. The importance of collaboration, developing partnerships and engagement with sports clubs and national governing bodies of sport both at local and national level is a high priority to ensure the aspirations of the plan are delivered.
- refining partnership networks - assist city stakeholders to work towards strategic priorities in the city.
- contributing to wider agendas - the recognition that collaborative network of sport and physical activity providers are able to contribute to wider agendas in the city relating to health, community development and social cohesion. They may also be able to benefit from practical help and sharing resources, where service providers in these areas wish to support sport and physical activity initiatives.
- supporting schools and clubs - finding ways to stem the decline in participation of young people between the ages of 14 and 25.
- raising the profile - championing the value that sport and physical activity makes to the quality of life for residents.