As it completes its fourth year, Jamie Groves, MD of Denbighshire Leisure, and Sarah Watts, CEO of Alliance Leisure, look at the impact of the UK’s first dedicated leisure development framework.
Why did you launch the UK Leisure Framework?
JG: Launched in 2017, the UK Leisure Framework was designed to help public sector bodies transform their leisure offer with successful and sustainable facilities. It was borne out of the success of our first partnership with Alliance Leisure, where we spent almost £10m upgrading facilities after years of under investment. This led us to develop the framework, appointing Alliance Leisure as leisure development partner, to help other local authorities by removing the burdens of public procurement.
How is the framework benefiting local authorities?
SW: The UK public sector procurement process is one of the longest and most expensive in the EU. By making the process quicker and easier, the framework makes the development of public sector leisure facilities much more efficient and affordable. The focus on reducing costs and improving efficiencies means local authorities can dedicate more of their budget to the development.
The framework adopts a full-service approach, including design, business planning, funding, construction and marketing. Working with experts in leisure regeneration and maximising efficiencies at every stage of the development helps ensure the finished project delivers desired outcomes and creates income-generating opportunities that drive sustainability.
What impact has the framework had?
SW: The framework has ensured the successful completion of vital leisure projects designed to deliver lasting impact. Projects range from new pitches, such as the first 3G pitches in Anglesey, to transforming leisure facilities at scale as we helped Inverclyde Leisure to do, investing £2.6m in three leisure centres to achieve a 75% increase in net income and 51% rise in membership.
JG: To date, 41 projects have completed under the framework and 12 more are currently under way. Regardless of their size or cost, all projects are designed to impact local health and social outcomes by creating healthier communities, while also being economically sustainable to ensure local authorities achieve their income targets.
How can the framework help local authorities after the pandemic?
JG: The need for public leisure will be greater than ever post-pandemic, but facilities haveto be much more relevant if they are to create better social and financial returns for local authorities. By mitigating the risk and making developments easier and more cost-effective, the framework will allow councils to invest in the right leisure provision to bring economic, health and social benefits to their communities.
SW: Local authorities will need to broaden their offerings, both indoors and out, to create active environments that can be used by as many members of the community as possible to ensure value for money. The UK Leisure Framework is a proven vehicle for delivering inspiring schemes that increase opportunities for physical activity.
For more information about the UK Leisure Framework visit www.LeisureFramework.co.uk