Purpose of Report
To present a final draft of the City Council’s Facilities Strategy for approval.
That the Council’s Facilities Strategy be approved.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
Reasons for Decision
In light of recent changes to the future growth plans of the City of Lincoln, a comprehensive Facilities Strategy was required to better understand the need for sporting facilities.
The Strategy, attached as Appendix A to the report, provided the Council with a holistic review of the existing provision of grass pitches, artificial pitches and ancillary facilities across the city. It also provided a detailed, evidence-based, document for pitch provision across Lincoln and its boundaries having reviewed existing provision, current usage from sports clubs, predicted population growth and the demographics of the catchment areas that surrounded the facilities.
The Strategy set out a tiered system to ensure equity across the city in terms of the provision of pitch-based sports, as follows:
· Tier 1 – large multi-sport venues with indoor and outdoor sports;
· Tier 2 – single site and single sport venues with multiple pitches and facilities;
· Tier 3 – small sites with two separate sport or activity offerings, such as a cricket pitch alongside a football pitch;
· Tier 4 – small single sites with only one sport or activity offering.
Each tier would have a discreet strategy to either invest, maintain or dispose in these assets, which would be reviewed on a periodic basis.
It was recommended that tier one facilities should be strategically located across the city to provide a geographical split, based on demand, population density and available associated facilities. The remaining tiered facilities would then be chosen to support the principal site in that sub-region. This approach would enable the Council to retain control of the budget for sports and leisure facilities and strategically provide venues for sports teams and clubs based on a prescribed priority list. Over the longer term it was envisaged that this would bring about efficiency savings for the Council and a more organised approach to the provision of playing pitches in the city.
Councillor Donald Nannestad explained that this Strategy represented one element of a range of things the Council needed to do and that a key aspect was to find ways of getting more people to become active. Lincoln compared favourably to other districts in the county, but not from a national perspective. In respect of the Covid-19 pandemic, Councillor Nannestad made the point that for some people this had led to them doing more than they usually would, however, some people as a consequence were doing much less.
It was noted that the proposed Strategy had been considered by the Council’s Policy Scrutiny Committee.
Councillor Bob Bushell welcomed the Strategy which provided a good indication of what facilities were available in the city and surrounding areas. He said that encouragement was a significant factor in getting people more active and that the Facilities Strategy should be read in conjunction with the Physical Activity Strategy also scheduled for consideration at this meeting. Councillor Bushell added that it was amazing to see what facilities there already were in the city and how many incredible organisations there were supporting physical activity at all ages, citing his grandson’s youth football club at grassroots level as an example. He added that the health of the city’s residents was not a new issue but was something the City Council should take a lead on.
Councillor Chris Burke highlighted comments made at the Policy Scrutiny Committee in that there was an insufficient number of football pitches in the city and that the Strategy had not necessarily reflected the increased popularity of women’s football. Questions had also been raised as to consultation with members of the public and users of facilities. It was noted that further consultation with the public would be undertaken in due course and that, in developing this Strategy, consultation at this stage had only taken place with partners, operators and individual clubs, as opposed to users of facilities.
Councillor Neil Murray questioned whether the provision of football pitches on the West Common would continue as they had not been reflected in the Strategy, asking whether it was the intention to keep them allocated as reserve pitches. The Strategic Director of Environment and Communities agreed to investigate this matter further and provide a response to the Executive outside of the meeting. Councillor Bushell highlighted that teams should be encouraged to play on the two new 3G pitches in the city, which had significantly less maintenance associated with them. Councillor Nannestad added that such encouragement occurred in other areas due to the fact that games could still be played in all weathers on 3G pitches, resulting in less fixtures being postponed.
Councillor Ric Metcalfe, on behalf of the Executive, conveyed his thanks to Steve Lockwood, Sports, Leisure and City Services Manager, for his work in developing the Strategy.