Stevenage Borough Council commissioned SLC in June 2021 to support a major transformation programme for its leisure and cultural services. The existing leisure contract with Stevenage Leisure Ltd ended in March 2023 after a period of 25 years. The Council wished to undertake a wholesale review of its strategic approach and management arrangements in preparation for future delivery of these services.

The programme comprised of the following staged workstreams:

Vision and Strategic Outcomes

SLC supported the Council to create a bold and ambitious new Vision and Strategic Outcomes for its leisure and cultural services. This new strategic approach was informed by local demographic data, widespread stakeholder and community engagement and was designed to:

  • Reflect the changing needs of communities
  • Match the aspirations of a co-operative Council, and;
  • Align with the regeneration and transformation of Stevenage town centre.

In support of the new Vision and Strategic Outcomes, SLC worked with the Programme Board to identify the service-specific Strategic Objectives which will direct and guide the future delivery of its leisure and cultural services.

Leisure Study Update

Key to the future of leisure, sport and physical activity in Stevenage is the provision of a new Leisure and Community Hub facility to replace the Council’s ageing facilities and to better meet the needs and expectations of residents.

SLC updated the feasibility work delivered previously in 2017/18 including:

  • An updated supply and demand Analysis
  • A review of previous facility mix options and identification of a recommended revised facility mix
  • Development of revised accommodation schedule and budget cost estimates
  • Development of 15-year revenue business plans

The update provided the Council with a refreshed position on the feasibility of delivering a new major wet and dry facility. This development will form a critical element of the new service and supports the wider regeneration and placemaking agenda in Stevenage.

Management Options Appraisal

Having identified a new strategic approach to future delivery of its leisure and cultural services, the Council wished to explore its options in terms of management models.

SLC supported a Management Options Appraisal exercise which assessed options for the leisure, cultural and golf facilities managed by SLL but also a wider scope of facilities and services. These included Ridlins Athletics Stadium, outdoor pitches and pavilions, Stevenage Museum and the Health and Wellbeing service, all of which are managed directly by the Council. This exercise resulted in the athletics stadium and bookings for outdoor pitches and pavilions being included in the scope of a new management contract. The museum and Health and Wellbeing service were retained in-house.

Leisure and Cultural Procurement Process

SLC provided ‘end to end’ support throughout the procurement process including:

  • Development of a robust procurement strategy, informed by market insight and presenting an optimal balance of risk to ensure the opportunity was attractive to the operator market
  • Development of a services specification which reflected the new strategic approach including requirements for a new Active Communities Programme of outreach activities targeted at less active residents
  • Development of all tender documents including a separate Lot for the golf course
  • Evaluation of all tenders including analysis and advice on financial submissions.

Project Outcome

Following a comprehensive and robust tender process, the new 10-year Active Communities Leisure Management Contract was won by Everyone Active.

From 1 April 2023, Everyone Active took on the management of Stevenage Swimming Centre, Stevenage Arts and Leisure Centre, Fairlands Valley Aqua Park, Ridlins Athletics Stadium and Stevenage Golf Conference Centre. They are also managing the bookings for the Council’s outdoor pitches and pavilions.

In addition to this, Everyone Active will work with the Council and wider stakeholders to design and deliver a new Active Communities Programme. This new outreach programme will deliver activities outside of the core facilities within community settings, parks and open spaces to enable residents to be more active in local places.

Stevenage Borough Council logo
Stevenage Swimming Centre pool


We have worked with SLC for a number of years on a range of different projects which was highly beneficial as it ultimately led to a successful procurement process. SLC bring market intelligence and unrivalled insight into the cutting edge of leisure services delivery and the procurement process, which is far more complex than we expected. SLC helped enormously with supporting Members and senior officers through the process.

The outcome for us is magnificent, more than we expected, and has ensured that Stevenage has future-proofed our leisure offer with the ability to flex and change as our customer demand changes and as the town develops in the future.

We could not have achieved this without the support of Toby and the wider team at SLC.

Geoff Caine, Culture, Wellbeing and Leisure Services Manager, Stevenage Borough Council