As the sector’s biggest public funders, local authorities play a critical role in providing opportunities for people to participate in sport and physical activity. They are SLC’s largest client group. Through the provision of sport and leisure centres, playing pitches, public parks and open spaces, local authorities are ideally placed to enable improvements in long-term health and wellbeing of their residents.
SLC brings over 65 years’ collective experience of working directly for and on behalf of local authorities. We have a deep understanding of how they function and the challenges they face in managing competing pressures and shrinking resources.
We help local authority clients to:
- identify their priorities for future sport, physical activity and leisure provision aligned to the resources available
- develop strategies to optimise an enabling approach to achieve wider outcomes
- transform their sport, leisure, community and cultural facilities and services to better meet local needs in a sustainable way
- improve and maintain the condition of their stock of leisure assets through proactive asset management
- procure new value-added operating contracts that go way beyond traditional leisure centre management.
Leisure and culture trusts
The increase in the number of leisure and culture trusts has changed the landscape of the sport, leisure and cultural sector. Significant numbers of facilities and services are now being run by trusts and, with recent changes, trusts are having to work harder than ever to compete with larger multi-site operators.
We have worked with a number of existing trusts and their boards over the years, including Live Active Leisure in Perth and Kinross, Wave Leisure in East Sussex, Westway Trust in London and Valley Leisure in Andover.
Private sector developers
SLC works regularly with the private sport and leisure sector, property developers, architects and hotel groups. We provide a unique skill set and experience to support commercial developments and manage the interface with local authorities and educational establishments.
In recent years we have worked with developers such as Barratt Home Developments, Hillread Homes, Generator Group, Ashill Developments, The Anderson Group and Banner Homes.
We recently assisted GL Hearn’s planning, development and regeneration team by providing expert support as part of a major regeneration scheme in Berkshire. Our work involved exploring options for relocation of the town’s main leisure centre to an alternative site and included the development of the required facility mix and business planning for the new centre.
We also recently supported Generator Group with specialist advice linked to a planning appeal. SLC’s work involved building a robust case for appeal based on clearly identified and expertly presented evidence.
Our work with developers includes:
- feasibility studies
- business planning
- needs analysis
- geo-spatial mapping support
- planning support
- golf course developments
- housing and residential developments
- sport and leisure-led commercial developments
- expert witness services for planning inquiries.
SLC’s team includes some of the leading experts in the development and operation of community-use facilities on educational sites. Approximately 75% of all sports halls and artificial pitches in England are located on school sites but many are not available for community use, often despite strong local demand. We work with schools to help unlock the potential of their facilities to help meet this demand, create an additional revenue stream and develop a stronger link with the local community.
As far back as 1992 SLC’s managing director, Duncan Wood-Allum, was a contributor to Sport England’s Open All Hours guide for schools that were considering opening their doors to the community. Since then he has managed three highly successful community-use facilities over a period of eight years, building a deep knowledge of the issues and many opportunities community use has to offer.
SLC has worked on a variety of community-use projects over the years, including advising Oxford City Council, Birmingham City Council, University of Kent, Canterbury City Council and Suffolk County Council.
SLC’s work with Suffolk County Council included the development a community use support framework, an innovative approach to support schools in developing sustainable community use.
More recently, SLC helped Oxford Spires Academy to develop plans for a community health and fitness facility on their site. Having supported them in the development of a business plan for the facility and the securing of funding, SLC led the procurement of an operator for the dual-use facility.
Currently SLC are supporting a secondary school in south-east England as they undertake a review of the management arrangements of its community-use sports centre.
SLC can provide schools, local authorities and universities with a complete range of support in relation to their sports facilities and services, including:
- design development advice
- feasibility studies
- business planning
- procurement of new operating partners
- operational reviews
- performance improvement.
SLC also addresses the needs of a number of other sectors through its own in-house expertise and through the skills and experience of its wide range of associates, examples of which are briefly set out below.
Sport England has recently appointed The Sport, Leisure and Culture Consultancy (SLC) to lead the development of the Strategic Outcomes Planning Guidance, aimed at supporting local authorities in developing a strategic approach to investment in sport and physical activity provision to support shared local strategic outcomes.
Sport England has also recently appointed (SLC) to lead the review and update of the Procurement Toolkit suite now called the Leisure Services Delivery Guidance. This Guidance is for use by the sector and by organisations with close relationships with Sport England including Local Authorities, commercial operators, Leisure trusts, Legal professionals, leisure consultants, and sector bodies.
Following sector feedback, the emphasis of the Leisure Services Delivery Guidance will be to provide more support for Councils with their in-house operations, trust operations and outsourced operations, linked to commissioning support, strategic planning advice and procurement. It will feature further step by step guidance, case studies, best practice tips and templates to reduce time and cost of all partners involved.
The Leisure Services Delivery Guidance will continue to be seeking to bring the latest innovations in service specifications, standard industry positions on risk, performance management and governance. It will further encourage partnerships which can deliver increases in participation, enhanced customer experience and financially sustainable leisure provision, regardless of the management model being used by a local authority.
SLC advises local government heritage services. We have extensive experience of supporting museums, archives and heritage assets in managing change and by using our learning from other sectors we bring a fresh, challenging approach to heritage issues.
We completed the London Heritage Change Programme on behalf of the London Cultural Improvement Programme in 2010 and we have worked with the London boroughs of Camden, Islington, Brent and Haringey to deliver pilot schemes relating to the transformation of heritage services. We also assisted Derby City Council with their radical Transforming Museums programme.
Recently we conducted an in-depth review of the archive service of a county council in the south-east and developed a comprehensive, prioritised work programme of recommended changes and improvements linked to service development and savings. The team’s recommendations were used to inform the council’s future heritage strategy.
SLC understands how tough the current environment is for sports clubs. Changing participation patterns, reductions in school sport and asset management issues mean that it’s not easy to be sustainable. As active volunteers at our own clubs, we understand these challenges.
SLC has been pleased to be involved in supporting Maccabi London Brady in the redevelopment of their sports ground in Rowley Lane, London and has also been providing East Grinstead Sports Club, home of the internationally renowned hockey club, support with procuring a new operational partnership.
SLC regularly works with universities and colleges. We provide a range of support to enable their sport and leisure facilities to enhance their brand and optimise the student experience.
We have recently worked with Imperial College London on a range of projects and have supported universities, such as University of Kent, on their development strategies.
SLC has extensive experience of working with local authorities to improve, redesign and optimise their library services through innovation and best practice.
SLC associate Stephanie Crossley is an experienced library services specialist. Having worked for 38 years in the provision of local government-funded cultural services, as well as two years as a senior consultant with Capita Consulting within their local government CRM team, she is well placed to provide support to the cultural sector.