As the UK Leisure Framework, owned by Denbighshire Council and Managed by Denbighshire Leisure, enters its fourth year, Jamie Groves, Managing Director at Denbighshire Leisure, reflects on its success.
Why have local authorities and leisure trusts chosen to manage capital projects through the UK Leisure Framework?
The UK Leisure Framework is unique in that it delivers an end-to-end solution for leisure developments. Whereas most frameworks simply procure and manage the transformation of physical buildings, the UK Leisure Framework offers services that contribute to whole-community engagement, providing an efficient means of increasing opportunities for physical activity through the creation of inspiring active spaces.
Alliance Leisure, our appointed leisure development partner, has been managing leisure developments for more than 20 years, delivering a wealth of knowledge and experience to every project. Alliance Leisure works with a carefully selected supply chain to ensure projects are delivered to the highest possible quality whilst maximising efficiencies and meeting community active leisure needs.
Evidence-based feasibility studies drive all design and facility mix decisions. Most local authority in-house legal, procurement and leisure management teams are pushed to the max just delivering against day-to-day requirements. Adding a potential multi-million-pound leisure development project to the mix is beyond the resource of most. Providing a solution that enables project delivery, by leading leisure development experts, from concept to completion, resolves this resource issue.
Describe a typical project delivered by the framework.
There is no such thing as ‘typical’. Project values ranging from £200k for the installation of Anglesey’s first 3G pitch to £18m for a new-build destination water park in North Wales. Some authorities have required refurbishment of a single site whilst others have sought a complete reconfiguration of entire leisure stock portfolios. Whatever the project value, the framework’s focus is always on the delivery of community value.
Some public sector leisure providers may be reluctant to invest in a non-statutory service such as leisure. What would you say to them?
Councils taking a longer-term view of community wellbeing should consider calculated investment in leisure provision, even during times of austerity. Redevelopment can bring economic, health and social benefits to whole communities, delivering a return on investment that is hard to match.
Closing down a tired leisure facility that no longer meets the needs of its community is not always the only or the best solution. Alliance Leisure has worked with local authorities up and down the country, presenting and proving a case for reinvestment and regeneration in leisure. When the correct facility mix is applied in a vibrant, inspiring environment, whole communities re-engage, and leisure facilities become economically sustainable.
How are UK Leisure Framework projects funded?
Through multiple funding sources. Many projects are funded through prudential borrowing from the PWLB whilst others use capital, privately sourced by Alliance Leisure. There is also the opportunity to incorporate third-party grants. Some projects incorporate a mix of funding options. The UK Leisure Framework is built to be flexible, making it as easy as possible to invest.
There are lots of frameworks. Why are public sector leisure providers choosing the UK Leisure Framework?
The UK Leisure Framework adopts a full-service approach, supporting all elements that contribute to a successful, sustainable development including; design, business planning, funding, construction and marketing. Most other frameworks do not have this bandwidth, instead focusing on individual elements.
This approach helps to mitigate investment risk. 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 which drive sustainability.
Case study: The transformation of Monmouth Leisure Centre
In a construction-first, the UK Leisure Framework designed and built a 25m swimming pool and spa within the existing structure of a sports hall. This impressive feat of architectural and construction engineering was as part of a £7.4m refurbishment and extension of Monmouth Leisure Centre for Monmouthshire County Council.
The phased project, managed by UK Leisure Framework Development Partner, Alliance Leisure, completed in spring 2019 and included a new gym, exercise and group cycling studios, a toning suite, children’s play area and cafe.
As a result of the investment, the following have been recorded:
• 290% increase in membership
• 800-1000 visits by families to the soft play area every month
• 53,000 swims recorded between February 2019 and January 2020
• In January 2018, 987 people attended a group exercise class. In January 2020, this figure was 18,369.
Overall, the development has succeeded in encouraging more physical activity among people of all ages, preferences and abilities.
About The UK Leisure Framework…
Denbighshire County Council launched the UK Leisure Framework in 2017, naming Alliance Leisure as leisure development partner. The UK Leisure Framework provides an efficient and effective means of procuring and managing leisure development projects and is open to all named public bodies and third-sector leisure organisations across the UK (which is all UK local authorities).
• Completed, current and committed projects: 33
• Completed projects value: £40.7m
• Project questionnaires authorised: 81
• Call-off contracts signed: 31
• Projects currently on site: 6