Sports Facility Calculator

The Sports Facility Calculator can help local planning authorities quantify the additional demand for key community sports facilities

The Sports Facility Calculator (SFC) was formerly an Excel spreadsheet based tool downloadable on our website. Its move to APP continues our focus to consolidate tools and reports within a single platform.

Access the calculator via the Active Places Power website

Registration is required to access Active Places Power (APP) and therefore the SFC.  If you are not already registered, you can register for free via the link under the login button on the APP homepage.

What is the sports facility calculator?

We created the SFC to help local planning authorities quantify how much additional demand for the key community sports facilities (swimming pools, sports halls and artificial grass pitches), is generated by populations of new growth, development and regeneration areas.

The SFC was first developed to help estimate the facility needs of the new communities in the Eastern Quarry Development, Dartford and the Milton Keynes future growth areas. It has been used to help local authorities in infrastructure planning, s.106 and Supplementary Planning Documents.

What can it do?

The SFC helps with quantifying the demand side of the facility provision equation. It helps to answer questions such as, “How much additional demand for swimming will the population of a new development area generate?”, and “What would the cost be to meet this new demand at today’s values?”

The SFC is designed to estimate the needs of discrete populations for sports facilities (such as sports halls and swimming pools) created by a new community of a residential development.

It’s important to remember that the SFC looks only at demand for facilities and does not take into account any existing supply of facilities.

What facilities does it cover?

The current community facilities that the SFC can be used for are:

  • Swimming pools
  • Sports halls
  • Artificial grass pitches 
  • Indoor bowls centres

However, this will be extended to others in the future, such as indoor tennis centres.

Understanding what the figures mean

In calculating the increased demand for sports facilities for a given population increase, the SFC uses parameters developed for our Facilities Planning Model. These are used to estimate how many visits per week in the peak period the population would generate for a hall, pool, artificial grass pitch and indoor bowls centre. In order for these numbers to be meaningful, they are converted into the equivalent size of facilities needed to satisfy this demand.

It’s important to remember that although the calculations are based on the peak period, the process also assumes that the additional facilities are open for community use throughout the whole week (over 80 hours per week), including both peak and off peak periods.

Planning to meet the demands of the new population using facilities which are not open for the whole week will need to make allowance for the reduced hours. For example, if a new development generated the need for a 4 court sports hall, which it is planned to be met by a dual use facility on a school site, community use may only be in after school hours, say 30 hours per week. This would obviously be significantly short of the 40 hours in the peak period, never mind the 80 hours of total community access needed.

How does it work?

The SFC uses information that we have gathered on who uses facilities and applies this to the population profile of the local area. This ensures that the calculations are sensitive to the needs of the people who actually live there.

The SFC then turns this estimation of demand (visits per week) into the equivalent amount of facility which is needed to meet these visits each week. For swimming pools it uses square metres of water, lanes and 25m, four lanes pool units. For halls, it uses the number of badminton courts and four court hall units. For indoor bowls, it uses rinks and centres. For artificial grass pitches it uses pitches.

Other features of the SFC include:

  • It uses the population profiles of individual local authorities
  • It allows new population profiles to be created to be used as the base population
  • Changes in sports participation rates can be incorporated
  • The costs of facilities can be shown, including regional variations in building rates.

It’s important to remember that the SFC looks at demand for facilities and does not take into account any existing supply of facilities.

The SFC will give a target total for the number of facilities that are needed to meet a population's sports facility needs. This is based on the local population, national participation rates and the national average for facility usage.

The SFC helps with the demand side of the facility provision equation.

How does the calculator estimate the demand for facilities?

The SFC uses survey information for the different facilities to estimate who uses what and how often. This builds up a profile of usage, which can be then applied to estimate how much demand any given population would generate.

This demand is then converted into the quantity of facilities needed, and expressed as square metres of water, badminton courts, artificial grass pitches or bowling rinks, taking into account the national average usage rate of each facility type.

The data on who uses facilities has come from:

  • National Halls and Pools Survey
  • Benchmarking Service
  • Indoor Bowls User Survey
  • General Household Survey
  • Synthetic Turf Pitch User Survey.

Building costs

The building costs of facilities used in the SFC are for average facilities that we endorse and exclude the following:

  • Site abnormal costs, such as poor ground, difficult access, long service connections and so on
  • VAT
  • Land costs

The SFC automatically applies the Building Cost Information Service’s (RICS) Pricing Adjustment Factors to the costs. These variations are on a County and London Borough basis.