Design and cost FAQs

Our frequently asked questions support our design and cost guidance notes and should be referred to for all technical enquiries

For enquiries regarding specific sports, we also recommend contacting the appropriate national governing body of the sport.

Please note, we are not able to respond to specific individual enquiries. We will however, log enquiries that are received, and common questions which fall outside the information contained within our guidance will be collated alongside appropriate answers and posted below on a regular basis. 

Artificial lighting: What are the recommended lighting levels for facility spaces, eg sports hall etc?

Our existing guidance is currently being reviewed and it is intended that a new guidance note will be available in the future.

Artificial grass pitches: When should an artificial grass pitch be tested for bounce heights etc?

Generally, testing is conducted following installation.

We would also recommend testing the surface periodically throughout its life to demonstrate it still provides a safe playing environment (this is as much a way of showing the surface is being maintained correctly as a check on its construction).

All testing should be carried out by appropriately qualified professionals.

Athletics: Should the run up to a long or triple jump be a synthetic surface?

The Sport England Guidance Note: Athletics is a briefing document designed to prompt the right questions and to inform the decisions that formulate the project and design briefs.

However, it is not exhaustive and further details of athletics installations can be found on the International Amateur Athletics Federation website.

Section 2.3 of The IAAF manual (downloadable in PDF format) deals with layout and construction issues for jumping events.

Synthetic turf is the surface type favoured by the IAAF for the run up to all jumping pits facilities and is also covered in the manual.

However, advice on turf or unbound mineral surfaces is available on request from the IAAF Office and may be appropriate for facilities used on an occasional basis.

We recommend that the specifics of the project should be discussed with UK Athletics

Athletics: Can I request a list of suppliers for athletics track surfaces?

We do not and cannot recommend individual suppliers or contractors.

You may however find the Sport and Play Construction Association useful.

It is a trade organisation that will be able to supply you with names of appropriately qualified suppliers in this field.

Fitness studios: Guidelines recommend 5m2 work stations, are these suitable for disabled access?

The recommended 5m2 space allocation given on page 16 of Fitness and Exercise Spaces is further clarified on page 21 of the design guide. However, the table states that the equipment supplier should be consulted to obtain the best advice on space requirements around the equipment. The table also refers to the Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) in respect of IFI accredited accessible equipment.

All accessible gym equipment should be accredited by the IFI but there is no equivalent standard space allocation for all IFI accredited equipment. Clear space and space allocation will vary depending upon the type of equipment selected, the layout of the gym and project specific access needs. The IFI prefer a minimum 1.5m clear circulation zone adjacent to the accessible equipment, which in certain circumstances may be reduced to 1m minimum where only direct equipment access is needed. In the majority of gym layouts, it is expected that there would be a mixture of standard and IFI accredited equipment further affecting the layout.

The Inclusive Fitness Initiative prefer to give direct project specific advice at an early stage and are willing to provide comments on proposed equipment layouts.

Queries should therefore be addressed directly to them at their website.

Indoor cricket: Are there any standard guidelines for simulation of temperature and humidity conditions?

Please contact the England & Wales Cricket Board for further assistance in this matter. Their contact details are available on the ECB website

Multi-use games areas: we are proposing a 30mx15m MUGA. Does this meet your specification?

Part 1 of the Sport England Guidance Notes A Guide to the Design, Specification & Construction of Multi Use Games Areas (MUGAs) gives detailed information with regard to Multi Use Games Areas.

The recommended minimum size for a Type 1 – 5 MUGA is 37 x 18.5m

Multi-purpose sports halls: Is natural lighting appropriate within sports halls?

We do not object to the use of natural lighting within sports halls providing it is well considered and appropriate. We seek to encourage participation in sport by people of all ages and backgrounds. The provision of high quality internal spaces with attractive daytime environments is seen as a significant aspect in attracting user groups.

We can also see the considerable benefits in terms of an environmentally sustainable approach and potentially lower running costs in being able to complement artificial lighting with natural day lighting. We are keen to stress however that using natural light in a sports hall requires very careful consideration because of difficulties in controlling glare and ensuring reasonably constant and uniform levels of lighting.

Appropriate lighting is vital in sports halls, to allow activities to take place which often demand critical visual tasks. The design issues are complex, even when the building form is not. Optimising natural daylight and integrating it with well designed artificial light requires that the form, fabric, internal layout and systems of a building are considered holistically. Generally, north lighting is considered most appropriate.

For sports halls providing for high-end competitive sports events, or single-sport use (eg badminton centres) any provision of natural day lighting should be discussed with the appropriate national governing body at an early stage.

Multi-purpose sports halls: Can we use less storage space than the 12.5% Sport England recommends?

Adequate storage space is essential to the efficient operation of multi-purpose sport halls.

We consider 12.5% of the hall floor area to be the minimum guidance based on its experience. It should be noted that a lack of sufficient storage space is the most common fault in the design of multi-purpose sports facilities.

The location and proportions of storage space can be just as important as its overall size. Locate storage on the long side of a hall wall with direct access and good proportions (a store depth of 5m is preferred).

Compile an equipment schedule to ascertain specific storage requirements and consider using an efficient racking system.

Multi-purpose sports halls: Is there a recommended list of suitable wall colours for a sports hall?

In terms of wall colours, we are not too prescriptive on actual colours.

Reflectance value of around 50% is key, as is a consistency of colour and a contrast to the floor surface, as explained in the Sports Halls design guidance note.

Colours that are known to have been successful in multi-purpose sports halls include: Blue green 53 GG 50/360 (Dulux refs) Blue green 87 GG 51/291 Lavender 49 BB 51/186 Lilac 10 RB 47/147 Blue green 10 GG 48/366

Some research was undertaken by the Badminton Association a few years ago where it was felt Blues and Greens provided the best contrast to the shuttlecock and specific Dulux references are given on page six of our Badminton Guidance Note.

Darker background colours may be appropriate for dedicated badminton centres.

For cricket use, a lighter coloured end wall (white) will be required behind the bowler end and additional lighting for cricket nets see ECB Facility Brief and Guidance Notes for Indoor Sport Halls with Cricket Provision.

However, given the range of sports taking place in a hall, we are not prescriptive.

Multi-purpose sports halls: I can find no reference in BS EN 14904:2006 regarding laying direction for sports flooring.

Most flooring manufacturers state in their laying instructions that the battens are to be laid parallel to the shortest side of the room to ensure that the boards are laid parallel to the longest side of the room. This is partly due to aesthetics, but the primary consideration is the performance of the floor.

As timber's microscopic structure includes bundles of tubules running along the length of the board, these can swell with increases in moisture (expansion) or decreases in moisture (shrinkage). This means that boards expand more across their width than along their length due to changes in humidity of moisture content. If the boards are laid parallel to the short wall, the extent of the movement (over the long direction of the hall) would be significantly greater than it would if the boards were laid parallel to the long side of the hall. This could therefore impact upon the design, performance and appearance of the floor.

We would always recommend that the manufacturer’s specific advice be sought for any floor and any recommendations be followed regarding the design of the whole floor.

Multi-purpose sports halls: Does the glass on glazed screens need to be flush with the face of the internal wall?

Our advice is that walls should be flush-faced and impact-resistant internally, for safety reasons and to ensure consistent ball rebound.

This applies to door frames and the doors themselves therefore any glazing should ideally also be flush. It is generic guidance and we do not hold standard details, which are down to individual design teams; any slight rebate, if unavoidable, will need to be considered carefully ie minimal chamfered / rounded edge detail.

Multi-purpose sports halls: Is there a recommended fixing height for fittings e.g. netting bags, cleats etc?

There is a general recommendation that the walls in multi-sports halls should be flush and free of any hazardous projections.

The situation should be considered against the particular sports, levels of play to be accommodated and the size of the hall, but the risks of contact with the side wall are likely to be greater for fast moving ball team games such as five-a-side football and basketball.

See separate Guidance Note on Sports Hall Design

The walls should be flush to a height that takes into account the height and arm reach of potential users.

Heights between 2.1 – 2.3m are often adopted so that the lining material can run through with the heads of access/equipment store doors and maintain a clean visual line around the hall.

Doors should be detailed to be flush with the wall or with rebound panels to avoid hazardous corners/projections. Foam padding may be considered to add protection in some situations. In the case of fire doors (with an integrated panic bar) the lower rebound panel should be 1.21m high to maintain a continuous rebound surface for five a side football but should also be agreed with the Fire office.

Care should be taken over items of fixed sports equipment, which are often installed by separate contractors. It might be acceptable for soft items such as bags for netting to be located below the likely body contact level, as long as the actual fixing are detailed to avoid being a hazard and not lower than the 1.21 mentioned above.

Other items that need special consideration include power sockets, fire alarm points and cleats and pulleys for overhead spotting rigs.

Multi-purpose sports halls: What colour should the sports floor markings be for each sport?

The table on page 26 of the Sports Halls: Design and Layouts design guide shows the recommended court marking widths and colours for the most common sports. The table indicates that hockey, volleyball and five-a-side have options to use either the designated colour or, where there might be a conflict with another sport, an alternative (‘other’ unspecified) line colour. In addition, the guidance states that for five-a-side the line colour is ‘other’ therefore the line colour is not fixed and can be varied to suit specific requirements for the hall.

Which ‘other’ colours are actually used will depend upon the number of sports being accommodated and the order of priority given to each included sport. Where a particular sport is the priority sport being provided then it’s designated colour should be used.

Multi-purpose sports halls: Can fire alarm break glass points be flush with the wall or do they need to stand proud?

We appreciate the difficulty in meeting potentially conflicting standards in respect of alarm call points in sports halls. It is important to protect sports hall users from injury by not having fittings protruding from the walls whilst also complying with existing British Standards which state that call points should be positioned in a way that ensures they can be readily seen from the side.

There are a number of potential solutions to this including the use of an MEA Stopper, however the use of the Stopper may not be suitable because whilst it is designed to resist vandalism:

  • There is no clear information with regard to high speed impact or protecting afforded to users through impact (in addition to protection of the call point which is the primary purpose of the stopper).
  • The product increases the projection into the hall space.

You may wish to consider alternative options, such as using a purpose made pattress constructed from a material such as high density polyethylene (HDPE) as per the sketches below.

HDPE is available in various standard thicknesses and colours including red, it is hard wearing, resists impact very well but is also soft enough (if designed correctly) to minimise injury through body impact. It can be shaped with standard woodworking tools, perimeter edges can be chamfered and corners radiused to minimise the risk of injury through accidental impact to those participating in sport. We believe that if red HDPE is used this should still enable the semi-recessed classification in British Standard 5839-1 to be met, in that the pattress would be visible from the side.

Swimming pools: How do you calculate family changing space in Appendix 4, option 1 in your pools design guidance note?

Appendix 4 Option 1 of our swimming pools design guidance note is a worked example based around a 25m pool + Small Learner Pool.

We are currently undertaking its first annual review of design guidance published since 2007 and we may further clarify this point in a future update, with the following table to give basic direction on the reasonable provision of Family/Disabled Cubicles for the time being.

However, the actual number of four person family/disabled cubicles in a changing area should be considered by the designer, based on his experience in the design of swimming pools and it will also depend upon the use, size and occupancy of the facility, as agreed with the client and operator.

Swimming pools: Should the number of changing spaces or pool users be used when calculating toilet provision?

The 2006 version of the British Standard states that the minimum number of sanitary fittings should be based upon the number of male/female pool users (refer to BS6465: Part 1: 2006 table 12).

Whereas the 1984 version of the standard (on which the ‘White Book’ was based) states that the number of sanitary fittings should be based upon the number of changing places (refer to BS 6465: Part 1: 1984 table 11).

New design guidance has been drafted with references to current British Standards.

We accept that for the majority of swimming pool projects, there are ongoing issues with regard to the provisions recommended within the newer versions of BS6465;Part 1 (1994 and 2006), when considered against the recommendations of BS 6465;Part 1;1984 referred to in the original Sports Council Vol 3 and within the Building regulations.

It is not intended that our guidance will give a formulaic approach to the design of a facility, and any specific provision should be considered by the designer, based on his experience in the design of swimming pools and it will also depend upon the use, size and occupancy of the facility, agreed with the client and operator.

Swimming Pools design guidance – Appendix 4 Step 6 side note states “Appropriate reductions to BS 6465-1 2006 should be discussed with the operator and building control officer.” Sport England is unable to direct on what the reductions might be, as they will be project specific.

We are currently undertaking its first annual review of design guidance published since 2007 and we may further clarify this point in a future update.

Swimming pools: Can you confirm Sport England’s requirements for competitive swimming pools?

Our design guide Swimming Pools provides detailed information in respect of the design and construction of swimming pool facilities to meet a range of needs.

For competitive swimming we would also recommend that you always consult with the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA).

For FINA (Federation Internationale de Natation) standard pools, you should also refer to its facility rules.