Inspired Facilities: frequently asked questions

Check out our funding pages for more information on the programmes currently open for applications

What is Inspired Facilities?

Inspired Facilities is focused on making it easier for local community and volunteer groups to improve and refurbish sports clubs or transform non-sporting venues into modern grassroots sport facilities. Tired, worn out, old facilities make it harder for people to start or keep doing sport. They can also be more expensive to run and difficult to maintain.

The Inspired Facilities fund could help you refurbish or upgrade your sports facility; or convert an existing building into a venue suitable for sport and accessible to the whole community.

  • Through Inspired Facilities we will invest in most types of improvement or refurbishment work that will help you develop sport in your local area.

  • Grants are available from £20,000 to £75,000 (up to £150,000 for statutory bodies) for any organisation eligible to receive Lottery funding. Your application should show how your project will keep and, ideally, attract more people to sport and that your project is needed and wanted by the local community. Your application should be created based on the details within the Inspired Facilities catalogue.

Who can apply?

Any organisation eligible to receive Lottery funding who has the appropriate security of tenure on the land on which the proposed project will sit can apply. This includes sports clubs, charities and other community and voluntary organisations, parish and town councils, local authorities, educational establishments and other statutory organisations. You can find further information about this in our general FAQs.

We may, on rare occasions, fund for-profit organisations but only where it is clear no private gain can be obtained from Lottery funds and where the private sector can show it is providing sport that is not provided by the voluntary or statutory sector.

We will not fund individuals, limited liability partnerships or any organisation that cannot demonstrate appropriate governance. 

Security of Tenure

To be eligible to apply you must either own the freehold interest or have a sufficient leasehold interest in the land involved in your project. If you are successful in obtaining an award from us we will ask for a copy of the lease or freehold documents to satisfy us that you are legally entitled to receive the grant. Failure to provide this information will delay your payment and may even render your application ineligible. Sport England is unable to pay any award through the Inspired Facilities funding Programme to an entity that does not meet the Programme’s ownership criteria.

  • Whether you have a freehold or leasehold interest, the name registered at the Land Registry as the owner of the land affected by your project must reflect the name that appears on your governing documents. In some instances, a lease may be made to the trustees of your organisation in which case the trustees may well be the proper applicant, rather than the organisation itself.

  • Schools should note that if the land belongs to their Local Authority then their Local Authority must apply as the proper applicant (ie not the school)
  • Joint applications are not accepted. There must be a single eligible applicant body to account for any award made.

  • Please be aware of the distinction between a lease and a licence. This programme requires that applicants have the ability to exclude all others from the land (even a freeholder) for the duration of the grant. A lease will achieve this, but a licence will not. Look in your documents for words to the effect that “the tenant will enjoy quiet enjoyment” or “exclusive possession” of the land. These words generally indicate a lease. The absence of such words may indicate a licence.

  • As set out in above, the ability to exclude all others must remain for the duration of the grant. Sometimes leases contain what are known as “break clauses” which allow either the landlord or the tenant to terminate the lease for an agreed reason prior to the otherwise agreed end of the lease. Break clauses that allow a lease to be terminated before the end of the grant term fall foul of the Programme’s requirement and should therefore be removed prior to an application being made.

  • The relevant grant term required varies depending upon the size of the grant sought. It is as follows:
    - £20,000 to £50,000 – Seven years
    - £50,001 to £99,999 – Ten years
    - £100,000 and over – Fifteen years
    - Projects including playing field improvements – Twenty-five years.
  • Under this Programme, Sport England does not normally require security (a charge or a restriction on title, depending on the applicant) except in the following circumstances:
    - £150,000 and under – Where a risk analysis requires security
    - £150,001 and over – On all awards
    - Projects including playing field improvements – On all awards

  • Except where the applicant is a local authority, the security Sport England will take will be a charge. Applicants (no matter what the size of the grant they are seeking, even those below £150,000) should ensure that their leasehold documents do not prohibit them giving a charge to Sport England. Such a prohibition could render their application ineligible.

  • Local authorities will be required to grant Sport England a restriction on title in lieu of a charge where security is required.

If after reading the above points you are unsure and would like to discuss this further please contact our funding helpline 0345 8508 508.

How much can we apply for?

Community and voluntary organisations and parish and town councils can apply for grants worth between £20,000 and £75,000. At least 70% of the funding available is set aside for these groups.

Local authorities, statutory organisations, and education establishments such as schools can apply for grants between £20,000 and £150,000.

However, £150,000 grants will be exceptional and only given to projects that can demonstrate a strategic rationale to their application – for example, a review of a local authority’s sports facility stock that identifies this project as a top priority. No more than 30% of the total amount available will be invested through local authorities, statutory organisations, and education establishments. 

Do I need partnership funding?

We would prefer you to have some partnership funding – either cash or in kind. However, we know funding can be difficult for voluntary or community groups to raise so we will not rule out your application if you do not have any. This also applies to town and parish councils. 

Local authorities, schools or educational establishments, and other statutory bodies, need to provide pound-for-pound partnership funding. 

Potential sources of partnership funding include your own funds (cash), funding from partner organisations, other grants, sponsorship and non-cash (in kind) contributions that help to reduce the grant request.

Have you secured funding from your NGB?

In its grant giving, Sport England must keep to the rules of Additionality. Additionality is a principle that prevents funding from Exchequer and Sport England Lottery programmes from being used to fund the same facility. This may affect your project if you have secured, or are intending to secure partnership funding from your National Governing Body (NGB). This is because the capital Exchequer funding to NGB's comes from Sport England. However, it may be possible to use both forms of funding towards your project if you can clearly demonstrate that there is more than one facility element included in your project and that each source of funding will be used separately. For example, if you are looking to provide a Multi- Use Games Area (MUGA) with floodlighting, we may be able to separate two distinct elements to the project such that you can use your NGB exchequer funding for one part (the MUGA) and Lottery funding to the other (the floodlighting). You may need to seek further advice from us if you find yourself in this situation. Please call us on 0345 8508 508

NGBs may, however, have other funding sources such as Facility Trusts and these would be eligible partnership funding contributions.

Football Foundation funding is eligible but only where it is for multi-sport projects with at least one other significant partner investing. This is because Sport England funds the Football Foundation and including a significant contribution from at least one other party helps us meet Lottery regulations regarding additionality. In this circumstance, funding from the Football Foundation would be used towards the football element of the programme and the SE Lottery element would be used towards the other sports being offered.

 If your project needs partnership funding, we would like you to explain within your application how much has been confirmed in writing, how much is under discussion, and how much is unconfirmed. If you have submitted applications to other funders please provide an approximate timescale for the outcome. Although partnership funding does not have to be confirmed at time of submission it does need to be in place before an award can be paid to you if you are successful. We would encourage you to get as much of your partnership funding in place before applying as this will make your project more viable. If large amounts are outstanding at the point of decision then we may decide to reject the project or delay our decision until those amounts have been confirmed. 

In-kind funding

In-kind contributions can count as partnership funding as they reduce the amount of the grant your project needs. 

Such contributions take the form of goods and services provided free of charge, where you would normally have to pay for them. We will need to see formal documentation to support your in-kind partner funding for example, an invoice for professional services showing the reduced rates. 

The value of the contributions in kind should be identified separately and it is important that they are included in both the project costs and partnership funding sections of the application form. 

The types of in-kind contributions that are eligible are listed in the table below: 




Partnership Funding in the Form of Land

Donation of freehold land or property from a   genuine third party, provided that it constitutes added value through the   transfer of ownership and control. Land must be given freehold, and value   needs to be independently and professionally verified and reflect any   existing planning consent or restrictions

Value of any land, facilities, equipment or   other assets already owned by an organisation that is based on potential   development permission -  ‘Hope value’

Services / Materials in Kind

Independently validated voluntary labour,   professional fees or donations of materials. For example, the provision of   professional services, such as architect, construction management, or legal   services; or materials such as bricks, tiles and sanitary ware. These   services may be offered either free of charge or at significantly reduced   rates, perhaps by a club member.

Services or materials not independently   validated or directly linked to the project

Voluntary effort

Must genuinely constitute added value, not   something that would be undertaken anyway. Health and safety legislation   determines that many elements of construction must be carried out by suitably   qualified people to reduce the risk of accidents on site and to ensure that   the finished work is carried out in accordance with statutory requirements   such as building regulations. Work in kind involving specialist trades such   as electrics, plumbing, and heating must be undertaken by an authorised   contractor with appropriate certification and professional indemnity. We may   ask for evidence of this certification if you are successful.

Activities or tasks that would be done   anyway such as general mainten

Which sports are eligible?

All Sport England recognised sports are eligible. You can find out which sports we recognise here.

We prefer it if you or the club or group you represent is affiliated to the relevant sport’s national governing body (NGB).

For sports that have specific safety requirements, we have made affiliation with the relevant NGB a condition if you want to receive Lottery funding. These sports are marked with an asterisk in our recognised sports list.

What types of projects will Inspired Facilities fund?

The Inspired Facilities programme will refurbish and upgrade club facilities, and convert existing buildings into venues suitable for community sport.

We are looking to invest in local projects that are developed and delivered by community and voluntary sector groups that don’t have specialist facility development knowledge.

This is why, although we are not telling you what work your project needs, we have pulled together the Inspired Facilities Catalogue(available on our website)which contains typical facility developments and explains how you can use our approved contractors to help deliver your project. We recommend you read this before deciding how to proceed with your application.

This catalogue is based on what sports clubs have told us they need, and the improvements are grouped into five areas;

  • Building modernisation
  • Outdoor sports lighting
  • Outdoor sports surfaces
  • Community club buildings

Sports equipment- as long as project contains building work

If your application is successful, your project MUST be able to start within 6 months of your award and be open to the community within 18 months.

We have also put together some case studies which may help you with the costings of your project.

If you are unsure please contact our funding helpline on 0345 8508 508 or email us.

What will you not fund?

The following are NOT eligible for funding:

  • Routine maintenance (e.g. painting and decorating) and repairs (e.g. broken window) as this does not represent capital expenditure
  • Personal sports equipment and clothing – this is not a lasting asset, nor does it provide wide enough community benefit
  • Provision of children’s playgrounds and play equipment
  • Equipment only projects
  • Living quarters for grounds staff or club employees
  • Buying land or facilities for future use as this does not constitute the development of a specific/immediate project
  • Projects intended primarily for private gain
  • Projects that contribute directly to a company's distributable profits
  • Endowments – funds to build up a reserve or surplus and loan repayments are not possible under this the Inspired Facilities Programme as these are revenue costs
  • Retrospective funding (we will not reimburse costs incurred)
  • Activities that primarily promote religious belief
  • Projects that do not meet our Additionality criteria
  • If your project is applying for a school or education establishment it should ensure it opens opportunities for the wider community as we will not fund projects used solely for delivering curriculum activity. Sport England has produced toolkits to help open up school sites for community use.
  • Any revenue projects – staffing, coaching, and on-going costs such as energy. 
  • Projects solely focused on playing field improvements (you must apply to the Protecting Playing Fields programme). You can find out more about this programme here.
  • Any project that has a high instance of professional costs

If you have an unusual project which you think may not be eligible, please call our Funding Helpline on 0345 8508 508 or email us to discuss it before starting work on your application form.

What should I include in our project costs?

Your project costs must include all costs that your project will incur- this allows us to ensure that the total project cost (TPC) is realistic and fits within our project criteria as being eligible.

 The TPC will also show the breakdown of where the funding is coming from- if you have requested funding from elsewhere we will need to have this evidenced- this can be in the form of a letter on headed paper or an email with the companies email details.

Any requests for AGP or MUGA must include the dimension of the playing surface –this will ensure that we are able to calculate value for money on the project and that it suits the need of the sports that potentially will be using it

You can use the Inspired Facilities catalogue to help you work out costs, plan your budget and gather the information you need for your application form- you do not have to use it. We will accept applications for items not listed but you will need to work out the costs- we suggest you use an appropriately qualified person, such as a quantity or building surveyor to do this.

We have also pulled together a group of contractors – if you wish to use one of these contractors please tick the box on the application form. The contractor if you are successful will do all the work for you-this includes checking your budget costs, applying for necessary statutory approvals or planning permission, doing the work and preparing maintenance manuals.

You should ensure your costs provide for a project that ideally meets Sport England's design and cost guidance. This brings together our best practice design advice and requirements for a wide range of sports facility and building types.

Should I include VAT in my project costs?

If you are unable to recover VAT - or you think you are unable to – you should include 20% VAT in the project costs section of the application. This is because your grant request can include non-recoverable VAT but it is your responsibility to determine your organisation’s VAT status and make appropriate provision. If you are not sure then please include VAT and we can resolve this in the event that you are successful. Sport England cannot provide any advice as to your organisation’s VAT liability

If you are unable to recover VAT then you will need to calculate 20% VAT on the items selected from the catalogue and add this to the total project costs and grant request in your application.

If you are unsure please visit the HMRC website.

All costs in the Inspired Facilities catalogue are exclusive of VAT. 

When will I find out if I've been successful

Once you have submitted your application and we are happy that it is complete it will be assessed and will be put forward to the next available decision panel. You will be notified by telephone once the outcome has been made.

What happens if my application is unsuccessful?

We expect to receive a lot of applications so a significant number will not be successful. If your application is unsuccessful we will write to you and explain why. 

What happens if my application is successful?

If your application is successful, you will be given a conditional award. The conditions must be met before you can claim your funding, but we will provide support to help you through the process. We also ask that you promote your project as much as possible using the guidance available on our website:

Your project must be able to start within six months of your award and be open to the community within 18 months.

Contractors and Pre-Feasibility Reports

  • If you are using a Sport England approved contractor we will arrange for them to visit your site to help us confirm the project costs. They will identify whether building regulations or planning permission are required, or if there is anything unusual about your site.
  • We may also decide during the assessment of your application that your project would benefit from a Pre-Feasibility report – if this is the case we will advise you and provide help and support with a list of consultants for you to contact to arrange a visit. Once this report has been completed we will discuss the findings with you and decide on the next steps.

The length of your funding agreement varies according to the size of your grant:

Grant amount

Grant period

£20,000 to   £50,000

7 years

£50,001 to   £99,999

10 years

£100,000 and   above

15 years


Sport England will also have step-in rights. This means that if your organisation finds itself in financial trouble, we can step-in and take over the project with a view to selling it to pay off your debts.

What measurement and evaluation will we need to complete?

Your project’s success will be measured on the contribution it makes to Sport England’s aspiration of getting more people playing more sport more often.

You will need to record the number of times individuals take part in sport at your facility (also called throughput) and report these numbers to us every six months for five years.

Sport England has commissioned an independent research company to evaluate the impact of the Inspired Facilities programme. This company may contact you to ask about your project and may request that the figures are broken down into age groups. 0-13, 14-25 and 26+

If they do contact you, your input would be very much appreciated.  

Can we pay for the fees of a consultant or bid writer?

No. Under Inspired Facilities any fees associated with writing the application are ineligible. The programme has been designed to enable club members to write applications on behalf of their organisation. The application form has been well tested over a number of funding rounds and the feedback from all types of applicants are complimentary on how simple and straightforward it is to complete, even for those with limited experience of writing applications for funding. 

The Sport England Funding Helpline (0345 8508 508) is available to offer advice and support to anyone writing an application for funding under this programme.