The way public leisure and physical activity facilities are designed and built in the UK could be transformed, as part of a vision to make public health and leisure sectors work closer together.
The plans are outlined in the long-awaited Future of Public Leisure Report, published by Sport England this week.
Built on social prescribing, co-location of services and the delivery of preventative activity opportunities, the report sets out a new approach designed to provide users with convenient places and ways to be active, located in close proximity to other health and social care services and facilities.
“Co-location of facilities maximises the impact and value for money of these services and forms a key part of the 20-minute neighbourhood concept,” the report says.
The report provides an overview of the current landscape of public leisure and outlines a model that, according to Sport England CEO, Tim Hollingsworth, will be “more sustainable”.
“Public leisure facilities and services have a vital and unique role to play in our sport and activity ecosystem because of their value to the people who use them most,” Hollingsworth said.
“Months after the pandemic restrictions were lifted, participation levels at public leisure facilities have only partially recovered.
“Facilities have also had to battle rising energy costs, chemical shortages and challenges in maintaining the right levels of recruitment and retention of the workforce. However, the sector has come together to meet these challenges and, where possible, turn them into opportunities.
“Collectively the focus should be on repositioning the traditional offer of public leisure into an active wellbeing service, doing more to create healthier and more active communities.
“The sector has already seen good examples of the shift in approach across the country but also recognises the need for national momentum. By providing this common agenda, we will help the sector move forward in a sustainable way with a service that meets the needs of modern users.”
To dowload and read the full report, click here.