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LUTON PLAYING PITCH STRATEGY
2014 - 2021
CONTENTS



PART 1: INTRODUCTION 3

PART 2: SUMMARY FROM THE ASSESSMENT REPORT 5

PART 3: A STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK FOR FACILITY IMPROVEMENTS 12

PART 4: OBJECTIVES 15

PART 5: PRIORITISATION LIST 34

PART 6: CONCLUSIONS 52

PART 7: MONITORING AND REVIEW 53

APPENDIX ONE: STRATEGIC CONTEXT 54

APPENDIX TWO: FUNDING PLAN 61


PART 1: INTRODUCTION

This is the Playing Pitch Strategy (PPS) for Luton. Building upon the preceding Assessment Report, it provides a clear, strategic framework for the maintenance and improvement of existing outdoor sports facilities and ancillary facilities between 2014 and 2021:




  • Inform planning policy within the emerging Luton Local Plan policies in terms of protection and enhancement of provision.

  • Provide adequate planning guidance to assess development proposals affecting playing fields;

  • Inform land use decisions in respect of future use of existing outdoor sports areas and playing fields (capable of accommodating pitches) within the Borough;

  • Provide a strategic framework for the provision and management of outdoor sports in the Borough;

  • Support external funding bids and maximise support for outdoor and informal sports facilities;

  • Provide the basis for on-going monitoring and review of the use, distribution, function, quality and accessibility of outdoor sport.


1.1 Scope
The strategy covers all of the outdoor pitch sports as well as non-pitch sports as follows:


  • Football pitches

  • Cricket pitches

  • Rugby union pitches

  • Artificial Grass Pitches (AGPs) including sand based/filled, water based and 3G surfaces

  • Bowling greens

  • Gaelic football pitches

  • Golf courses

  • Netball courts

  • Tennis courts

  • Athletics tracks

  • Informal sports


1.2: Structure
The Strategy will be developed from research and analysis of outdoor sports facilities and usage, including informal activity within Luton and it will provide:


  • A vision for the future improvement and prioritisation of outdoor sports (including ancillary facilities).

  • A series of generic strategic objectives which provide a strategic framework for the improvement, maintenance, development and, as appropriate, rationalisation of the stock.

  • A series of sport by sport objectives which provide a strategic framework for sport led improvements to provision.

  • A prioritised area-by-area action plan to address key issues.

  • A series of strategic objectives which provide a strategic framework for measuring the impact of participation in informal sporting activity in Luton to inform the health agenda.

The Strategy and Action Plan will recommend a number of priority projects for Luton, which should be implemented from 2014 to 2021. The Strategy and Action Plan is outlined to provide a framework and, although resources may not currently be in place to implement it, potential partners and possible sources of external funding will be identified.


There is a need to build key partnerships with NGBs, Sport England, schools, community clubs and private landowners to maintain and improve playing pitch provision. In these instances the potential for the Council to take a strategic lead is more limited (except in terms of developer contributions). This document will provide clarity about the way forward, and allow the Council to focus on key issues that it can directly influence and achieve.
1.3: Strategic Vision for Sport and Physical Activity (April 2013)
The overarching strategy for sport in Luton is set out in The Strategic Vision for Sport and Physical Activity (2013). It is a corporate document of which the playing pitch strategy fits into. The Playing Pitch Strategy informs the vision for sport and its action plan.
The vision ensures that the Council’s investment into sport effectively contributes to the authority’s overall outcomes. Beyond this, a vision for sport in Luton will provide:


  • Clarity of priorities in times of austerity

  • A means of securing resources through a clear, needs-based approach

  • Ability to maximise use of resources through informed decision making

  • A meaningful post 2012 legacy

  • A framework to realise Luton’s sporting ambitions

The importance of health and wellbeing is also high on the agenda for Luton. This strategy also aims to improve levels of participation in physical activity in children and adults by improving access to playing pitches. This will have a positive impact on health inequalities by improving future provision, maximising current outdoor pitches and enabling key partners to work together. Long term it is envisaged that the prevalence rates of physically active adults will improve. In addition improving cohesion in communities and increasing the number of active older people, young people, woman and girls, residents from the BME communities, and people with a disability taking part in sport will provide an opportunity to enhance residents aspirations and personal life skills.


PART 2: SUMMARY FROM THE ASSESSMENT REPORT

This section summarises the key issues identified from the Assessment Report.


2.1: Football – grass pitches


  • The audit identifies a total of 125 football pitches in Luton. Of these, 101 (46 sites) are available, at some level, for community use (although not necessarily used).

  • A total of 240 teams are identified as Luton based team, however, 208 play in Luton. Of these, five teams are playing on 3G pitch provision.

  • There are no suitable sites in Luton to service Step 5 and above clubs, for example, Crawley Green FC, resulting in displaced demand. Step 5 of the football pyramid contains leagues which have strict facility requirements such as perimeter pitch fencing and appropriate changing accommodation. The pitch also needs to be built to meet the requirements for league cup finals.

  • There is a need to consider asset transfer as a way to make facilities more sustainable

  • In addition, 32 teams are identified as being from Luton but actually play outside of the Borough. This is primarily thought to be due to a lack of access to good quality pitches.

  • At peak time, most sites expressing potential capacity are actually unavailable and should, therefore not be counted as spare capacity. Of the 40 pitches with spare capacity and available for community use, 26.5 pitches are available within the peak period (66%). This equates to 53 match equivalent sessions per week as actual spare capacity.

  • Overall in Luton there are sufficient adult pitches to accommodate over-play, unmet demand, latent demand and future demand. Overall there is an oversupply of 6.5 match equivalent sessions (4 pitches). No areas are deficient in adult pitches.

  • Overall in Luton there are sufficient youth pitches to accommodate over-play, unmet demand, latent demand and future demand. However there are slight shortfalls in Luton North and West.

  • Overall in Luton there are sufficient mini pitches to accommodate over-play, unmet demand, latent demand and future demand. Overall there is spare capacity of 5.5 match equivalent sessions (three pitches). However Luton East is deficient by 0.5 match equivalent sessions per week.


2.1.1: Football – Artificial Grass Pitches (AGP)


  • The FA model suggests that there are enough 3G pitches (once the new pitch at Lea Manor Recreation Centre has been converted) to service current football training demand in Luton. However, local demand suggests that more access to 3G provision may be needed, although pricing is also a key factor for clubs.

  • Currently there is not a high demand for competitive fixtures to be played on 3G pitches in Luton. However, if the quality of grass pitches deteriorates there may be a future increase in demand to play matches on 3G pitches.


2.2: Cricket


  • In total, there are 11 cricket pitches provided in Luton, of which only one is unavailable for community use (at Icknield High School which is a junior pitch). Cricket pitches accommodate 42 senior teams and 8 junior teams.

  • Site assessments scored one pitch as good quality (Luton Town & Indians CC) and the other nine as standard quality.

  • There is a need to consider asset transfer as a way to make facilities more sustainable.

  • It is reported that a large number of players (approximately 100) travel outside of the Borough to access cricket pitches and a higher standard of play. This is attributed to both a lack of pitches in Luton as well as a lack of higher quality pitches.

  • It has been highlighted that significant informal play takes place at parks sites in Luton. Due to the difficulties in providing robust quantitative data for this type of demand it is likely that the deficiencies identified are greater than stated.

  • Overplay at cricket sites in Luton is a total of 45 matches across the Borough per season. If all overplay was to be relocated to other sites there would be a need for one additional cricket ground (based on a cricket square with 10 wickets).

  • Unmet demand cannot be accommodated on the current supply of pitches and equates to the need for four additional cricket grounds (based on a square with 10 wickets).

  • As over play and unmet demand cannot be met due to pitches being at capacity there is no spare capacity to accommodate any latent or future demand which requires an additional 11 pitches (based on a cricket square with 10 wickets).


2.3: Rugby union
In total, there are 12 senior and two mini rugby pitches located across nine sites in Luton. Of these, nine pitches are available for community use and used.


  • Those pitches that are unavailable for community use are located on school sites. The poor quality (drainage) is a significant factor in these pitches not being available to use.

  • Club pitches are generally of an adequate or good quality. Only the senior pitch at Stockwood Park is assessed as poor quality.

  • All training takes place on grass pitches in Luton; there is no dedicated IRB1 pitch. Training on the pitches adds to the wear and tear and impacts on the quality and carrying capacity. A related issue is a lack of floodlighting for training provision.

  • Due to the large amount of demand for training there is a need for an IRB compliant AGP. This would be best placed in the South Analysis Area.

  • There is no reported, unmet, displaced or latent demand for rugby pitches in Luton.

  • There is no peak time spare capacity for usage of pitches. However, one new women’s team will be accommodated on spare Sunday capacity at Luton RFC next season.

  • Overplay (of 9.5 matches per week) is due to the amount of training usage being accommodated on match pitches.


  • Increasing the quality of the senior pitch at Stockwood Park would help to increase capacity. However, it should be noted that Stockwood Park is in an area of County Wildlife Site designation and of considerable archaeological interest. This may reduce options for improvement, e.g. new pipe drainage systems may require an archaeological survey.

  • Future demand resulting from population growth equates to the need for access to one senior and one mini pitch.


2.4: Hockey

  • In total, five clubs play competitive fixtures in Luton, fielding a total of 21 teams.

  • There are four full sized sand based AGPs suitable to accommodate competitive hockey. Of these, three are floodlit and all are available for community use.

  • One (floodlit) pitch at Lea Manor is imminently due to be converted into a 3G surface.

  • Two pitches are assessed as good quality and two as poor quality (including Lea Manor).

  • The lack of floodlights at Luton 6th Form AGP reduces capacity for winter training; therefore, clubs which play competitive fixtures there must train at Venue 360, which is assessed as poor quality.

  • Luton Town Hockey Club is the only hockey user of Challney Girls School AGP; however, there is spare capacity for training in the evenings.

  • Ancillary facilities are highlighted as a problem for clubs as all clubs must travel off site, away from the pitch, to access clubhouse facilities.

  • No unmet demand was identified in Luton, however, latent demand for three senior and three junior teams was reported. The current supply of pitches could not accommodate this demand for both training and matches due to poor quality (at Venue 360) and lack of floodlighting (Luton 6th Form College).



2.5: Bowls


  • There are ten bowling greens in Luton provided across nine sites.

  • All greens in Luton are assessed as good quality. In terms of the views from clubs, only one club (Luton West End Bowls Club) reports that the green was slightly poorer than the previous year. Vandalism is or has been an issue at some sites.

  • Luton West End Bowls Club reports demand for improved ancillary facilities that could lead to having more members. In addition Luton West End Bowls Club, Wardown Park Bowls Club and Sunlea Bowls Club report demand for increased green access for wheelchair players.

  • There are eight clubs using bowling greens in Luton with an average playing membership of 40. The majority of clubs suggest that an additional bowling green at their home green or in the area would not lead to an increase in club membership.

  • Junior participation is low in Luton and none of the clubs report having junior members. There is a general issue with older members not being replaced by younger players; most are aging teams.

  • Notwithstanding that there may be additional demand for bowling greens in the future; there is an approximate current oversupply of three greens in Luton based on a membership capacity analysis. Just considering Council greens, there is a current oversupply of two greens.


2.6: Gaelic football


  • There are two Gaelic football clubs in Luton; Claddagh Gaels and St Vincent’s GAA Club.

  • There is one Gaelic pitch at Leagrave Park (good quality) and one at Stockwood Park (standard quality).

  • The ancillary facilities are perceived to be fit for purpose and adequate although there are reports that other sports such as cricket are given priority over changing room access.

  • Car parking is described as inadequate at Leagrave Park.

  • Although current demand is being met in Luton, it is thought likely that any increase in demand will lead to the need for more pitches.

  • A school’s programme is to be rolled out in 2014 and is likely to lead to an increase in demand for Gaelic football pitches.


2.7: Golf


  • There is one golf course in Luton provided at Stockwood Park comprising of an 18 hole course, a driving range and a 9 hole course.

  • Membership at the Club has generally remained static in the previous three years and there is no waiting list to join. Although the Club reports that it is not operating at membership capacity, it has to balance this with pay and play usage of the course.

  • Almost all Luton residents are serviced by a golf course within a 20 minute drive time. Although there are some small pockets of deficiencies where residents are not serviced by a 20 minute drive time this is unlikely to equate to the need for an additional golf course as people have a higher propensity to drive to golf courses.

  • If the development at Tea Green Course was to go ahead analysis would need to be carried out to identify whether Stockwood Park would be able to accommodate the increase in demand.


2.8: Netball


  • There are 41 netball courts identified within Luton with varying degrees of quality. All courts are located on education sites.

  • 27 teams compete in the Luton, Dunstable and District outdoor league. Only four of the teams are from outside of Luton. The number of teams has remained largely static over the previous three years.

  • Despite a formal community use agreement (CUA) being in place at Challney High School the League reports that attempted access to the courts for senior matches has been unsuccessful.

  • All demand for matches is accommodated on the current supply of courts and this is supported by the League which suggests that there are generally enough courts in Luton to satisfy demand.

  • There are also enough courts that could be accessed if the League was to grow further.

  • Overall the Luton League manages on the courts that are at its disposal but moving forward would benefit from the development opportunities that a Central Venue facility (i.e. 4/5/ 6 outdoor courts) would bring.


2.9: Tennis


  • There are 65 tennis courts identified within Luton of which 13 are parks tennis courts.

  • The one club in Luton is Luton & Vauxhall Lawn tennis club with a membership of 160 juniors and 110 adults.

  • Although availability of courts at the Club is not a particular issue, the Club reports that it is operating at capacity at peak time for matches. It identifies potential for two more courts to be created on the overflow car park land if required.

  • Council parks courts are free to use and are open access. Wardown Park is the most used site.

  • Quality at parks sites could be improved as all are assessed as standard quality; however they are fit for purpose and provide a recreational standard of court.


2.10: Athletics


  • There is one athletics track in Luton located at Stockwood Park. The track is certified Grade A and is of a good enough standard to hold county competitions. It was re-laid 18 months ago and is suitable to satisfy demands from the Club.

  • There is demand for a separate throwing area, with new circles planned for 2014. This is critical to retain the existing track certification.


2.11: Key priorities to address
Using the key issues identified in the Assessment Report, the following priorities are identified for each sport and provide the context for the development of the aims and objectives within the Strategy.
Football:


  • A lack of football pitches/sites in Luton to service clubs at Step 5 and above, for example, Crawley Green FC, resulting in displaced demand. Alongside this there is the need for a cup final standard pitch.

  • Current overplay resulting in the need for two additional youth (11v11) pitches in the North analysis area.

  • Small (equivalent to less than one pitch) deficiencies in youth pitches (11v11) in the East.

  • Future demand to 2021 for two youth (11v11) and one (9v9) pitches.

  • A lack of available football pitches on education sites.

  • Surplus of youth 11v11 pitches in the South.

  • Continue to monitor the future demand for 3G AGPs.

  • Consider the need for asset transfer as a way to make facilities more sustainable.


Cricket:


  • Current overplay and unmet demand resulting in the need for five additional cricket grounds (based on a cricket square with ten wickets).

  • Future and latent demand resulting in the need for an additional 11 cricket grounds (based on a cricket square with ten wickets) by 2021, totalling 16 cricket grounds altogether (including current overplay and unmet demand).

  • A lack of available cricket pitches on education sites.

  • The need for more dedicated informal provision.


Rugby union:


  • Increasing the quality of rugby pitches where possible/appropriate to increase capacity.

  • Current overplay from training resulting in the need for five additional senior pitches or the need for an IRB compliant AGP to accommodate this training.

  • Future and latent demand resulting in the need for an additional senior match pitch by 2021, totalling six altogether (including current overplay and unmet demand).

  • Need for additional floodlighting for training pitches.


Hockey:


  • Poor pitch quality at Venue 360 and lack of floodlighting at Luton 6th Form College.

  • Latent demand expressed for three senior and three junior hockey teams.

  • Lack of clubhouse facilities at pitch sites


Bowls:


  • Low junior bowls participation. There is a general issue with older members not being replaced by younger players; most are aging teams.

  • Current oversupply of three greens in Luton based on a membership capacity analysis. Considering only Council greens, there is a current oversupply of two greens.

  • A need to review Council management of greens.


Gaelic football:


  • Future demand for Gaelic football pitches following development work starting in schools in 2014.


Netball:


  • The need for a netball venue with four or more good quality, floodlit courts to accommodate tournaments and junior central venue competitions.


Golf:


  • The need to protect and maintain current standard of Stockwood Park Golf Course.


Tennis:


  • Quality at parks sites could be improved as all are assessed as standard quality; however they are fit for purpose and provide a recreational standard of court.

  • Luton & Vauxhall Lawn Tennis Club is operating at capacity at peak time.


Athletics:


  • The need to protect and maintain the current standard of track at Stockwood Park, and to accommodate demand for a separate throwing area which is critical to retain the Grade A quality certificate of the track.


Education:




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