Spatial planning has a fundamental role to play in ensuring that open space and sport and recreation facilities are in the right place with a sufficient quantity of them.

Spatial planning must also play a role in ensuring that such spaces and facilities are high quality, attractive to users and well managed and maintained.

The Open Space Audit 2015 records the position of open space at that time and served as an update to the Open Space Audit 2012.  The surveys were undertaken in June 2015 and it establishes quantitative, qualitative and accessibility standards for each of the adopted open space typologies and explains the assessment methodology behind the application of the standards.

Open Space Audit / Review 2012

The Open Space Audit 2012 recorded the quantitative position of open space at that time and served as a brief update to the Open Space Review 2006. The latter established quantitative, qualitative and accessibility standards for each of the adopted open space typologies, explaining the assessment methodology behind the application of the standards and providing worked examples of their application to aid developers.

Playing pitch strategy

An updated Playing Pitch Needs Assessment (PPNA) and associated Playing Pitch Strategy (PPS) is currently being prepared in line with paragraph 73 of the NPPF and in accordance with Sport England’s 'Playing Pitch Strategy Guidance: an approach to developing and delivering a playing pitch strategy' to reflect current best practice for the analysis of provision of sports facilities.

The PPNA identifies and assesses the provision of the following key sports:

  • Football
  • Rugby Union
  • Rugby League
  • Cricket
  • Hockey

The PPS assesses existing pitch provision for both natural and artificial grass playing pitches and where new provision is needed on a Neighbourhood basis (see note 1 below).  It'll provide recommendations relating to individual sites that have issues and a framework for the maintenance and improvement of existing provision and ancillary facilities for the life of the Local Plan.

Whilst the study has not yet been completed initial indications are that there are shortfalls of pitch provision across the Borough. In particular there are pressures on junior football and rugby league pitches as well as senior football pitches. In most areas of the Borough, there's a significant issue in relation to the quality of the pitches (primarily in terms of poor drainage) and the quality or lack of changing rooms.

(Note 1: We operates four Neighbourhood Area Boards to support the delivery of the Corporate Plan, Active Warrington Strategy, Health and Wellbeing Strategy and specifically the Neighbourhood Area Plans, Tier 1 Action Plans, Closing the Gap Plans and local community action plans.  Each Board constitutes a partnership of organisations including the council, health, police, community, faith and voluntary groups, businesses and residents.)

Sports Facilities Strategic Needs Assessment

The Warrington Sports Facilities Strategic Needs Assessment (SFSNA) as adopted by Executive Board in April 2015.  The document gives an understanding of the needs and demands of built sports facility provision within the borough.  The  Assessment provides us with a clear understanding of facility needs locally.  It takes into consideration all the provision that currently exists in Warrington and cross-references this with the current and future needs of the Borough’s population.

The assessment identifies and assesses the provision of the following key facility types:

  • Indoor swimming pools
  • Sports halls
  • Health and fitness suites
  • Specialist sporting facilities including athletics, cycling and indoor tennis

The key findings and actions focuses on Sports Facilities currently that we own, many of which are currently operated by external organisations through management arrangements.

The key findings can be summarised as follows:

  • There's a need to ensure investment is sought to support retention of viable existing sports facilities that provide or could provide for community use in particular where needs may not meet demand or may not do so in the future.
  • There's a need to focus on improving the sustainability of sports facility sites.
  • There's a need to influence new housing developments to contribute towards the development and enhancement of sports facilities to meet identified need and any increased demand generated by such developments.
  • There's a need to ensure appropriate investment is sought to maintain quality levels and assist with the retention of current and recruitment of new participants/ users.
  • There's a need to improve accessibility to sports facilities, in particular for people with disabilities, in order to encourage greater participation by all segments of the community.
  • There's a need to regularly review levels of supply and demand to identify any surpluses or deficiencies in the future.

Section 4 of the SFSNA outlines in more detail the key findings and resultant actions required for the specific facility types.