Report on the LDA

Public Consultation Exercise (Nov 2004) - Section B and C

B. Sports in the Park

  1. Appropriateness of Sports Provision in the Park
  2. The existing NSC building
  3. Current sports facilities
  4. Sports facilities in a new or refurbished centre
  5. Non-sports facilities in a new or refurbished centre
  6. Design/Functional requirements for a new or refurbished building
  7. NSC management
  8. Refurbishment or new build?
  9. Sports studies
  10. Other possible uses for the NSC
  11. Sports funding
  12. Conclusions on sports responses

C. The Process of Change

  1. Managing the changes
  2. Comments on the consultation process



B.1 Appropriateness of Sports Provision in the Park (109)

Of those who expressed a view directly on whether there should be any sports provision in the park, the great majority were in favour. These were divided between those who wanted to prioritise national/international level, local use, or both. Very few respondents thought there should be no future provision for sports.

Potential links with the Olympics were also of interest to a few.

Although there seems to be broad support for a "local use plus" approach, the exact mix of community and regional or national facilities will require clarification.


B.2 The Existing NSC Building (115)

Views were divided between those who liked the existing NSC building or found it beautiful (most of whom wanted it saved) and those who found it oppressive or ugly (most of who wanted it demolished).

Throughout the results, views were expressed for or against the building on the grounds of appearance, functionality, siting and historic/personal associations. However, in the responses to the sports options, there appears to be a majority which is willing to countenance either loss of the building, or a change to a non-sports use.


B.3 Current Sports Facilities (168)

General comments were mostly to the effect that the current sports facilities were run down, sub-standard and under-used.

Specific comments were focused particularly on the pool and these included concerns that it was too dirty, too narrow or too cold or that the pool timetable was too erratic or unsuitable for public use, or for particular groups (eg early morning swimmers, children).

There was a handful of other comments on the need to upgrade various aspects of the sports facilities, including the toilets.

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B.4 Sports Facilities in a New or Refurbished Centre (381)

General comments included the need for teaching activities to be built into future provision, the possibility of providing only a narrow range of sports rather than trying to cover everything and the needs of particular groups (eg. the elderly, young people and schools).

Specific comments included:

A range of other suggestions were also made, including squash courts and bringing motor sports and professional football back to the park (which was also opposed by others).


B.5 Non-Sports Facilities in a New/Refurbished Centre (60)

Comments included support for children's facilities and some for a restaurant and sports injury clinic. Other uses less often associated with sports centre (doctor, hairdresser, beauty salon) were mostly opposed.

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B.6 Design/Functional Requirements for a New or Refurbished Building (286)

Lighting, Security & Access (142): This was a major issue, with most comments concerned with the need for easier and safer access, with better lighting, from both public transport and car parks.

Podium (62): comments about the existing podium, mostly in favour of removing it and re-instating the central avenue through the park, but some in favour of keeping it.

Design Standards (45): This group was dominated by the need for good quality architecture and a design that would integrate into the park. Some concerns were also expressed about retaining or reducing the current footprint of the centre.

Entrance (22): comments on the need to redesign, upgrade or move the current entrance.

Accommodation Tower (15): all comments but one were in favour of removing this building.


B.7 NSC Management (30)

Comments focused mainly on the need for good management and maintenance, and improved publicity about sports activities, particularly through an updated website.


B.8 Refurbishment or New Build? (71)

Some respondents made comments about this issue in its own right (although there are many more implicit in the responses to the sports studies). There was an even divide between those who believed the existing building should be retained and/or modernised and those who wanted it replaced and/or demolished. Concerns were also expressed about the need to reduce the footprint of the sports centre, or at least to avoid any increase.

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B.9 Sports Studies

9.1 Study A &endash; Refurbish Existing Building (16)

There was little interest in this study. Those few who liked it did not always give reasons, although the retention of the diving boards was mentioned and this is a theme that is echoed elsewhere in the consultation results.

Those who disliked it generally believed that it would not offer sufficient improvement on the current situation.

9.2 Study B &endash; Swap Wet & Dry Areas in Existing Building (12)

Again, there was little interest in the study. Those who liked it felt it would achieve sufficient improvement without an increase in building footprint and that it was realistic.

Those who disliked it thought that it would waste money without offering much improvement.

9.3 Study C &endash; New Pool on West Side of Existing Building (31)

There was a slight increase in the level of interest compared to studies A & B, but this was still low.

Those who liked it cited realism, cost effectiveness and the fact that it kept the existing building.

Those who disliked it quoted a variety of practical difficulties (eg accessibility, space limitations etc) that would remain unresolved. Concern about loss of diving emerged again here.

9.4 Study D &endash; New Pool at North End of Stadium (33)

This study attracted a similar level of response to C, but with a slightly larger majority in favour. Reasons given included the connection of the various sports facilities whilst retaining the existing NSC building.

Dislikes included a range or reasons, such as cost and access difficulties.

9.5 Study E &endash; New Sports Centre Near Station (57)

This generated a greater level of interest than any of the preceding studies. Reasons given in favour focused on proximity to transport links, ease of access, attractive design and the potential for freeing up the centre of the park.

Dislikes included financial concerns and the fact that it did not provide a solution to the existing building.

A significant number of comments under this study focused on the need to demolish the existing NSC and return the space to parkland.

9.6 Study F &endash; Combined Indoor/Outdoor Sports Facility (342)

This study attracted far more interest and support than any of the others. Reasons given included practicality, viability, visual attractiveness, ease of access and saving space in the park. However, a substantial number supported this study only on the basis that the existing NSC would be demolished and the space returned to parkland.

Most of the small minority of dislikes were based on a wish to remove sports provision from the park altogether.

Other comments covered a very wide range, include financial queries and suggestions on future uses of the stadium.

9.7 Comments on Studies E & F (51)

A substantial number of responses were addressed to either or both of studies E & F.

The majority were in favour of these studies, with reasons focused mainly on concerns about the unsuitability of the location of the existing NSC. Again, however, there were those who felt that they could only support these approaches if the NSC were to be demolished.

Other concerns were expressed about cost.

9.8 Top Site Sports Option (61)

A very small number of respondents supported this, and reasons were not given.

The great majority of those who commented were strongly opposed to it (with comments like "drastic", "disaster") and some made it clear that preservation of the top of the park as open space, or for its heritage value, was more important to them.

9.9 General Comments on Location of Sports Centre (28)

Most of the responses here were concerned with the desirability of locating the sports centre closer to the station.

9.10 Other Comments on the Sports Studies (24)

The most frequent concern was the need for continuity of sports provision during works period.

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B.10 Other Possible Uses for the NSC ( 43)

Concerns were expressed about the need to avoid the existing NSC building remaining unused and falling into dereliction. Various suggestions for alternative uses were made, focusing mainly on leisure and cultural activities.


B.11 Sports Funding (19)

This group comprised a handful of comments about the need for investment and possible funding sources.


B.12 Conclusions on Sports Responses

A number of clear themes appear to emerge from the sports data.

Firstly, although the consultation did not directly pose a question on whether there should be sports facilities in the park, the direct comments on this, taken in conjunction with the enthusiastic response to some of the sports studies, suggests a strong groundswell in favour. By contrast, there were very few comments against it. (This reflects the outcome of earlier discussions in the dialogue group, in which the great majority were also in favour.) The precise balance required between community and elite uses is not yet clear but it appears that many people recognise the need for a combination of the two.

Secondly, there are widespread concerns about the current sports provision, including the condition of the facilities, their visual impact on the park and location and access problems. In terms of its appearance however, the NSC building has both its supporters and its detractors.

Thirdly, Study F was by far the most popular option, but responses to the studies generally indicate an overwhelming majority in favour of the development of a new sports centre rather than refurbishment of the existing building. However, there are significant numbers who could support new-build only provided that the existing building were to be demolished. Concerns about future provision for swimming and diving were particularly prominent.

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C.1 Managing the Changes (72)

The most frequent concerns expressed here were the need for a long term view, involvement of the public, use of appropriate expertise and avoidance of a long period of closure while work is carried out.


C.2 Comments on the Consultation Process (73)

Of those who commented, most expressed appreciation for the consultation (including the creche facilities) and the chance to give their views. However, some were concerned that the marquee should also have been located at the top of the park and others were unsure that the comments being collected would be listened to.

A number of detailed queries were also raised about the contents of the exhibition.


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3/12/2004 Last updated: 3/12/2004