Top

Top

Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting:  13 April, 2015

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Visible and Leisure Services

 

Jenner Park Stadium - Outcome of 3G Pitch Feasibility Study

 

Purpose of the Report

1.          To provide Cabinet with details of the feasibility study relating to the possible installation of a 3rd Generation (3G) synthetic sports pitch at Jenner Park Stadium, Barry and of ongoing work aimed at informing a future decision on the playing surface and the operation and management of the stadium and associated buildings.

Recommendations

1.          That Cabinet note the contents of the feasibility study and the further work being undertaken to inform decisions on the future playing surface and property management arrangements at Jenner Park.

2.          That a further report is provided to Cabinet prior to the end of May 2015 recommending the most appropriate options for the future of the Jenner Park Stadium.

3.          That a further report be provided to Cabinet detailing options for Court Road Depot that could complement any proposed future uses for Jenner Park Stadium. 

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.          To apprise members.

2.          To enable Cabinet to take a decision on the future of Jenner Park with the benefit of all relevant information.

3.          To review whether there is scope to use a parcel of available land at Court Road Depot for car parking and other complementary uses to Jenner Park and the local area.     

Background

2.          At its meeting of 16th June 2014, Cabinet received a report seeking authority to undertake a feasibility study into the possible installation of a 3G synthetic playing surface at Jenner Park Stadium, Barry.  It was resolved:

1.  That the appointment of suitable consultants to undertake a detailed study to identify all costs and income opportunities relating to the construction, hire and maintenance of a 3G facility at Jenner Park, including consultation with potential stakeholders, local clubs and schools, to assess demand be authorised.

2.  That on conclusion of the study and prior to the end of the calendar year, a further report be presented to a future meeting of Cabinet proposing a way forward based on the data received.

 

Reasons for decisions:

 

1.  To authorise a feasibility study to consider whether a 3G synthetic sports pitch would be both appropriate and cost effective at the Jenner Park Stadium.

2.  To allow Cabinet to take a decision on any proposal with the benefit of all available data in time for possible construction during 2015 / 16.

 

3.          The feasibility study has now been concluded.  There have been delays in presenting the outcome of this study to Cabinet due to further clarity being required on a number of issues identified within the study.  A copy of the feasibility study scope is outlined in Appendix 1 and a full copy of the feasibility report is outlined in Appendix 2.  The Feasibility report (Appendix 2) features internal appendices A, B, E, F, G within the body of the main report pages 1 - 19.  Appendices C and D to the Feasibility report are located at the rear of the papers as these are separate technical reports.  (Copies of the Appendices are available in the Member's Room and available to view on Vale of Glamorgan Council website).

4.          Although the detailed feasibility study is very detailed, further information is still required to permit an informed decision to be made as to the way forward for both the playing surface and the stadium clubhouse and associated buildings. This report highlights the main priorities identified within the feasibility study and sets out the further work required to enable a more comprehensive report to be presented in the very near future.       

5.          The Council's Reshaping Services Programme requires that all possible options for service delivery be considered in an effort to reduce future service costs.  Although Jenner Park is the Council's premier outdoor sporting venue, its operating costs are significant.  The 2013 / 2014 operating cost was £165k and the projected operating cost for 2014 / 2015 is £161k.  Every effort will have to be made to ensure that the future Stadium costs at least match the income generated, to avoid its future operation being jeopardised.

6.          Cabinet is reminded that the main reason for the feasibility study was to reduce the ongoing revenue costs for the Stadium whilst also providing a more reliable playing surface which had greater accessibility than the current surface which is laid to grass. In the previous report, it was pointed out that any increased stadium use would have a positive impact on the options for the future management of the currently vacant clubhouse and associated buildings and that this could provide both a sporting and social opportunity for the local area.

Relevant Issues and Options

7.          Just Solutions Leisure Consultants were appointed to undertake the 3G pitch feasibility study.  As previously advised, their report is attached at Appendix 2.

8.          In reviewing the Council's current management arrangements for its leisure facilities, the consultants advise, 'Jenner Park is not only the most expensive leisure facility per use for the public purse, but it is also viewed as a potential yet untapped source of income generation'.

9.          As the feasibility report recognises, one of the crucial drivers for this piece of work was the requirement to reduce the costs of ongoing maintenance at Jenner Park.

10.       Additionally, the stadium is under-utilised, mainly due to the relative vulnerability of the current playing surface.  The grass surface is sensitive to weather impacts and, in order to safeguard its condition for the playing of higher league Welsh football for the current licence holders, its use is strictly limited.  This situation becomes more acute during prolonged periods of wet weather.

11.       If the use of the stadium could be increased, this would make the currently vacant clubhouse buildings more viable and this is recognised within the feasibility report.  As advised, there is also a possibility that this increased activity could assist in regenerating the area in close proximity to the stadium by providing additional leisure and social opportunities to local residents.

12.       Any increased use of the stadium would place demands on car parking which is currently in short supply.  It is suggested that, as a separate piece of work, consideration be given to utilising a section of the Depot at Court Road for car parking, potentially along with other comprehensively master planned complementary uses, which could again help to regenerate the local area.  It is proposed that this be the subject of a future report to Cabinet.

13.       At page 10 of the executive summary, the feasibility report (Appendix 2) identifies 3 possible 'principal options' for Jenner Park that require further consideration. One of these options was not within the scope provided to the consultants and suggests that consideration be given to locating a 3G surface at the Colcot Sports Centre. This does not in any way address the main requirement of the feasibility study brief for Jenner Park. Whilst this could be a consideration for the future, should sufficient grant or private funding become available, it will not be considered in this report.  On page 11 of the executive summary, the report suggests the following next steps:

(i)         "Discussions with Parkwood Leisure required Colcot and formal consideration of Jenner Park options - business case for club house and 3G alongside other development opportunities on site to maximise income and impact.

(ii)         Discussions with clubs to test the appetite to establish a Community Interest (CIC) Stadium Company

(iii)        Calculate the prudential borrowing capacity required following the establishment of a CIC and the reduction in Jenner Park running costs.

(iv)        Consider relocation of athletics and wider range of site redevelopment options to maximise overall impact and all round gains."          

14.       Since the feasibility report has been produced, officers have received draft operating proposals for a 3G pitch from two sources which show potential for financial benefit. Whilst neither proposal can be taken forward in this form at this stage due to procurement rules, they do provide an early indication of a market for 3G and an operator at Jenner Park.

15.       Regarding the steps set out at paragraph 13, it is proposed that point (i) be considered first, with others investigated, (if necessary), after this step has been concluded. This is primarily due to the fact that operations at Jenner Park could be considered a legitimate extension to the current Leisure Management Contract with Parkwood and if so could allow management operations and the terms of a 3G facility at Jenner Park to be negotiated, with no requirement to progress what could prove to be a costly procurement process, just to establish if a 3G facility is the most appropriate option.

16.       There is also some concern that any artificial surface at Jenner Park could reduce Parkwood's current income levels, as the playing of football could shift from our other sites that are currently within their contract.

17.       Officers are currently in the process of taking legal advice to establish if operations at Jenner Park could be added to the current Parkwood contract and this is one of the matters that will be reported to Cabinet in the further report scheduled for May this year. As advised, the other steps indicated in the study will not be considered until this one is concluded, as it is felt that none of them offer the same potential for income generation and robust future management arrangements as point (i).

18.       Officers have already entered into without prejudice discussions with Parkwood who have indicated their interest in adding Jenner Park, with a 3G playing surface, to their current Vale leisure portfolio. They have suggested the addition of a further 3 No. 3G 5 A Side pitches at Jenner Park at the rear of the Stadium in order to capture the maximum operating income and this is currently being considered.               

19.       In addition to the continuing discussions with Parkwood in preparation for the forthcoming legal opinion on contract variations, officers are undertaking the following additional work in order to inform the forthcoming report:

(a)        A drainage survey - To ensure that any 3G surface will appropriately drain and to obtain the full costs of any new drainage infrastructure.

(b)        A lighting survey - The provision of a 3G surface will require a change to LED lighting to reduce operating costs. The details and cost of this work are required.

(c)        A review of any possible grant funding - Grant funding is available for the provision of 3G facilities and officers have met with representatives of the Football Association of Wales to examine if such funding could be available for Jenner Park.

(d)        An estimate of construction costs - An estimate for the full construction costs of both a 3G surface on the full size pitch and up to 3 No. 5 A Side pitches is required.

(e)        An estimate of the cost of works required to the changing rooms and club house - It will be necessary to create additional changing rooms in the area of the current skittle alley and to upgrade the shower systems. It will also be necessary to undertake certain other building maintenance works to enable the clubhouse and associated buildings to be put back into useful service.

(f)         An estimate of income projections for a 3G surface - This would assume the worst case scenario; that the facility of 1 full size 3G pitch and 3 no. 5 A Side pitches would be operated by the Vale directly in the short to medium term. This work is close to completion.                                         

20.       The above work is ongoing with completion expected by the end of April 2015. This and the potential effects of any options on current and future users of the stadium will be considered within the further Cabinet report.

21.       As previously advised any increased use of the Stadium would place a greater demand on car parking and this will be considered in a further report later in 2015/16 which will review the current operations at Court Road Depot, to establish if additional off road car parking can be created, perhaps supplemented by other  complementary uses for part of the currently unused Depot area.

22.       The needs of Athletics at the site are also being considered as part of the additional research being undertaken but it can be confirmed that the 400 m track would remain in any redevelopment.  It is also expected that all the existing athletic field sports can be maintained at Jenner, albeit some would not meet competition standards.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

23.       The actual revenue spend at Jenner Park for 2013/14 was £165k with a spend projection for 2014/15 of £161k. In both financial years there was an element of additional stadium work / repairs.  Although the 2015/16 budget for Jenner Park is £93k the projected annual spend for the proper operation of the sand dressed grass pitch is between £100k and £150k, depending on the level of pre-season work and repairs required to the stadium. This assumes a similar level of paid use to the 2014/15 period. Income levels are restricted by the 'strength' of the grass pitch. Which, regardless of maintenance schedules, will only withstand a limited number of games per week.      

24.       The total amount that has currently been set aside in a provision for Jenner Park improvements is £795k.  The cost of the feasibility study was £17k and this was funded via the provision. The existing grass pitch currently suffers from drainage problems and these would be exacerbated with any 3G surface. A drainage study has been commissioned at a cost of £25k that will serve to inform future drainage arrangements whichever surface is ultimately chosen. This will also be funded from the Jenner Park Provision.

25.       The costs for legal advice will also be funded from the Provision.  Administration costs associated with obtaining estimates etc. will be funded from existing Parks and Grounds Maintenance budgets. 

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications            

26.       The provision of local facilities reduces the need to travel, hence reducing the carbon footprint.  Increased sporting opportunities would also help to regenerate the local community in the vicinity of the stadium.

Legal Implications (to include Human Rights Implications)           

27.       Whilst the potential legal implications of one possible option for the future management of Jenner Park are touched on within this report, there are no direct legal implications associated with the recommendations of this report. 

Crime and Disorder Implications

28.       The provision of good community facilities will serve to reduce crime in the area and provide security for the facility.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

29.       Any proposed new pitch surface could help to address a number of sporting and recreational needs for a range of sectors within the community and wider Vale area.

Corporate/Service Objectives

30.       The Corporate Priority and Service aim is to: "To achieve a quality of the environment through the promotion and use of sustainable practices and by making the best use of current and future resources".

31.       The Service Objective is "To provide, manage and maintain Parks, open spaces and play areas".

Policy Framework and Budget

32.       This report is within the policy framework and budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

33.       Consultation was undertaken as part of the feasibility study.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

34.       Economy and Environment.

Background Papers

None

 

Contact Officer

Miles Punter - Director of Visible Services and Housing - 02920673101

 

Officers Consulted

Financial Accountant - Visible Services

Committee Reports

Group Manager - Estates

Operational Manager, Leisure and Tourism

Principal Landscape Architect

Major Projects

 

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter, Director of Visible Services and Housing