Building communities, not just sports venues

06 Feb 19

Iceni Projects recently submitted an application to develop the ‘Stadium for West Cumbria’, Workington, on behalf of Allerdale Borough Council. The scheme has been designed in collaboration with two local clubs, Workington Town RLFC and Workington AFC, yet the goal is to deliver more than just a sports venue, rather a Stadium that has benefits for the whole community.

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Iceni Projects recently submitted an application to develop the ‘Stadium for West Cumbria’, Workington, on behalf of Allerdale Borough Council. The scheme has been designed in collaboration with two local clubs, Workington TownRLFC and Workington AFC, yet the goal is to deliver more than just a sports venue, rather a Stadium that has benefits for the whole community.

Such a ‘community stadium’ would not only provide world-class sports facilities available to both clubs and the community; but also, a large new primary health care facility; the provision of offices for a large regional employer; and a sporting legacy following a successful bid to host matches for the Rugby League World Cup 2021.

Through such collaboration, the community, clubs and Council are all set to benefit from the investment. This got us thinking about other, high-profile stadium regenerations currently under consideration or construction and how best we ensure such benefits are delivered.

The most immediate example is that of Tottenham’s redevelopment of White Hart Lane, which will be accompanied by extensive redevelopment of the surrounding area. Here, there have been reports of a tension between the club and Haringey Council.

Spurs and the authority are said to have competing visions for the project. The Council’s plans for ‘far reaching benefits’, which includes the development of 2,500 new homes and associated infrastructure, have been labelled asunambitious by Spurs – who say this falls short of the stated objective to create ‘London’s next premier leisure destination’.

Although frustrating, a degree of tension used constructively is often fundamental to achieving schemes that are genuinely an asset to the whole community, not solely for the fans who will call it home. In many cases Councils and Clubs are likely to have differences of opinion, but what ultimately unites both parties is the understanding that sport is rooted in community and very often community is rooted in sport.

Just look at what Manchester City have achieved, with the club’s owners helping to fuel the economic revival of East Manchester and contributing millions to local housing, public leisure, education and health schemes.

Key to this is an approach that puts collaboration and genuine engagement at the forefront of a project, understanding that if a stadium is to be a benefit to the community, then the community itself should play a major role in setting the direction from the start. After all, the community will always be the mutual stakeholder of both parties which should bring them together, even if there are differences of opinion.

(Image Credit: Holmes Miller Architects)

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