Agenda item


            The Committee considered the undernoted report:


“1.0     Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       To seek committee approval for a number of pilot projects across the city using a draft community asset management framework and toolkit to identify future management models to maximise community benefits and ensure community management council facilities can deliver on the outcomes of the Belfast Agenda.


            The sites identified below cover a range of asset types currently being managed within the community.


·        Clarendon Playing Fields;

·        Ulidia Playing Fields;

·        Hammer Pitch, changing rooms & community space;

·        Willowbank Multi Sports Facility;

·        Tullycarnet Park Boxing Club;

·        Former Upper Ardoyne Youth Centre;



2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


·        Approve pilot projects at the 6 proposed sites and move forward with the agreed work streams under our draft Community Asset Framework, working with the existing groups and through a procured partner to support the development of community benefit plans and business case proposals to determine the most appropriate future management model for each of the sites.  The outcomes of this will be used to update our draft framework and the development of a new Community Asset Management policy.   Committee will be kept updated at all stages and any next steps will be subject to Committee sign-off. 


3.0       Main report


            Key Issues


3.1       The Council has a long history of supporting community groups and third sector organisations to deliver services, doing so by permitting community management of council assets. It is believed that communities benefit not only from overall outcomes achieved but also through their direct involvement in the management and programming of community facilities.  The community benefit is generally considered to be greater when achieved via this model than when the council is the direct delivery agent, however community benefit remains unmeasured in most instances.  The ambition of Members in this area is also recognised and therefore it is proposed to conduct a series of pilot projects to measure and evaluate that community benefit. The pilots will cover a range of asset types with differing functions, management models and end user demographics.  


3.2       The pilot projects will utilise a previously untested draft framework and assessment toolkit developed for Council by DTNI. Learning achieved through the application of this work to live examples will inform a future Community Asset Management Policy.  It is recognised that with increasing emphasis on inclusive growth, resilience and wealth building in communities, requests for long term access to council assets will only grow in number. There is now a strong impetus to test the previous work and assess it value as a decision-making tool.


3.3       Pilot sites have been chosen to reflect the existing variety of management models specifically, Leases, Facility Management Agreements and Partner Agreements. The scope includes assets already managed within the community and new or vacant assets. The range of functionality includes community programming, sports development and youth and community support.   


            The Proposed Pilot sites


            Ulidia and Clarendon Playing Fields


3.4       Council is currently in receipt of requests for the transfer of the sites at Ulidia and  Clarendon Playing Fields, to long term management within the community. Facilities at these sites are used to deliver community development outcomes through and alongside sports outcomes. The requests from Rosario FC and Clarendon Development Agency respectively have been the subject of ongoing engagement between officers, elected members and the organisations for some time as the organisations already have a management agreement at the sites. In the case of Ulidia PF the current Partner Agreement is approaching its final year and at Clarendon PF the Facility Management Agreement is overholding on a month to month basis.


3.5       In both cases the applicants are proposing that their long-term management of the site would have greater community benefit than a reversion to council management at the termination point of the current legal agreement. They also propose opportunities for capital development at both sites using external investment but neither have the security of tenure required to be successful in a funding application. 


3.6       Officers are proposing the pilot deliver for each asset the following outputs, to inform decision making.


·        A community benefits realisation plan

·        A business case to demonstrate the organisations long term sustainability

·        Recommended mechanism for of the transfer of the asset to community management assessed against the draft framework.  


            Willowbank Park and Hammer 3G pitch.


3.7       The Willowbank site is managed under an FMA of 2008 by Willowbank Multi Sports Club (Ais Spoirt Bhruach na Saileoige), the Hammer site by Shankill United FC under a complex variety of agreements including a 10 year lease awarded in 2012 . The primary feature of each site is a pitch which the clubs manage and maintain on council’s behalf. The clubs are paid a fee for their operational management and retain income from the booking of the pitches.


3.8       Both sites have benefitted historically from improvements financed by external capital drawn down by the managing clubs and both sites have the potential for further enhancement but are not currently on the council’s capital programme. A project to upgrade the changing facilities at Willowbank has recently completed, jointly funded by council and DFC. The club is keen to see an increase in the size of the pitch at the site from the current three quarter size pitch to full size in order to drive income but has no immediate opportunity to draw funding from an external source for this as a moratorium on  future FMAs has made their tenure insecure. Capital opportunities at the Hammer site are limited similarly by the approaching lease termination date. 


3.9       The pilot presents the opportunity to evaluate what is being delivered from the sites under the current community management and quantify any benefit to the council and to the community. The pilot will use the draft framework to test options for the future vehicle by which these sites might be managed and to test the capacity of the current agreement holders to continue in a managing role under a new mechanism.   Any decision on the future management option will need to take account of the financial benefit the clubs currently derive from council and consider how any future agreement for their management of the site might be sustained.


3.10     Officers are proposing outputs of the pilot for these sites will be:


·        Evaluation of current community management arrangements and development of a community benefits realisation plan;

·        Review of community management options and a recommended mechanism for the future management of the sites

·        A business case exploring the financial sustainability of the current agreement holders against the proposed management model


            The Former Upper Ardoyne Youth Centre and TAGIT Boxing Club at Tullycarnet Park


3.11     The Council, as landowner, took possession of the former Upper Ardoyne Youth Centre in 2017 on the dissolution of the company which had built it. The building had been funded by Urban ll through the former North Belfast Partnership. It is located on the boundary of Ballysillan park. An expression of interest exercise for a tenant was unsuccessful and the building has been vacant for some time and the council recently carried out required work to the mechanical and electrical systems. A community organisation, Rcity, with a proven track record of delivering cross community outcomes in North Belfast has now expressed an interest in using the building as a hub from which to deliver youth and community programming. 


3.12     Ballysillan Park is the site of an Urban Villages funded environmental improvement project. UV are supportive of the installation of Rcity as anchor tenants at the facility and have awarded funding specific to the upgrade of the external spaces at the former youth centre as part of the overall project.


3.13     Tullycarnet Action Group Initiative Trust, (TAGIT) Boxing Club, were awarded BIF funding in 2018 for the construction of a new boxing club facility on an area of open land in Tullycarnet Park. The project aims to significantly increase the delivery of sport focused outcomes in the park and programme community activity from the building. The building has recently been completed and the club, under a condition of the funding agreement have been granted a Lease for the land.   


3.14     Including both these facilities in the pilot presents the opportunity to explore how the DTNI framework can be used to evaluate those proposals whereby a community group or third sector organisation intends using a council facility offering community focused programme development. Whilst the BIF funding and due diligence includes assessment of project outcomes against Belfast Agenda objectives and has therefore established a baseline for the TAGIT facility no similar process has been undergone by RCity.


            Officers are proposing outputs of the pilot for these sites will include:


·        A community benefit plan aligned to the core specialism of the organisation 

·        A benefits realisation and monitoring plan

·        Review of current community management arrangements and recommendations for the future management options. 


            Financial and Resource Implications


3.15     A budget for this work will come from existing resources within City & Neighbourhood Services and Physical Programmes.


            Equality or Good Relations Implications

            /Rural Needs Assessment


3.16     The final Community Asset Management policy will be screen in line with Council policy.”


            Following a query from a Member, the Director Neighbourhood Services advised that the Committee would be kept regularly updated and confirmed that the next steps would be subject to Committee approval.  


            The Committee adopted the recommendations.


Supporting documents: