Agenda item


            The Committee considered the undernoted report:


“1.0     Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1            To provide Members with an update on development of a Belfast City Council Sports Development and Physical Activity Strategy (The Strategy).


            To provide a revised timeline for development and completion of the Strategy.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


·        Note progress to date and to agree to the new proposed timetable for the development of the Strategy.


3.0       Main report


            Key Issues


3.1       It was agreed by the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee at its meeting on 5th January 2018 that a Belfast City Council Sports Development Strategy and associated work plan would be developed. This Strategy was to provide a framework for future decision making.  At that time the committee agreed this would, among other things, steer future decisions on directly supporting National Governing Bodies of Sport to deliver programmes in Belfast which enhance sporting opportunities for Belfast’s sporting organisations and individuals.


3.2       People and Communities Committee of 5th June 2018 agreed a proposed Terms of Reference and proposed timeline. Since that date the Departmental Change Programme has prompted consideration of wider opportunities to clarify and align the links between sports development and Council’s strategic funding and programming decisions in the areas of asset development, health improvement and community development.


3.3       At the People and Communities meeting of 10 November 2020, it was further agreed that the Terms of Reference be extended to include the following:


-       In line with the Belfast Agenda the outcomes are extended to 2035

-       Physical activity programming is considered as part of the pathway into organised sport

-       Considered and aligned with our Leisure Transformation Programme.

-       Identification of alternative sources of financing/partner opportunities.

-       Facility/asset utilisation and management is maximised through collaborative partnership approaches

-       Facility/asset planning and development is considered taking account of local, citywide and regional need.

-       Sport’s contribution to improvement of whole health is considered in the context of partnership working through the work of the Belfast Community Planning Partnership and associated Boards – particularly the Living Here Board

-       Sport’s contribution to community development is considered in the context of City & Neighbourhood’s Departmental approach to area working and neighbourhood regeneration

-       The strategy ‘working title’ to be ‘Belfast Physical Activity and Sports Development Strategy’


3.4       The aim of the Strategy is to review Council’s current physical activity and sports development systems and operations, and subsequently develop a Strategy that identifies, nurtures and develops opportunities for improving health through participation in physical activity and sport.


3.5       The purpose of the development of the strategy is to provide a clear statement of the Council’s Physical Activity and Sports Development aims, objectives and priorities for the future. It will demonstrate how Council plans to enable and deliver a range of physical activity and sports development activities to specific groups, to meet the overall objectives outlined in the Belfast Agenda.


3.6       The Strategy will have two primary themes plus two associated themes and will support two existing themes.





Sport Development

Primary 1

Traditional SD continuum

Sustainability and support exit strategy

Priority sports?

Programme support grant funding

Athlete support grant funding

Support programme delivery (Capacity development). 

Physical Activity

Primary 2

Health related activity promotion

Community programme support (non-financial)

Community programme grant funding

Coach/leader provision

PARS including HealthWise, Cardiac, Cancer, etc.

Pathways to citywide programmes, clubs and NGBs.

Sustainability and support exit strategy

Linking to broader utilisation (pathways) to maximise the impact of existing leisure centre and community centre programmes

Facility/Asset Planning

Associated 1

Mapping existing facility provision

Future sports facility development planning

Footprint and facility mix

Location and community coverage

Citywide analysis to avoid duplication (Area Planning)

Demand analysis, business case and sustainability

Ownership and management

Cross agency collaboration

Facility/Asset Access and Utilisation

Associated 2








Cross agency collaboration

Programming priorities and booking systems

BCC/GLL facility programming allocations and funding

Community asset transfers and associated possibilities

Citywide analysis to avoid duplication (Area Planning)

Facilities Management Agreements

Partner Agreements and other contracts which are in existence and which could be implemented to support the direction of the strategy eg. leases

Health Promotion

(Supported existing theme rather than included in strategic document)

Physical activity promotions

Obesity and nutritional health

Alcohol and substance abuse interventions

PHA and BHDU programme support

Mental health intervention support

Sustainability and support exit strategy

Access to expert advisory group support

Community Engagement  and Neighbourhood Development

(Supported existing theme rather than included in strategic document)

Developing capacity

Developing local ownership and autonomy

Sport and physical activity programme support

Theme/pathway alignment

Programme grant funding

Capital grant funding

Citywide programme and capital development analysis to avoid duplication

Sustainability and support exit strategies


3.7       As part of the process, it is anticipated that a mapping exercise will be carried out across the Council area.  This exercise will be identifying current provision, instances of duplication and opportunities for partnership investment and partnership delivery in physical activity and sport.


3.8       Due to Covid the development of this strategy was delayed.   However, in July 2022, following a quotation exercise, Strategic Leisure Limited was appointed to support council in the production of the Strategy.


3.9       Since the appointment of Strategic Leisure Council officers have been working directly with them providing relevant background and stakeholder mapping. On the 27 September 2022 a delivery board meeting was held followed by a series of meetings involving a range of specialist Council Officers, key delivery partners and stakeholders.


            Proposed Draft Timeline Subject to committee’s approval


3.10     While ambitious, officers are working to the following timeline for presentation of the draft strategy to committee.  Consultation will be a key element of the development of the Strategy including consultation and engagement with elected members.


Background review of documentation policies and strategies

September 2022 - (Completed)

Establish Board and structures for developing strategy

September 2022 - October 2022

Initial face to face consultation with key stakeholders and schools

September 2022 - October 2022

Review and Mapping

September 2022 - October 2022

Focus groups established and face to face meetings to take place

October 2022 - December 2022

Wider public consultation to take place online using ‘Your Say Belfast’

October 2022 - December 2022

Analysis of key issues identified with a focus on internal consultation and external feedback

November 2022 - December 2022

Draft Strategy produced and presented to elected members

December 2022 - January 2023

Review of draft strategy with focus groups and through both internal and external consultation

January 2023 - March 2023

Final Document to be completed and presented to elected members

April 2023 - May 2023

Strategy Launch

June 2023


            Financial Implications


3.11     Cost associated with the development of the new strategy and engagement of external partners will be met within existing departmental resources. Members are advised that no capital finance is in place to support the sports development strategy at this stage. This will need to be considered as the strategy is developed and related needs become clearer.


            Equality or Good Relations Implications/Rural Needs Assessment


3.12     The draft strategy will be equality screened in line with the Council’s agreed process.”


            At the request of a Member, the Director of Neighbourhood Services undertook to ensure that the final strategy was inclusive to both disabled and older people.


            The Committee noted the progress and agreed to the new proposed timetable for the development of the Strategy.


Supporting documents: