Home » Facilities » Planning facilities

Planning facilities

Planning Facilities

Related topics: , ,

There are a range of publications to help you to plan sport and recreation facilities in Western Australia.

The guidelines mean analysis and reporting can be standardised to ensure a timely and accurate technical review of your facility or project.
A needs assessment is the vital first step in the planning process for a facility. This guide will assist facility planners in determining whether a proposed facility is needed by the community.
This guide provides practical assistance in undertaking a feasibility study for a proposed sport and recreation facility.
This guide provides an overview of the facility planning process for a specific sport or recreation facility.
This guide will assist facility planners in determining the need for, and feasibility of community sport and recreation services. The model in this guide can also be structured to apply to program based solutions.
This guide contains a series of practical tools to assist with the development of an Asset Management Plan for a facility.


When considering the design of a sport or recreation facility your two priorities are functionality and aesthetics.

Both are important elements of design and they affect the success of the facility.

Pre-planning: the facility planning process

Before attempting to work up a design for your facility, it is important that you have completed the Strategic Planning and Feasibility Study phases of the facility planning process as outlined below.

Key design principles

To ensure a successful outcome, there are a number of principles that should be considered when designing a sport or recreation facility:

Each community is unique in its size, location, climate, and cultural and economic influences. So sport or recreation facilities must meet community and user-group needs. It is in the design of the facility that this uniqueness should be evident.

The facility should be designed to accommodate its potential uses. First and foremost, it should cater for the functional and 'people requirements' that were identified in the feasibility study and make good use of space.

Flexible spaces
Where appropriate, the design should be flexible to accommodate a range of compatible activities so that it can adapt to changing community needs.

Effective and cost efficient management
The design should accommodate the needs of the proposed management structure. Where appropriate, it should minimise staffing levels through promoting opportunities for multi-skilling.

Energy efficiency
Energy efficient products and design elements will reduce energy consumption. An independent energy audit should be undertaken as part of the design development.

Practical and affordable maintenance
The design should minimise maintenance through the use of low maintenance products and finishes. Where possible, locally available fittings should be used.

Integration with the surrounding community
The design should complement and blend with the surrounding environment to promote social interaction, maximise economic opportunities and foster a "sense of place". Where appropriate, it should be part of a community "hub" or focal point for community activity.

Future modification and extension
The design should allow for future modifications, extensions and additions by including surplus, well located land within, or next to, the site boundaries.

The design and construction process

1. Develop a management plan and design brief

The facility should primarily be designed to meet the functional requirements of the community and user groups. So, the first task in the design phase is the development of a management plan to show how the facility will be used.

The management plan is then used to develop a design brief. The functional requirements of staff, potential user groups and activities are translated into a set of design specifications.

A comprehensive design brief is crucial if the expectations of the client and community are to be realised.

When preparing your design brief, you should consider the above design principles and where appropriate, require your design consultant to accommodate them.

The key elements of a project design brief for a sport or recreation facility are:

  • a description of the project, the project history and the client agency;
  • the purpose and nature of the facility;
  • general design characteristics;
  • a management plan;
  • a schedule of the required facility components and, where possible, a concept diagram;
  • specific requirements in relation to utilities, services and external works;
  • details of any environmental issues which need to be addressed;
  • the standards of quality and finishes required;
  • site details;
  • key dates for the commencement and conclusion of the project;
  • a revised project budget including, where stipulated, the cost limit of the project.

2. Appoint the professional design team

Where the technical skills and expertise required to design the facility are not available in-house, you will need to appoint design consultants from outside your organisation. Small projects may not need a design consultant, but you will certainly need the following professionals on your design team for medium and large-scale projects:

  • architect;
  • structural engineer;
  • mechanical and electrical engineer;
  • cost planner / quantity surveyor;
  • landscape architect (if appropriate);
  • acoustics consultant (if appropriate).

For larger and more complex projects, you should consider appointing a professional project manager, who would be responsible for managing the activities of the professional design team, and ultimately for the construction of the project.

If a project manager is not appointed, generally the architect would assume the role of co-ordinating the other design professionals.

Once you have determined what external skills are needed, a consultant's brief should be compiled for each design consultant. Submissions are then invited, evaluated and the appointments are made.

  1. Schematic Design: The requirements of the project design brief are translated into a preliminary design format and a more detailed cost analysis is undertaken. It is at this point that any technical issues are resolved.
  2. Design Development:All design drawings are prepared and statutory approvals obtained. This is when an independent energy audit should be undertaken.
  3. Contract Documentation: All contract documentation is prepared including final plans and specifications, a bill of quantities and tender documents
  4. Tenders: The tender process and selection criteria are confirmed, tenders are invited and a builder is appointed.
  5. Construction.
  6. Handover and Evaluation.

Further information

Community Recreation Centres: A Planning and Design Manual. (1988) Department of Sport and Recreation. (Victoria).

Establishing and Managing Sport and Recreation Facilities. (1995) Department of Tourism, Sport and Racing. (Queensland).

Getting it Right - A Guide to Planning and Developing Sport and Recreation Facilities (1994) Department of Tourism, Sport and Racing (Queensland) and Hillary Commission for Sport, Fitness and Leisure (New Zealand).

Key Issues in the Planning and Design of Major Indoor Leisure Facilities (1995) Marriott, K.; Lacey, P; Leisure Industry Information Bulletins 2.1. Sport and Recreation (Victoria).

Recreation and Sport Planning and Design: A Guidelines Manual (1995). Daly, J. Office of Recreation and Sport (South Australia).

Other related pages Where would you like to go next?