£10 million awarded to help schools open their sports facilities

Sport England are investing £10.1 million of government money to help more schools open their facilities to the public once the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is over.

The funding, which has been provided by the Department for Education, is in addition to the £1.5m awarded as part of the School Sport and Activity Action Plan announced in July 2019 and will help schools deliver extra-curricular activities and open their facilities outside of the school day during evenings, weekends and school holidays.

The approach to providing the ideal sustainable sports training structure is based on a number of indicative designs that are: efficiently planned, functionally efficient, meeting sporting requirements, contained within an economical building structure, provided with an efficient and cost effective internal environmental controlled system, capable of being quickly constructed and easily operated.

Planning & Concept

When designing a sports facility concept, you firstly need to make sure that the facility meets local needs and will be sustainable in the long-term through clear, logical business and operational planning. To help arrive at the right sports hall provision, Sport England and the national governing bodies of sport (NGBs), have developed a specific eight step path to guide you to RIBA Stage 0 – Strategic Definition which can be found on their website.

The next RIBA stage, Stage 1 would be developing the project objectives, including quality objectives and project outcomes, sustainability aspirations, project budget, other parameters or constraints and develop the initial project brief. This would then lead into undertaking feasibility studies and a review of site information.

Rubb Buildings Ltd has worked alongside many architects, contractors and end users from RIBA Stage 3 to Stage 6 to design, manufacture and construct a number of sports facilities that have been supported by Sport England’s vision. An example would be the new international level sports structure for the University of York, measuring 40m wide x 55m long, which includes a central, premier standard, multi-sports court for recreational and performance level basketball, netball, badminton, futsal and volleyball.


When applying for funding grants between £500,000 and £2,000,000, applicants will need to demonstrate how the grant will help deliver key local outcomes and objectives stated in RIBA Stage 1. Building the right facilities in the right places makes taking part in sport and physical activity a realistic option for many more people and leads to a better experience for those who are already engaged. The Strategic Facilities Fund will direct capital investment into a number of key local area projects that are identified through a strategic vision, with the impact on local outcomes and KPI’s clearly identified. This is measured against the following key performance indicators: an increase in the percentage of the local population taking part in sport and physical activity at least twice a month and a decrease in the percentage of local people physically inactive.


A sustainable sports structure can be achieved in two different sizes, 4 court and 5 court configurations, with three different design criterias: sports hall, sports hall including changing rooms and sports hall including changing rooms and health and fitness areas. All of which, Rubb have provided across the UK for schools and local communities.

Examples include:

University of York

Ipswich Academy

St Mary’s C.E

A cost-effective approach is to explore modular designed sport structures which are quick to construct and are adaptable. Rubb Buildings Ltd has more than 40 years’ experience designing, manufacturing and constructing these types of high-quality facilities. These alternative structures are proven to lower project costs and construction times.

Rubb sport structures are designed to British Standards or Euro Codes with regards to wind speeds and snow loadings. Like a traditional bricks and mortar building, Rubb structures are designed to accommodate the full weight of snow acting on the roof. As they are designed to meet these codes, Rubb sports facilities are a direct and comparable alternative to a traditional sport halls.

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The steel framework of the building is hot dip galvanized, post production, to eliminate any chance of corrosion. Galvanizing is the process of metallurgically bonding a tough coating of zinc into the steel surface. Microscopic analysis shows that there is no demarcation line between the steel and zinc, but a gradual transition through a series of zinc-iron alloys. The protective coating is fused into the metal and therefore will give much better protection than other coatings, such as paint. Rubb provides a 25-year manufacturer’s warranty on all steelwork, but the galvanizing method will help the structure last in excess of 40 years, in the harshest of environments.

The fabric that is used to cover Rubb sports facilities is a tough PVC impregnated polyester fabric. Translucency of the roof and thermal advantages are key when using PVC fabric. High translucency and a pure white colour improves visible light and appearance, for comfort and safety, also reduces energy costs and increases sustainability. The material is tested with respect to tensile strength, elongation, tearing strength, bursting strength, coating adhesion and resistance to flexing, according to BS 3424. The fabric is flame retardant and self-extinguishing to BS 5438 Test 2B to improve fire safety. Lightweight fabric has a manufacturer’s warranty of 10 years, but Rubb structures have been in use around the world and have proven to last more than 40 years with the original PVC sheets.

Other wall and roof cladding options are available, including Rubb Thermohall, an insulated PVC fabric cladding technology. Thermohall cladding is a composite structure consisting of a durable PVC layer and non-combustible glass wool high density insulation core inside an air-tight pocket and a self-cleaning PVC inner layer. The insulated panel system provides a full vapour seal which reduces infiltration losses, minimises thermal bridging, reducing condensation on framing members and improving insulation efficiency. This comes in a number of thickness options, Rubb would recommend 150mm Thermohall for a sports facility, which provides a U-value of 0.25 W/m2K, meeting British Building Standards.  This insulated fabric was used and tested on Ipswich Academy with main contractor Balfour Beatty, who ran an air permeability test resulting in a 1% score.

Acoustic testing was also conducted independently for the sports facility using Thermohall cladding, resulting in sound insulation performance of the entire, as-built structure as level differences D2m,nT,w in the region of 41-44dB.  The measured levels would indicate that the construction type is suitable for moderately noisy (i.e. urban) environments. The integration of sound absorption into the roof and the upper sections of the side walls of the sports hall helps to achieve the required internal acoustic conditions in an economic manner.