PlayZones are safe, inclusive and accessible outdoor facilities that bring communities together through recreational forms of football and a range of other sports.
Welcome to the Football Foundation’s exciting new capital investment programme. Using investment from the Premier League, The FA and the Government through Sport England, the PlayZone Programme aims to engage with local communities across the country to create outstanding sports and activity spaces and tackle inequalities in participation.
This is a targeted programme, so if you’re reading this, you’re probably eligible for funding. Read on to find out everything you need to know about the PlayZone programme.
About the Programme
What is the PlayZone Programme?
The PlayZone Programme is our exciting new investment programme aimed at tackling inequalities in physical activity and access to facilities by funding community-led spaces.
We aim to focus investment and resource into communities with the greatest need. This will deliver new or refurbished outdoor mini pitches designed for football and other sports and activities that will allow our priority groups to be more active.
Who are the priority groups?
There are four main groups facing the greatest inequalities. We want you to prioritise engaging with these groups within your place to provide opportunity and access to safe, inclusive and welcoming facilities.
Why is community engagement important?
Community Engagement is at the heart of this programme. Facilities will be designed in partnership with local communities to ensure that the final design and surface works for football and other sports and activities identified for that area. Activation and management of the space is as important as the facility itself. PlayZones will be available for community use day and night, all year round.
How many PlayZones will we deliver?
We aim to deliver 330 PlayZones by 2025 by investing in priority communities with the greatest need, phased in over the next 3 years.
The programme is portfolio based, so we’re looking for multiple sites within each application. We’re open to the number of individual sites within your portfolio and encourage you to be ambitious and maximise this investment opportunity.
Who can apply for PlayZone funding?
We want to support and invest in the communities across England who will benefit the most from PlayZones. To achieve this, we are taking a targeted approach to our programme roll out.
We want stakeholders in your area to come together as a consortium to identify priority groups and places where these facilities would have the greatest impact. Your consortium can then submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) providing details of your readiness to deliver.
Upfront project management and community engagement grant funding is available to help progress your application.
What insight drives the programme?
At the Football Foundation, we've learned that the most successful community sport and physical spaces are designed and delivered in partnership with local people. Communities are more likely to take part in activities and use facilities if they’ve been included in their planning and development. Engagement is key to a successful PlayZone application.
Insight shows us that recreational formats of football and other sports are popular with our priority groups and provide great opportunities to become more active.
Our research shows that:
- Priority groups want safe and welcoming spaces
- Activation plans and booking facilities are essential
- Well-lit sites with natural surveillance are more likely to be used
Please click the button below to read the insight that has helped to inform our approach.
Applying for Funding
Your application should be delivered and will be measured against two key outcomes:
Create a consortium to get started on your application
We’re strongly encouraging the consortia approach with local stakeholders to develop a portfolio of sites in your local authority area. Your application will be developed and submitted as a consortium, with one organisation taking the role of Lead Organisation.
We want a broad range of partners to come together to work in collaboration and lead a single application for their area. This should be made up of local stakeholders or networks reflecting your local community. These include such organisations as Local Authorities, County FAs, Active Partnerships, Professional Club Community Organisations, local community sport organisations, charities, VCSE partners and private enterprises. Key land-owning organisations should also be represented on the consortium.
Use the button below to read our guidance on forming a consortium for your area.
Four stage process
To develop your application, you’ll need to follow our four-stage project development process:
1) Expression of Interest (EOI)
2) Narrow the focus
3) Community engagement and site identification
4) Full application
Our team will be on hand to support you through this. Don’t forget that you can apply for some upfront funding to help with your capacity for Project Management and Community Engagement.
Click below for further information on the application development process and timeline.
The cost of each facility depends on various factors including specification and site conditions. We estimate a newbuild facility will cost around £150k, with lower costs for refurbishing existing spaces.
The programme requires partnership funding. We understand this can be a challenge, so we’re looking for a minimum contribution of 25% of the total capital cost across the portfolio of facilities. This means that available funding in one place (e.g. Section 106) can support delivery of PlayZones in areas that need funding.
Other key criteria
Appropriate ownership of the land or facility is a requirement for our funding. Applicants must own the space or facility through a freehold or have a leasehold in place for a minimum period of 10 years. The programme accepts different land ownership arrangements across the portfolio, so this shouldn’t be a barrier to identifying the right sites with the community.
You must secure planning permission where required. We will support this, along with site feasibility and design through our framework of technical consultants.
Activation and business plan
Activation will be key for some priority groups. You’ll need to work with various partners to activate the spaces with the different sports and activities evidenced by your community engagement. There must be opportunities to book the spaces at a cost and time that works for priority groups. All of this will need to be reflected in your site activation plan. The use of programme-wide solutions to support booking and access is being explored.
This programme is taking a flexible approach to the need for sinking funds, assessed on the needs of the site operator and the PlayZones surface type. The spaces require basic maintenance, and your ongoing running costs must be considered as part of your site business plan.