The masterplan below shows each of the elements of SportsHub MK as currently proposed.
At SportsHub MK we are looking to create a golf facility to meet the needs of every type of golfer.
When we first presented to the local parish and residents, one of the comments raised was around the loss of 18 holes of golf in this area and that a 9 hole Par 3 course would not be a challenge to any regular golfer.
The SportsHub objective in respect of golf provision is to respond to the changing trend away from 18 hole golf by providing quicker, easier and more accessible golf to a broader range of people. This will help halt the decline by introducing new generations to the sport, and also ensure golf facilities can be run successfully over the long term.
However, we understand that for some people playing 18 hole golf – with the associated challenging holes and bigger shot lengths - remains attractive. Therefore, with the help of professional golf course designers Ridgway Golf Design, we have redesigned the golf course element of SportsHub MK to introduce a second 9 hole course as well as the Par 3 course to accommodate longer hitters wanting more challenging shots. This second 9-hole course consists of three par 3s, 4 par 4s and 2 par 5 holes.
Adjacent to the course is the golf centre, comprising a 60 bay state of the art driving range, with 30 bays dedicated to the latest ball tracer technology and 30 additional bays for beginners’, intermediate and professional lessons, together with a short game practice area and putting green.
We intend that SportsHub MK will become a National Centre for golf excellence with the finest instructors enhancing the reputation of a fully inclusive learning facility. The golf facility will be available to use for anyone, with memberships available along with pay and play options for both golf courses and driving range.
In drawing up the golf provision at the SportsHub we also enlisted the views of Gareth Harding, a PGA Qualified Professional with many years’ experience in teaching golf including his role as a senior teaching professional at Woburn Golf Club. Gareth has been a managing director of two golf courses and recognises the need for golf to attract a much more diverse demographic to bring more people into golf, including men, ladies, seniors, groups of friends, and importantly juniors - our next generation of golfers.
Having been involved in golf at all levels from local municipal courses to premiere courses like Woburn, Gareth’s advice was that in order to reverse the trend and attract this broader demographic, the SportsHub model must create a golf facility which is fun, affordable and not too time-consuming; and that in a busy and growing town such as Milton Keynes, shorter courses and driving ranges with the latest technology built in will be the best way to secure this.
Gareth has endorsed our latest golf course design as an innovative way in which to meet both existing and new golfing demands.
As part of the early planning for the SportsHub, Evolve have researched the availability and accessibility of different sports across Milton Keynes.
This ensures that the facilities to be provided meet current needs but will also meet identified sporting demands to serve a growing population in the MK area and reflects the priority to be given to innovative ways of increasing sports participation as part of MK’s status as a European City of Sport for 2020.
Each of the sports uses included in SportsHub MK has been identified in consultation with key stakeholders, both at a National and local level, as well as MK Council Leisure Services. To date, organisations involved with SportsHub MK include the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), Stevenage Leisure Limited (SLL), Northampton Steelbacks and MK Springers Gymnastic Club.
RACQUET CENTRE AND OUTDOOR TENNIS COURTS
The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), the national governing body of tennis in Great Britain, and Bucks Tennis, the county association, as key supporters of MK’s European City of Sport 2020 status, are looking to create a regional tennis hub in Milton Keynes, and have specifically offered their support to SportsHub MK, including helping to fund the Racquet Centre, the first of its kind in this region.
The racquet centre will include six indoor tennis courts as well as facilities for badminton, squash, and padel tennis, a fitness suite and food and beverage amenities, plus six floodlit outdoor tennis courts and additional mini tennis courts. Facilities and coaching within the racquet centre will meet the needs of play at every level of ability. Milton Keynes is especially attractive to the LTA and Bucks Tennis because of the shortage of open access community racquet facilities and MK’s ambitious plans to become an international sporting city.
STEELBACKS CRICKET CENTRE
A local and regional need has been identified for a high-performance capable facility for grassroots and elite cricket development. The cricket centre comprises of indoor and outdoor facilities including four hybrid nets, four indoor lanes, a gym, treatment rooms, male and female changing facilities and a shop. The centre will become a cricket base; offering training benefits for officials, coaches and players with the potential for video analysis and scenario simulation using virtual reality technology.
Interest in operating this facility has been expressed by the Northamptonshire County Cricket Club.
MK has a number of gymnastics facilities, with the main centres in Kingston, Bletchley and Kiln Farm. MK Springers, a local charity and highly successful gymnastics club, is currently based at Kiln Farm but is in need of a new home in the very near future. Providing a new gymnastics centre in the western part of Milton Keynes for MK Springers would help maximise the catchment population for each of these centres.
SWIM SCHOOL CENTRE
Evolve’s early research identified the need for a new swim school pool in this part of Milton Keynes. Demand is very high for this sort of teaching facility and swimming lessons in public pools are often oversubscribed. Having a teaching pool to serve the south west Milton Keynes catchment population will help to ensure as many people as possible can access a pool locally. SLL, a local charity who run a number of swimming pools in the region, have expressed interest in operating the swim school facility here.
SOFT PLAY CENTRE
A soft play centre is also proposed to complement the formal sports facilities within SportsHub MK. Getting children active from an early age is important for their development, and providing facilities for those with young families as part of the SportsHub will encourage ‘linked trips’, perhaps dropping older children at their sports club whilst their parents and younger siblings use the soft play facilities, for example.
TRIM TRAIL, EXERCISE STATIONS AND PICNIC AREA
There will also be better facilities for those wanting to use local open spaces for informal recreation. At present, there are three separate sections of public rights of way within and around the site. As part of the SportsHub, a more extensive and better connected network of footpaths will be created incorporating a ‘trim trail’ and ‘exercise stations’ within the site so that people can exercise as part of their running or walking routes.
There is also the potential, subject to consultation with other stakeholders, to create a 5km signposted running route through the site and surrounding area, starting and finishing at the SportsHub square. There are also opportunities to improve signage and wayfinding to improve connectivity with the wider Redway and leisure routes in the surrounding area so that people can get to and use the SportsHub facilities on foot or bike from the surrounding areas.
If the SportsHub is approved, it will formally host eight sports, including tennis, badminton, squash, cricket, swimming, gymnastics, golf, and running, all in one location. There would also be opportunities for other local clubs to hire space for other sports and fitness activities, such as Zumba or yoga for example.
LOCAL SQUARE AND COFFEE OUTLET
Within the core of the SportsHub area, the range of buildings which accommodate each sports use are positioned around a local square with a coffee outlet at its centre, which will provide somewhere for people to go before or after using the sports facilities, or to meet at the start or end of a walk, run or bike ride.
The current wellness centre at Windmill Hill (a health and fitness studio) will be relocated within the golf centre. Designed to encourage people back into sport – particularly those who are new to fitness or recovering from an illness or injury – this will allow people to maintain their fitness levels within a wider sports and leisure environment, encouraging them to see and try other sports.
PLANNED NEW HOMES
The sporting and leisure facilities planned as part of the SportsHub would not be deliverable without the proposed housing. The money raised from the sale of the housing will repay the investment made by Evolve in the construction of the sports facilities and the necessary infrastructure (roads, drainage etc) to serve the SportsHub.
At our public exhibition in July 2019, most who commented said that they would be more supportive of residential development if the mix and types of homes met the needs of the local community and would enable more local people to afford homes close to their existing community.
We have revised the mix of housing proposed to reduce the number of residential units from the approx. 154 apartments previously proposed to approx. 125 new homes, with a mix of houses and flats and a range of house sizes more representative of the local housing need.
In line with the Council’s planning requirements, affordable housing will be provided as part of the residential element of the SportsHub proposal, split between affordable rent and low cost shared ownership. This will widen the opportunities for home ownership and support those households who wish to move out of affordable rent into home ownership.
We are still early on in the formal planning process, and the detailed layout and design for the housing has not yet been fixed. The precise number of overall homes and the tenure mix for the affordable homes will be confirmed as part of pre-application planning discussions.
A new hotel is proposed to the south of the core SportsHub buildings. Planned to provide a mix of 3* and 4* accommodation as well as hotel facilities (restaurant, meeting/conference rooms etc), the orientation of the hotel buildings and gardens will offer unrivalled views out over the lakes and golf course. The hotel can provide accommodation for participants and spectators coming to any sporting events at the SportsHub, but its facilities can also be hired and used by local people (for weddings, business meetings and the like).