Decision details

Parks Tennis Procurement

Decision Maker: Co-operative Executive

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes


The current approach to managing Tennis Courts in Parks across Sheffield is financially challenging.


We are seeking approval to go out to tender for a parks tennis provider to;

-       develop and manage a new Activity Hub at Hillsborough Park

-       manage the existing 6 Parks Tennis sites

-       manage 2 new Parks Tennis court sites when these are developed


The introduction of an Activity Hub at Hillsborough Park would provide a financially sustainable solution to the city-wide parks tennis programme.


The enhancement of the existing parks tennis programme would lead to greater health outcomes for a wider audience.





The Parks and Countryside Service sought approval to progress with a procurement strategy to appoint a Partner to manage Sheffield’s parks tennis programme. In addition to the existing tennis court management, the proposal was to add an Activity Hub to the model, to provide additional financial security to the city-wide programme.


The aim was to further develop the tennis court programme across the city with two new park sites and develop the Activity Hub at Hillsborough Park in partnership with the Lawn Tennis Association.


Sheffield’s park tennis programme, which was procured in 2017 had developed significantly since its inception with considerable improvements to the quality of tennis court provision across the city, as well as a significant increase in the numbers of people accessing tennis in the city.


Coming out of the pandemic the Council was looking at ways to sustain services across the Leisure portfolio and one of those aspects was tennis and multi-activity provision.

The intention was that the opportunity would be advertised, subject to open competition, and (subject to the final procurement strategy) that the partner selected would be granted a lease to operate the welfare/catering facilities and a concession for the parks tennis programme and multi-use games area elements of the site at Hillsborough and a concession arrangement for the other parks tennis courts.


A solution was needed to sustain tennis provision into the future and together with the Lawn Tennis Association and Courtside CIC (the current Parks tennis programme Partner), the Council had undertaken significant due diligence and business planning to find a sustainable and quality solution for outdoor tennis provision.




RESOLVED: That Co-operative Executive:-



1.    Note the report, including the contribution of the Lawn Tennis Association;


2.    Approve the proposed commissioning of a partner to further develop, manage and sustain the parks tennis programme Hub and Spoke Model, as outlined in the report;


3.    Delegate authority to the Director of Culture and Environment, in consultation with the Director of Legal and Governance and the Director of Finance and Commercial Services, to approve the procurement strategy;


4.    Require the Director of Culture and Environment to undertake the procurement, and to report back, at the conclusion of the procurement, with recommendations on:

a.    the award of the contract; and

b.    any associated disposal of land which may be necessary, and any consents or approvals required; and


5.    Approve:

a.    the proposed City Council funding contribution of up to £180,000 (of prudential borrowing) towards the development of the Activity Hub at Hillsborough Park; and

b.    the allocation of Section 106 funds of up to £183,000 for the development of the facilities at Hillsborough Park, as described in the report.




Reasons for Decision




As highlighted the report, Hillsborough Park had been identified as the location for the Activity Hub for a multitude of reasons. Continued management of Sheffield’s parks tennis programme, alongside a sustainable business model, providing appropriate opportunities to generate income, provides financial security to parks tennis programme into the future. Without this, the programme would face a financially challenging future.




Hillsborough Park was a site which lay within an area identified as within the top 30% IMD, and therefore the provision of quality sport and recreational facilities would have a real benefit to communities with identified health inequalities. It was designated as a ‘City Park’ which reflected the fact that residents travel to the park from across the city and further afield; and hence the benefits would also have city wide reach.




The deteriorating conditions of the existing tennis and multi-use games area provision were not ‘city’ standard. Improvements to these recreational facilities would support the parks Green Flag aspirations. The provision of an exciting and high-quality facility of this nature will raise the standard of the park, increase its attractiveness as a destination site and encourage and attract users of all ages and abilities from various communities to engage in sport and physical activities.  Data and evaluation will form an important component of this project to capture benefits, outputs and outcomes particularly focused around a reduction in health inequalities.




The social return on investment of the current parks tennis programme was recently valued by Sheffield Hallam University at over £191,000, this included;


  • £51,000 Health Outcomes
  • £95,000 personal wellbeing
  • £45,000 community development


The Council would expect this value and therefore benefits gained, to increase considerably with the introduction of the Activity Hub at Hillsborough Park and additional courts at Hollinsend and Ecclesfield Parks.




The Council recognised that leisure provision both indoors and outdoors would be critical post COVID-19, with many people requiring rehabilitation after suffering long-COVID, or diminished mental health caused by lockdown.   The health and wellbeing of residents was a priority, and it was clear the services delivered by facilities such as this would play a vital role both now and in the future.  It was therefore critical that long term sustainable plans were put in place to maintain and grow these facilities.




Alternatives Considered and Rejected




Do nothing


Parks and Countryside’s had reviewed the option of continuing as is, with the existing parks tennis programme model exclusive of an Activity Hub. It had been concluded that continuing in this way, now with the added pressures that the Council was facing as a result of the pandemic, would make the model financially challenging for the future.




Develop a partial model


Parks and Countryside’s had considered developing only the tennis and multi-use games area facilities, without the introduction of the Activity Hub, however together with the Lawn Tennis Association and the current partner Courtside CIC, recognised that this alone, would not bring in the investment needed to provide a sustainable parks tennis programme model for the future.




Consider an in-house delivery model


The current approach with a third-party provider was working sufficiently, although could be strengthened. The financial and operational risks were reduced to Sheffield City Council with this approach. Several years ago, the Councils ‘in house’ activity delivery services ‘Activity Sheffield’ was cut, therefore at this point, exploring an in-house delivery option had not been considered. However, in exploring the market potential, this would allow us to assess whether there was a more feasible method of delivery, so this could be explored at a later date.




Procure the Hub and Spoke model


Parks and Countryside’s and the Lawn Tennis Association believe that to future-proof the parks tennis programme and broaden the reach and impact from a health inequalities perspective, procuring an Activity Hub alongside the existing parks tennis courts programme, was the most viable and sustainable option.




Any Interest Declared or Dispensation Granted








Reason for Exemption if Public/Press Excluded During Consideration








Respective Director Responsible for Implementation




Executive Director, Operational Services




Relevant Scrutiny and Policy Development Committee If Decision Called In




Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee


Report author: Lisa Firth

Publication date: 22/04/2022

Date of decision: 20/04/2022

Decided at meeting: 20/04/2022 - Co-operative Executive

Effective from: 29/04/2022

Accompanying Documents: