lo c a l au t hori t y
building a team Director of The Sports Consultancy Chris Marriott analyses whether councils should separate the design and build bid from the operating contract, or take an all-in-one approach
he Sports Consultancy
together, with the operator leading a
undertook research last year
consortium to design, build, operate and
that found 65 per cent of
maintain the building, an option that can be referred to as a ‘DBOM’.
local authority leisure centres were over 25
So which one should councils go
years old and almost a
for? Of the 125 new leisure facilities
third were over 40 years old.
opening since 2012, DBOMs are in the
Leisure centres tend to be well
minority, with only seven delivered
past their prime by this stage in
this way. The rest were largely D&B.
life, becoming costly to maintain
However, DBOMs appear to be gaining
and inefficient to operate. They’re
popularity, with several in the pipeline.
considerably less attractive than
For a council, the main benefit
their younger, newer competition
of the DBOM option lies in the ‘one
and therefore struggle to draw in the
stop shop’ nature of the solution: the
necessary number of paying visitors to
operator gets involved in the design from
really make them financially sustainable.
the outset, meaning they can directly
At a certain point, a decision needs to
Chris Marriott is director of
influence their appointed architect to
be made to take the plunge, knock it
The Sports Consultancy
ensure the proposed design is efficient
down and start over, and plenty of local authorities have been doing just that. According to Active Places data, 125 new public leisure facilities have either
from an operational perspective and is This represents quite an active market,
as commercial as it can be, within the
and it looks set to continue.
constraints of the council’s specifications.
The root of much debate across the
Operator control over both the
been built or significantly refurbished in
market at the moment is: how does a local
designers and the builders means they
the past five years, all procured – in one
authority best secure a team to design,
are both more likely to be kept in check,
way or another – by local authorities.
build and operate a leisure centre?
reducing the risk of getting a leisure
© shut terstock/3Dalia
centre that’s too big and too expensive.
To DBOM or not to DBOM?
Also, the council is able to transfer more
There are really only two viable options, both
risk to the operator’s consortium, enjoying
of which involve the council funding the project, since they can borrow at a much lower rate than the operator. The first option is that
Issue 2 2018
cost certainty, not only throughout the build but also throughout the typical 20-year contract term. This compares to the option of
a council secures its architect
separately procuring the D&B and
and builder team separate to
operator contracts. While procuring these
its operator. This is known
in tandem does allow opportunities for
as a separate design and
the bidding operator to comment on and
build, or ‘D&B’. Alternatively, a
influence the proposed design solution, it
council can secure everything
is nevertheless more limited.