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New indoor facility takes sport at St Neot’s to the next level

A new sports hub is making a massive difference to the pupils of a school in Hampshire, making a diverse range of sports accessible all year round and also extending use of the facility to the local community. 

St Neot’s Preparatory School has finished the final phase of their sports development, opening the doors to a state of the art facility which incorporates a five court multi sport hall, 25m pool and ancillary accommodation, and it is no surprise that the staff and pupils couldn’t be happier!

The school’s original sports hall dated from 1955 and was undersized for numerous sports, many of which were important to the school. The pool could only be utilised in the summer months, so in 2015 plans for a new sports hub were approved to provide a wider range of sports, all year round.

Sitting in 70 acres of land the school funded the build from the sale of a small parcel of land which had been approved for the development of four houses. The money raised gave the school a great opportunity and to ensure this was optimised they set about achieving their vision with the funds available. 

The first phase; an outdoor floodlit astro pitch and three hard courts for tennis and netball was completed in spring 2015. The second phase was the indoor sports facility; a large project which consisted of a five court multi sport facility complete with spectator gallery, 25m swimming pool, four shower and changing facilities, a reception area and a large storage space. 

The school, led by Bursar Andrew Brown, entered into discussions with Collinson plc, a national sports facility specialist.

Andrew said ‘We were familiar with the tensile building construction method and knew it offered excellent value for money. We also placed great value on Collinson’s experience in this sector, they guided us through the many decisions necessary and we were able to trust their advice in unfamiliar territory, such as acoustics and air handling throughout the building, their experience has been pivotal to the build’s success’.  He continued: ‘the natural light provides a superb environment for sport and during daylight hours no artificial lighting is required, which was attractive when looking at the running costs of the facility.’

The sports hall was designed and built using the Challenger™ Tensile Structure and comprises a five badminton court sized hall which links to an fully insulated Evolution™ structure providing an additional 775m² of space to house the pool and ancillary accommodation. 

Externally, cedar cladding has been incorporated into the design. The school sits in a woodland setting and it was decided to carry the theme through to the structure, and from an architectural perspective it has been observed how well such a large structure sits in the environment.      

The initial swimming lessons have been a great success, with the children thoroughly enjoying being in the pool and looking forward to their next lesson. The sports hall is being put to use for a wide variety of sports, including tennis, cricket, netball, basketball, badminton, boccia and floorball, with the children enjoying such a large, indoor space to show off their skills.

Not only have the new facilities opened more options for indoor sporting activities at the school but they are also being enjoyed by the wider community. to date, Eversley Tennis Club, local cricket clubs, Finch and Berkshire netball are improving their skills at these outstanding amenities.

The five badminton court facility meets Sport England Specification and also incorporates a full size tennis court, five mini tennis courts, netball, basketball and four indoor cricket nets. The design of the courts provides the flexibility to be divided into a three/two court orientation, allowing separate sports to take place in their own areas at the same time. A viewing gallery offers spectators a bird’s eye view of the action!

The school opened the doors to the new indoor facility in November, Jonathan Smith, Director of Sport, is delighted with the new facilities: “It is amazing to have the new facilities open and it is wonderful to see the children so excited to be using them. They provide a superb setting for us to expand our sports offering and really take sport at St Neot’s to the next level.”



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