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A positive impact on members, both old and new

With a strategy committed to expanding and modernising facilities to enhance the scholarship and professional services offered by the University of Kent, sport is certainly no exception.

Kent Sport had been managing the University of Kent sports facilities since their initial multi use sports hall was constructed back in the 6o’s, but with student numbers growing the demand for sports space had increased dramatically and not only was the existing facility  used for all sports but it was block booked for 6 weeks of term time for exams, leaving frustrated sports people, the conclusion . . . it was earmarked for expansion.

The project was significant, one consideration was the big demand for more indoor space for activity, including Tennis and Netball. The existing facility was outdoors and given the relentless wet weather last year it was decided to offer members a dedicated centre for Tennis and Netball, with consideration that the new facilities needed to be fairly versatile so it could accommodate other sports especially during the exams when the main facility was out of action.

So the brief was decided, Kent Sport did their research and soon found by opting for a clear span tensile membrane structure, they were able to get a lot for their money compared to a traditional build.

Several manufacturers were contacted, with the quotes and designs being scrutinised to ensure that that they were getting best value for their money, within budget but not compromising on quality. A Challenger™ facility by Lancashire based family firm Collinson plc was chosen, their proven track record in designing and delivering quality sports facilities convinced Kent Sport that this was the high quality product they needed, with everything in place a loan from the University of Kent was secured and build could commence.

The Challenger sports structure system is based on a clear span, steel superstructure which requires minimal foundations and can be quickly erected. This modular system is renowned for its efficiency, the frame is covered with a tensioned PVC membrane, the university opted for a white roof which allows light to permeate the building, flooding the courts with natural light, giving the effect of playing outdoors without the weather implications!

Externally on the walls they opted for a striking colour block effect, which also incorporates the Universities Logo on the front of the facility.

Collinson acted as Principal contractor for the design and build of the new facility which is 52m long x 35m wide; Internally comprising of 3 courts marked and kitted out for both games, energy efficient lighting and ventilation systems.

One end of the facility includes a glazed screen with sliding doors creating a light, airy playing environment even when they are closed to keep out the bad weather, spanning almost the full width of the facility, when the weather is good the doors are opened extending the indoors, outdoors onto the 3 external courts which are also marked out for both Tennis and Netball.

 The facility opened in June 2013 and is already proving to be a huge hit with existing members but as Ben Trott, Assistant Director - Operations at Kent Sport explained “We are in no doubt that the improvement gained from the build of the Tennis and Netball facility will have a positive impact on our membership levels”

The Tennis and Netball facility is part of a £4.8 Million investment into Kent Sport which also includes a new fitness suite, an additional multi purpose sports hall and two dance and fitness classes, all facilities are open for use by staff, students and the public.

Ben added “Collinson have been a pleasure to work with.  Professional from start to finish, with excellent communication and collaboration with the University and Kent Sport.”  

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