Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sports Facilities 'Being Built Too Slowly' to Meet Demand after 2012

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sports Facilities 'Being Built Too Slowly' to Meet Demand after 2012

Article excerpt

Byline: Matthew Beard Sports News Correspondent

A LACK of new sports facilities in London could undermine pledges to use the 2012 Olympics to promote healthier lifestyles, a report warns.

A survey has found that the number of sports centres being opened or refurbished across the capital has slowed over the last two years, largely due to the recession.

Researchers said there was a "rather disappointing absence" of an "Olympic effect", despite a burst of activity following the decision in July 2005 to award the Games to London.

The research, by property firm Drivers Jonas, found 61 sports facilities were opened or refurbished in 2007 and last year -- the same number as in the 18 months after July 2005.

There has also been a slowdown in the number of planned schemes, from 36 to 21.

Report author Geoff Aucock said the Games were expected to provoke a rush among Londoners to become more active. This meant facilities -- private and council-run -- had to be improved to ensure there was capacity to meet demand after 2012.

"It will be like trying to find a tennis court in the fortnight after Wimbledon -- everybody wants one," said Mr Aucock. "Keeping things going after 2012 will be the issue.

"Recently the Government has moved from developing new facilities, in the knowledge that this in itself is unlikely to increase participation, to trying to subsidise the use of facilities for children and pensioners."

Councils rely on private developers to donate money for sports facilities in return for planning permission. However, there has been a huge fall in applications due to the property crash.

The Government aims to get an extra two million British adults exercising regularly by 2012. Meanwhile, one of the London bid's five core promises was to make the UK "world-class" in terms of medals and wider sports participation. But the report said meeting the targets was a "tough challenge".

The capital has higher participation than the rest of the country, but increasing the level is proving difficult. …

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