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Find the perfect facility

We know that lots of organisations who provide sport and physical activity struggle to access facilities.

They rely on third-party premises like leisure centres, education sites, faith and community venues, parks and open spaces, and other public and private community locations.

Finding facilities in the right area, with the right type of space, which are affordable and aren’t already fully booked, can be challenging. This page is here to help!

It introduces some of the free tools you can use to find facilities and highlights some of key things to consider to help you access them.

Free facility finder tools

There are several free online tools that can help you search for different facilities. These include:

  • Active Places Power

    Active Places Power is an interactive tool, provided by Sport England, that can help you find different types of sports facilities in your local area.

    To use it, you’ll need to register and log in to the site. Once you’ve done this:

    1. Click on the ‘reports’ tab on the toolbar at the top of the page and select the ‘facilities’ button under ‘detailed reports’.
    2. Input your criteria including your area (local authority, county, or active partnership area) and the required facility type. 
    3. You can conduct a more detailed search by clicking the ‘more criteria’ dropdown to narrow your search by including specific ancillary facilities (like changing rooms) or search for facilities with disability access.
    4. Once you’ve confirmed your search criteria, click 'submit'. Details of the facilities that meet your criteria will then be listed. You can click on the ‘overview’ or ‘details’ button for each facility for more information. Each facility located at the same site will be listed separately. 
    5. You can save the full report by clicking the 'download' button at the top right of the results screen.

    Find more information and a user guide for Active Places Power.

  • Playfinder

    Playfinder, designed for community organisations, is easy to use and enables you to select the sport, activity, and location you are looking for facilities in.

    Matching results of the facility providers who are registered with Playfinder then appear.

    You don’t need to sign up or log in to search for venues but need to create an account if you want to book one of these facilities. 

  • Active Cubs

    Active Cubs is designed to help community organisations find their nearest sports facilities and venues. 

    Enter your postcode, search radius and required facility type into the search function. The tool then produces a list of facilities that meet your search criteria.

    You don’t need to register or log in to use it.

  • National governing bodies

    Some national governing bodies (NGBs) have their own facility finder tools or directories that list the facilities available for their sport.

    It’s worth checking with the NGB for the sports or activities that you deliver to see if they can help you in your search.

    For example, the NGB for tennis have a venue directory and the Football Foundation (the FA, Premier League and government charity) have Pitchfinder, which enables users to search for grass and artificial football pitches.    

  • Local council

    Most local council websites provide details of the sport, recreation and community facilities available in their area.

    You can use the government website to find your local council. Once you have, be sure to visit their website (and those of neighbouring councils) to see what you can find.

    For example, Camden Council provide a sports directory which lists all of the sports facilities in the borough, while Hackney Council and North Herts Council have search functions to enable organisations to find community venues to meet their needs. 

  • Active Partnerships

    Active Partnerships are locally led, not-for-profit, strategic organisations that bring together organisations and individuals with the common goal of increasing physical activity levels in their local area.

    Some provide information on the places and spaces where people can be physically active in their area.

    Find out which active partnership serves your local area. Once you’ve found yours, see if they have a facility finder tool like this one from Active Black Country. 


Things to consider with third-party facilities

When you’ve found somewhere you’d like to use, there are some key questions to consider:

  • Are the facilities appropriate? Do they provide the required space to carry out your activities safely? Read more on our facility needs page.
  • Do they have ancillary facilities, such as toilets, changing rooms, car parking, or a first aid room?
  • Are the facilities fully accessible to meet the needs of your people? Our guide to creating accessible facilities can support your discussions with facility providers on this.
  • Is the venue easily accessible via public transport? Does it have secure storage for people who travel via bike or scooter. 
  • Are the costs affordable? Are there any hidden costs like insurance or VAT you need to be aware of? What are the payment terms?
  • Where possible, make block bookings to secure your access for the period you need. Ask if they offer discounted rates for block bookings.
  • If there’s space available to store any kit or equipment if required? 
  • Do you and the facility provider have the relevant policies and procedures in place? For example, health and safety policies, risk assessments, safeguarding policies and procedures, insurance, policies for reporting of accidents and incidents.
  • Is there a defibrillator you can access on site? 

You can find more information on working with facility providers on our accessing school facilities page. This includes questions to ask facilities and what they may ask of your organisation.

Be sure to have a look at their vision, mission, values or aims, highlight any you share, emphasise the great work you do and how you benefit the community, and highlight anything you can offer them (coaching, taster sessions, holiday programmes etc).

Approach your conversations in a way that show you will be a trustworthy and reliable partner.