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Raising the standards for sports facility projects

We are the recognised trade association for the sports and play construction industry in the UK. All of our members go through a strict checking process:

  • Strict Admission Criteria
  • Standards of Construction
  • Code of Professional Conduct
  • Technical Mediation
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SAPCA is committed to increasing knowledge and understanding across the sports and construction industry to ensure all project deliver longevity and cost-effectiveness. We want to help build an active nation by supporting the delivery of successful sporting environments.

Find and view research relating to the advancement of sports surfaces, facilities or equipment below.

Shockpad Layers for Synthetic Surfaces

Dr Paul Fleming, Dr Lauren Anderson & Dr Ali Ansarifar. This report summarises the research findings from a four year research project and makes recommendations to the sports surfacing industry regarding shockpad layers used in outdoor synthetic sports pitches. Its purpose is improve the quality and consistency of shockpads constructed on-site.

Drainage behaviour of sports pitches

Should your sports surface be subject to drainage restrictions in planning?

What is the background to this issue?

Any new development in the UK must demonstrate that it will not have an adverse effect on flood risk through the discharge of surface water into existing infrastructure and watercourses.

As a result, drainage restrictions are often applied to planning applications and new sports facilities have been subject to these restrictions, particularly where sports pitches (natural or synthetic) are anticipated to discharge rainwater into local watercourses without any intervention or control.

There have been conflicting opinions about the contribution to local flood risk of the storm water and run off from sports pitches. In some cases, synthetic pitches have been deemed as impermeable within planning consents and facilities have therefore been required to invest in large attenuation tanks, designed to store storm water for controlled release into the local drainage network. Whilst this measure is effective, it can add significant cost to a project budget.

However, many in the sports construction industry feel that in reality pitch drainage systems discharge low volumes of water and low peak flow rates, with limited surface runoff, especially from porous artificial pitches.

Are storage tanks necessary?

In 2016, Loughborough University published the findings of a research study – the first of its kind – which set about better understanding the drainage capabilities of sports pitches.

Over three years, experts took measurements at a range of artificial and natural sports pitches, undertook laboratory testing and developed mathematical modelling to predict how pitch systems might be expected to perform hydraulically.

The findings support the claims that in some cases, particularly where there is a lack of understanding or evidence on how pitches can attenuate and store water, planning approvals may be demanding unnecessary offline water storage tanks within the design of the pitch drainage.

What does this mean for my project?

Each individual project is unique and it is still important to consider drainage design when installing a new sports pitch. SAPCA’s list of members includes a number of organisations that can design, supply and install sports pitches, as well as advising on drainage for your specific project.

Where can I find out more?

You can access a full copy of the Loughborough University report here.