Leisure & Public Services

Why not dive in and see how we can work together?

With ever increasing financial pressures bearing down on local government, public services are under the spotlight perhaps more than ever before. This is particularly the case for those services that authorities are not legally obliged to provide. However, whilst the likes of leisure, arts and cultural services might at a first glance appear to be in the immediate sights of those holding the purse strings, many authorities have in fact realised that prudent and innovative investment in these areas can generate significant returns not only in terms of health, well-being and social value, but also from an economic, financial and regeneration perspective. These returns can then be used to subsidise other service areas under stress, including health, care and education.

We have a long history of working on innovative delivery structures within each of these sectors and an increasingly important part of our role when acting for Local Authorities, trusts, charities and service providers, is to support the realisation of these returns by applying our expertise and adding genuine value to projects.

Cutting Edge Expertise

We have always been at the forefront of the latest developments in these sectors, having advised on leisure, sport and cultural outsourcing projects for over 15 years. Our experience embraces a wide variety of delivery models. These include the establishment of charitable trusts (NPDOs) as well as privately financed special purpose vehicles (SPVs) through the use of corporate financing, asset financing and private finance initiative funding (PFI). They also include the more traditional outsourcing models, innovative public, private partnerships (PPPs) and the use of prudential borrowing within design, build, finance, operate and maintain structures (DBFOs) to deliver a broad range of new and refurbished facilities.

We have also acted on mixed use schemes involving health, retail and commercial elements in which leisure and library facilities, together with a sports stadium, have served as catalysts to wider regeneration and investment. In addition, we have set up a corporate joint venture entity owned equally by a Local Authority and a private sector operator to manage and upgrade facilities in the North West, including a ski slope, an aquatics centre, a running track and an adventure golf course.

Having also acted on numerous projects involving leisure and sports facilities that are shared with schools, we have an enviable depth and breadth of experience at the disposal of our clients, whether they are public sector, private sector or third sector.

We Understand Effective Procurement

Because we have dedicated procurement lawyers within our team and because we are continually providing bid support to either procurers or bidders, we understand the bidding process from all sides of the transaction. Meeting deadlines are as important to us as they are to our clients and we will pull out all of the stops to ensure that they are never missed (however tight they may be). Winning (when acting for a bidder) or driving out value from bidders (when acting for the procurer) is equally as important and ensures that we will go that extra mile either to pick up extra marks or to squeeze out a little more where there is more to be squeezed out.

We are straightforward, friendly and approachable and always field a close knit, partner led team of lawyers that pride themselves on their approachable, down to earth manner. We do not chop and change people within the team but retain the same faces throughout relationships and projects with clients. We may occasionally call in expertise from other lawyers within the firm (construction, charities, banking and corporate or employment and pensions for example) but these are colleagues with whom we have worked on a number of projects and for a number of years. They are also extremely accessible because they are located within the same building.

We also have a culture of working extremely hard to meet deadlines and deliver real value to our clients in a practical, cost-effective and efficient manner that has team working and strong project management at its heart.

Regardless of the multi-faceted and complex nature of many of the projects that we advise on, our lines of communication are clear and simple. This is because our partners are very hands on and conspicuous. To us, delivering when we have said we will deliver, taking ownership of matters and not blaming others, and making contributions beyond the legal confines of a matter, are just as important as drafting contracts and giving the correct legal advice.

Recent Notable Cases

  • Acting for a charitable provider in the delivery of a leisure led regeneration scheme in the North of England involving the construction and management of a new football and rugby stadium; new leisure facilities; a library; health service accommodation; retail and commercial units; and the operation of mixed use facilities.
  • Acting for a successful bidder in establishing a corporate joint venture in the North East of England to invest in and operate council wide leisure and sports facilities.
  • Acting for a Local Authority in the Midlands in the procurement of its new leisure centre under the private finance initiative.
  • Acting for a leading sector provider in the Midlands successfully winning a bid to design build operate and maintain new and refurbished leisure facilities funded through prudential borrowing.
  • Acting for a leading leisure provider who has won a long term public private partnership with a council in the South West of England to run all of its leisure and recreational facilities and also to design, build and operate a new leisure centre.
  • Acting for a charitable entity on a privately financed leisure and housing regeneration scheme in London under which listed leisure facilities are refurbished and operated and maintained.

Get in touch

Paul Buckland

  • London Office
  • Devonshires Solicitors LLP
  • 30 Finsbury Circus
  • London
  • EC2M 7DT