Off-the-peg detailed designs are being offered by quango to boost quality of sports architecture.
A range of off-the-peg sports halls is to be launched next month by Sport England in a bid to improve the quality of English leisure buildings.

Under the Optimum Sports Hall initiative, schools and community groups will be able to buy a complete set of detailed designs, schedules and bills of quantities for as little as £300.

Sport England drafted in a team, led by Studio E Architects, to develop the leisure designs.

Peter Clapp, head of design at Sports England, said the initiative would save £80 000 on design fees and nine months in time.

He said: "There's going to be a package of drawings people can take off the shelf to produce a superb building at a very low cost." By leapfrogging the normal procurement route, Sport England believes each project can go out to tender immediately and be on site within 12 weeks, with completion about six months later.

Clapp said the initiative was being launched in response to the poor quality of recent sports architecture. He said: "Sport does not have a culture of good design. We've had five years of lottery [funding] and we've not had one really good sports hall." Chancellor Gordon Brown allocated £600m for public sports facilities in the last budget. This could fund up to 400 halls in the next three years.

Brochures advertising the Optimum Sports Hall will be sent to every local authority in the country when the scheme is launched next month.

A range of three value-engineered designs – costing from £880 000 to build – will be offered. Each features a braced steel frame with a standing seam aluminium roof and contains a 33 × 18 m hall, fitness suite and community foyer as standard.

Clients can choose to add fully costed optional extras including different cladding solutions, public address systems and glazed walls.

"We don't intend them to grow like identical mushrooms all over the place," said Andrzej Kuszell of Studio E, who designed the scheme. "The package can be adapted by individual clients and their designers." Discussions are already under way to build the first hall at a school in Dagenham, Essex.

Kuszell added that the scheme, initially developed for lottery-funded projects, was benefiting from renewed political interest in sport following Britain's success at the Sydney Olympics last September. "Sport is now a serious political issue," he said. "The government is keen to be seen to be doing something." Studio E developed the scheme with structural engineer Techniker, services engineer Max Fordham & Partners and cost consultant Davis Langdon & Everest. Willmot Dixon acted as buildability consultant.

Sport England will follow up the sports hall initiative with an off-the-peg swimming pool design. The Optimum Swimming Pool is expected to be launched later this year.