Helping the government of Jersey to develop and implement its new approach to community sport and wellbeing is a major project for the KKP team. Having managed this remotely for some considerable time and now able to work with project colleagues face to face, David McHendry looks at some of the aspects of the scheme that make it slightly unusual but particularly interesting.
Over the past couple of years KKP has been working with the government of Jersey to review and renew sport and recreation provision on the island. It is a long-term, large-scale project that includes a comprehensive replacement and upgrading of Jersey’s sport and wellbeing facilities, a management options appraisal plus related work on its playing fields, open spaces and community activity.
As a consequence, the scheme draws on a great many of KKP’s areas of experience and expertise, making it an ideal commission for a multi-disciplinary consultancy practice. While the varied professional demands of the project are familiar territory for the KKP team, some key elements of the project make it particularly interesting.
Perhaps the first aspect to note is that this is a genuinely comprehensive assignment. Jersey’s Inspiring Active Places Strategy covers all aspects of its sport and physical activity offer – at a scale to match its ambition. It envisages a ten-year implementation with the potential for significant initial investment over the next three years.
The Inspiring Active Places Strategy sets out specific plans for the Island’s sport and recreation offer based on wellbeing and physical activity rather than a simple facility-focused approach. The strategy implementation includes investment in Springfield and Oakfield leisure centres to accommodate the relocation of all sports functions from the ageing Fort Regent Leisure Centre (which is scheduled for redevelopment). Thereafter there will be major investment in Le Roquier to create a sport and wellbeing hub on the current school site; this will be informed by a review of swimming pool provision, with the aim of rebalancing provision across the island.
Consultation in respect of the first of the sites within the overall project has begun and will feed into the brief for the integrated design team, of which KKP is a core member. Supported and informed by the consultation process, this team will consider options with regard to the type, mix and location of facilities. The full extent of KKP’s broad experience in all aspects of sport, leisure and regeneration will therefore be called into play and fully exercised as part of this.
A second notable aspect of the project is our involvement for the full extent of the project timeline. While we are accustomed to being involved with large facilities (examples include the Sunderland Aquatics Centre, Glasgow’s Emirates Arena and the University of Warwick Sport and Wellness Hub), in many cases the role of the leisure consultant is solely focused at the front end: exploring feasibility and making the business case for investment. In Jersey, KKP is involved at all stages of the process and, as part of the integrated design team, will be on board through to handover.
Our commission for this work represents a long-term commitment between KKP and the Jersey government. Our role be to work alongside project management, cost consultants and architects providing support for the government team.
Another interesting element of the Jersey project has been the working protocols required over the past couple of years. KKP’s involvement commenced during the Covid-19 pandemic, which meant that everyone involved in the early development stages of Springfield and Oakfield had to embrace the use of online communication.
It was remarkable how quickly the concept of remote working became firmly embedded in working practice, but this new approach did throw up some interesting challenges. The abrupt termination of site visits and face-to-face meetings has led to Teams and Zoom quickly becoming second nature, allowing meetings to continue and projects to progress, albeit reflecting the many ongoing uncertainties of an unprecedented situation.
In 2022, with restrictions easing and in-person meetings finding their way back into diaries, it is interesting to reflect on the impact that this new approach has had. While what we used to call ‘tele-conferencing’ had been a sparsely used mechanism for years, under pandemic conditions it was quickly and widely adopted. Now it is the default option.
Managing projects via Teams and Zoom has meant that meetings tend to be more frequent but also more focused – and usually shorter. This, combined with no requirement (or indeed permission) to travel, has meant that finding space in the diary is easier. Increased availability and fewer diary clashes meant it was more straightforward to assemble the right people round the virtual table, making meetings more effective and speeding progress.
Having recently visited Jersey again after a lengthy absence, I was struck by how far we had come, not only in terms of miles travelled to get there but also the development of the project. When prevented from making the trip across the Channel, all the individuals and organisations involved with the scheme were able to continue working and make sure very little time was wasted. While in-person contact and conversations remain an important part of building effective working relationships, it is clear that remote working tools and techniques have already and will continue to have a huge impact on how projects are managed, progressed and delivered.
David McHendry is KKP’s managing director. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org