Job search
Job Search

Development: Three footballers have teamed up to form a development company that plans to galvanise communities

Three England footballers have teamed up to form a development company that plans to use sport as a catalyst to build thriving communities. Tom Walker and Kim Megson find out about the Legacy Foundation and its plans for 1,300 homes in Bedfordshire

by Tom Walker, Leisure Media | Published in Sports Management Mar Apr 2017 issue 130
Read on turning pages | Download PDF of this issue
Ex footballer Rio Ferdinand has set his sights on helping communities in need / portraits by Jake Ratcliffe
Ex footballer Rio Ferdinand has set his sights on helping communities in need/ portraits by Jake Ratcliffe

“Our aim is to provide sport and high quality housing to the areas and estates that need them the most,” says Rio Ferdinand, former Manchester United and England captain. “We’re going to try to empower the young people – the next generation – by using sport. That’s what we’ve committed ourselves to.”

Ferdinand is describing the unique urban regeneration model he’s looking to introduce across the UK, designed to use physical activity as a way to breathe new life into communities. Combining sports and leisure facilities with residential and community spaces, the idea is to build entirely new residential developments and to mix high-quality social housing with privately-owned homes and sports facilities .

While there is nothing unusual in incorporating private and social housing within a development, there are two aspects that make Ferdinand’s model unique. One is the central role that sport will play in the projects and the other is the high proportion of space reserved for social and affordable housing – up to 45 per cent of the total residential element in any location.

FUNDING MODEL
To drive his vision, Ferdinand has set up a charity called The Legacy Foundation (TLF) with two other footballers – West Ham captain Mark Noble and former England International and Brighton striker Bobby Zamora. The trio has already gathered a number of impressive partners for the project – insurance giant Aviva, construction group McLaren and property experts Colliers International – and is in now in advanced talks with a number of local councils to turn the vision into a reality.

The foundation’s model is based on delivering schemes without local authorities needing to finance the construction costs, while still giving them full control of the schemes once they’re completed.

This is achieved by the project’s funding model. The freehold of each project will be owned by the local authority and private investors are invited to buy leaseholds (of around 45 years) for the residential element. During the term of the lease, tenants pay rent to the local authority, with a proportion of it going back to the investor – providing a revenue stream for both.

After the leases expire, the private sector investors give up the leasehold, leaving the local authority with the full ownership of the site. The local authority can then retain the asset and continue to have an income stream – or, if it so wishes, can trigger the right to buy and sell the units.

SPORTING LIVES
At the heart of each TLF project will be a wide range of high-quality sports facilities, each catering for the community’s exact needs. According to Ferdinand, the three footballers – who all grew up in “tough environments” – will not only ensure that the sporting element will be central to TLF projects, but also that their own, first-hand experience will be utilised when it comes to deciding the type of facilities needed.  

“We all come from similar backgrounds – growing up on estates,” says Ferdinand. “We recognise that the kids living in estates need to have people they can look up to and be inspired by – we’re hoping to provide that.”

Zamora believes that sport is the one factor that can be the difference between a thriving community and a group of people merely living close to each other. “Sport can be a unifying force,” he says.

“I grew up in east London and I used to come home from school, go straight outside and play football. We had a youth facility at the end of the road and it was such a good place to be. There was stuff to do, an unbelievable indoor basketball court and mentors who were there to help you out.

“That’s something we envision our Legacy sites will have – a place where everyone can go and be as one.”

FIRST PROJECT
TLF is currently in advanced talks with Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) to build its first site. Working together with the council, TLF has identified a 22-hectare site in Kingsland, north of the town of Houghton Regis – one of most underprivileged areas in the UK. CBC owns the land on a 125-year lease from the Department of Education and architects Hawkins\Brown have already designed the masterplan for the site.

As well as 1,300 homes, the £400m (US$488.6m, €448.6m) plans include a sports hub and leisure centre, swimming pool, football pitches, a health centre, a new education campus, a subsidised creche and large, open green spaces.

Zamora says it is important that the sports facilities provided are diverse and reflect the local population. “There will be a range of sports – not just football,” he says. “Some might expect the projects to be heavy on football because we’re involved, but we realise that many people aren’t interested in that particular game.

“When we went to Central Bedfordshire we talked to a lot of kids. There’s a girl there who runs for England. She drives for an hour because that’s the closest athletics track to where she lives in Houghton Regis.

“It’s people like that we want to provide facilities for. Even if it’s a 100m track, we’ll try to put that down. There’ll be multi-sports facilities, a leisure centre on site, a swimming pool – lots of sports will be included.”

Ferdinand adds that the most crucial aspect of the Bedfordshire project has now been secured. “The funding is in place via institutional funds and private equity, so we’re up and running,” Ferdinand says. “We aim to start on site in early 2017 and to be delivering our first homes within a year.”

FUTURE VISIONS
The trio says that Kingsland will be a “great example” of the type of development TLF wants to roll out to key locations across the UK – and their sights are set on London.

“We’ve been speaking to the likes of Newham Council and London Borough of Barking and Dagenham,” Ferdinand reveals. “It’s going well but it takes time. I’m from Southwark and I want a TLF project there. I’d be so disappointed if it didn’t happen.”

It is clear that, despite achieving so much in his footballing years – 17 major titles – Ferdinand feels he has found another calling.

“We’re currently known as footballers, but I don’t want to be known as ‘just a footballer’ for the rest of my life,” he says.

“I want to do something that my family and friends – and especially my children – will look back at and say ‘you know what, he did something for the community – he created something sustainable and helped people in those communities’. And this, The Legacy Foundation, is a great way of achieving that.”

Q&A with Bobby Zamora

How did the idea for The Legacy Foundation come about?
While playing for Queens Park Rangers, I travelled to training with Rio every day for a year. It was an hour and half journey there and back, so we’d sit there and discuss life – we solved all the world’s problems by the end of the journey! We were both used to going to little charity events where you smile, take some photos and you don’t really feel like you’ve made a real difference. With Legacy, when it comes to it, you can see that you’ve majorly changed people’s lives, and that really means a lot to me.

Can you explain the design of the first site in Houghton Regis?
We’re quite fortunate the site itself is around 22 hectares, so it’s a big, expansive space. That’s hard to find in places like London. From a design perspective, we want to make sure there’s lots of green space, because that’s really important for wellbeing.

We don’t want it to be concrete blocks and typical 60s estates. We want to create the feeling of a community. Our foundation and our school will be on site, and we’re working hard to make sure they’re at the heart of the community.

Sign up for FREE ezines & magazines
Sports jobs
Everyone Active
featured job

Swimming Teachers

Everyone Active
Salary: Competitive hourly rate
Job location: Nationwide

Personal / Fitness Trainer - Glasgow Vinicombe Street

The Gym Group
Salary: Fantastic Benefits
Location: Glasgow, Scotland

Senior Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £19,775 per annum (39 hours a week pro rata)
Location: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

Senior Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £19,775 per annum (39 hours pro rata)
Location: Chesham, Buckinghamshire

Class Instructors

Wiltshire Council
Salary: £15.38 - £26.25 per hour
Location: Amesbury, Salisbury, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £18,305 per annum (39 hours a week pro rata)
Location: Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £18,305 per annum (39 hours a weeks pro rata
Location: Chesham, Buckinghamshire

Personal / Fitness Trainer - Hemel Hempstead

The Gym Group
Salary: Fantastic Benefits
Location: Hertfordshire, England

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £18,305 per annum (39 hours a week pro rata)
Location: Hatfield, Hertfordshire

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £10.55 per hour
Location: Hackney, East London
recruiting with sports management

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £22,008 per annum (40 hours a week pro rata)
Location: Hackney, East London

Personal / Fitness Trainer - Birmingham Perry Barr

The Gym Group
Salary:
Location: West Midlands, England

Netball Coaches

Everyone Active
Salary: Competitive rate of pay
Location: South East, UK

Recruitment Open Day

GLL
Salary: Up to £22,008 per annum
Location: Lambeth, London, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £16,696 per annum
Location: Liskeard, Cornwall, UK

Duty Manager

Sylvestrian Leisure Centre
Salary: Competitive
Location: Snaresbrook, London, UK

Swimming Teacher

New Hall School
Salary: £20 - £25 per hour
Location: Boreham, Chelmsford, UK
recruiting with sports management

Lifeguard

New Hall School
Salary: £9.02 - £10.76 per hour
Location: Boreham, Chelmsford, UK

Saturday Swimming Teacher

New Hall School
Salary: £20 - £25 per hour
Location: Boreham, Chelmsford, UK

Graduate Boarding Assistants

New Hall School
Salary: £18,476
Location: Boreham, Chelmsford, UK

Lecturer in Cricket

Myerscough College
Salary: £20,657 – £29,880 per annum
Location: Preston, UK

Level 2 Swimming Teacher

Everyone Active
Salary: £14.50 per hour
Location: South Oxhey, Watford, UK

Level 2 Swimming Teachers

Everyone Active
Salary: £14.50 per hour
Location: South Oxhey, Watford, UK

Duty Manager

GLL
Salary: Up to £22,930 per annum (based on 39 hrs per week)
Location: Amersham, Buckinghamshire, UK
training with sports management

Duty Manager

GLL
Salary: Up to £25,655 per annum (based on 40 hrs per week)
Location: Kentish Town, London, UK

Health and Fitness Supervisor

GLL
Salary: Up to £23,894 per annum (based on 40 hrs per week)
Location: Redhill, Surrey, UK

Assistant Manager

énergie group
Salary: Competitive
Location: Basildon, UK

Fitness Instructor

énergie group
Salary: Competitive
Location: Basildon, UK

Duty Manager

GLL
Salary: Up to £25,655 per annum (based on 40 hrs per week)
Location: Thamesmead, London, UK

Swimming Instructors

Lex Leisure
Salary: Competitive
Location: Bexleyheath, UK

Recreation Assistants

Lex Leisure
Salary: Competitive
Location: Bexleyheath, UK
lifeguard jobs  swimming teacher jobs  recreation assistant jobs  apprenticeships jobs  personal trainer jobs  Gymnastics Coach jobs  duty manager jobs  assistant manager jobs  general manager jobs  assistant general manager jobs  Catering Assistant jobs  Customer Services Advisor jobs 
More jobs
Opinion
promotion
As an industry, we still underestimate the power of a truly varied fitness regime - and the growing appetite for it, especially among emerging customer segments.
Read more >
Opinion: Collaboration vs aggregation - what’s the difference?

Video Gallery

Wattbike
Introducing two new products to our commercial fleet.
Visit website
More videos

Company profile

Company profile: Matrix Fitness
Matrix strives to offer equipment that will captivate your members, is easy to maintain, and delivers the best return on investment. Intuitive operations on our complete range of cardio equipment combine technology and entertainment to provide an engaging and challenging workout.
View full profile >
More company profiles

Featured Supplier

30 and thriving: Physical Company celebrates landmark anniversary
Physical Company, a specialist equipment supplier based in the UK, has celebrated its thirtieth anniversary.
View full details >
More featured suppliers

Property & Tenders

Location:
Company: Kirklees Active Leisure
Location:
Company: Savills
More properties & tenders

Diary dates

15 Oct 2019
Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom
15-18 Oct 2019
Gran Via Exhibition Centre, Barcelona, Spain
28-30 Oct 2019
Hotel Royal Savoy, Lausanne, Switzerland
30-31 Oct 2019
NEC, Birmingham, United Kingdom
More diary dates