Basic Factors to Consider in Land Use Planning for Sports Stadiums

Sports stadiums are used for many types of events. As high-order facilities that provide ample space when people attend events, the land to be utilised for such facilities should meet specific requirements. To gain a better understanding of the factors taken in consideration when deciding what land is suitable for sport stadiums, we briefly look at a draft document from the Western Cape Government and their Environmental Affairs & Development Planning portfolio.

Their draft document titled Development Parameters: A Quick Reference for the Provision of Facilities within Settlements of the Western Cape includes proposed guidelines for land use planning for sports stadiums.

The draft document also provides quick reference information as related to community sport fields and other recreational facilities. For the purpose of this article, we briefly discuss the outline given specifically for land requirements as related to sports stadiums. Although the draft planning document relates to the Western Cape, it serves to illustrate the factors that are considered when applications for development of properties for recreational facilities, are reviewed.

How Sports Stadiums are Defined

According to the document, a stadium is a venue that facilitates the hosting of events, such as sports matches and concerts. The site consists of a large area with a field, which can be surrounded in full or only in part by a structure, such as a pavilion, where the spectators can stand or sit while they watch the event.

Location Factors

With a stadium’s purpose being to provide spectator access to events, it is designed to accommodate many spectators at once. This implies a traffic increase in the area where it is to be developed. To cater to the traffic increase, sufficient planning is necessary for the creation of accessible routes to the stadium.

Sports stadiums should thus be in proximity of public transport facilities, near major routes and within the area where secondary schools and tertiary education facilities are located. The site should also be within the cluster of sport and recreational facilities. Educational facilities that are near the stadiums benefit as they can host sports matches there, maximising the value of the sports stadiums for the surrounding communities.

Sports stadiums should ideally be located within easy reach of public transport facilities such as bus stations, train stations, airports, and taxi ranks. Many events are hosted at night. This implies that spectators will also need access to transport facilities at night.

Minimum Requirements for the Site

Land use planning takes into consideration the site size needed for particular developments. Generally, at least three hectares should be available for parking. The surrounding area for stalls, ablutions, access control, and exhibitions must also be taken into consideration. The primary land use for the area plays an important role in determining the site size needed. Community stadiums cater to smaller events and thus need less space whereas regional ones, where matches are played on a provincial and national level, require larger areas because thousands of spectators can be expected at such events.

Minimum Number of People Needed

Stadiums fall within the higher-order category in terms of land use planning. To justify the development of land for use as a stadium, there should thus be enough people within the surrounds to ensure the viability of the facility. These facilities are expensive to develop and require maintenance. As such, the facilities are best located within urban areas with sufficient population to ensure optimal use. The number of dwelling units or people in the areas surrounding a stadium is, according to the document, at least 25 000 dwellings or at minimum 100 000 people.

Number of Parking Bays

Depending on the location of the particular stadium, the visitors commute to events by means of public transport, by foot, or private passenger vehicles. In this regard, the draft document recommends a minimum of 350 bays per 100 000 person capacity of a stadium.

Several other factors are taken into consideration as part of land use planning for sports stadiums. Each province has its own guidelines for reviewing applications. It is best to consult with an experienced town planning firm, such as The Practice Group, right from the concept development phase to ensure the correct choice of land for the particular type of development.