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Best practice principles

This section provides some examples for best practice principles used in the planning, design and development of sporting facilities.

Universal Design


Centre for Universal Design Australia

The aim of universalising design is to create a more inclusive world. The principles of Universal Design are being implemented internationally to bring about about changes in design thinking so that all people are considered regardless of age, capability or background. 

Queensland Government

Get in the game brochure thumbnail
Universal Design is a series of design principles that are implemented to maximise the potential of a facility to allow for greater access and greater use by all participants. There are seven primary principles which should be incorporated into an infrastructure design.  These are: Equitable Use, Flexibility in Use, Simple and Intuitive use, Perceptable Information, Tolerance for Error, Low Physcial Effort, Size and Space for Approach and Use. 

Get in the Game 2018-2020 - Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing

National Disability Authority (NDA)

The 7 Principles of Universal Design - NDA

The purpose of the Principles is to guide the design of environments, products and communications. According to the Center for Universal Design in NCSU, the Principles "may be applied to evaluate existing designs, guide the design process and educate both designers and consumers about the characteristics of more usable products and environments." 

Victoria State Government

Planning for equitable access - Sport and Recreation Victoria

Planning for equitable access is based on the concept and principles of universal design. In a practical sense in relation to sport and recreation facilities, this means that planning should be undertaken to ensure that the design of the facility supports and enables use by everyone. This includes children and older adults, people of different sizes and abilities, people with and without access challenges, people who are left handed or right handed and people using a range of mobility aids.


Planning for universal design - Sport and Recreation Victoria

Universal Design is a design philosophy that ensures that products, buildings, environments and experiences are innately accessible to as many people as possible, regardless of their age, level of ability, cultural background, or any other differentiating factors that contribute to the diversity of our communities.

New South Wales Everyone Can Play: Everyone Can Play is a best practice resource for councils, community leaders, landscape architects and passionate local residents. It is a reference guide for creating world-class playspaces, designed to include everyone in the community.

Inclusive Design

Inclusive Design Principles logo
Inclusive Design Principles

Inclusive Design Principles are about putting people first. It's about designing for the needs of people with permanent, temporary, situational, or changing disabilities — all of us really. They are intended to give anyone involved in the design and development of community sport infrastructure a broad approach to inclusive design.

Find out more about Inclusive Design Principles

Find out more about Social Inclusion - Healthy Spaces & Places

Accessible design (Regulations and Guidelines):

Commonwealth Consolidated Acts

Disability Discrimination Act 1992

NSW Government

Building Code of Australia brochure thumbnail
The Building Code of Australia (BCA) provides a set of measurable construction standards to be used in design and construction of new building work. In addition to the requirement for new work to comply with the BCA, in cases of existing buildings undergoing alterations and/or additions, some discretion is available for councils to require upgrading of the existing part of the building to meet the BCA, based on either fire safety or volume of work only. 

The Building Code of Australia - The Office of Environment and Heritage

Disability Action

Disability Action - Design & Management Guidelines brochure thumbnail
Although basic physical access to sports facilities in Northern Ireland has improved significantly in recent years, particularly as a direct response to the introduction of Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) in 2004, the majority of existing sports facilities still do not fully meet the sports and leisure requirements of people with disabilities. Where improvements have been made they tend to meet the minimum requirements of the DDA and Building Regulations rather than acceptable levels of good practice.

Design & Management Guidelines (2010) - Access to Sport Facilities For People With Disabilities - Prepared by Disability Sports NI jointly with Sport Northern Ireland

Other Design Resources

Sport England

Sport England - Active Design brochure thumbnail
Active Design takes a fresh look at the opportunities to encourage and promote sport and physical activity through the design and layout of our built environment to support a step change towards healthier and more active lifestyles. The Ten Principles of Active Design are identified by drawing from urban design practice and practical examples to promote environments that offer individuals and communities the greatest potential to lead active and healthy lifestyles.

Active Design - Planning for health and wellbeing through sport and physical activity - Sport England (October 2015)

Female friendly

Female Friendly Change Rooms Guide brochure thumbnail
Access to facilities that support and enhance participation is critical for Women’s sports at all levels, from grassroots through to elite. Having female friendly sporting clubs sends an important message to all females, that they are welcome in their chosen sport, and that their club’s culture is one that will facilitate and support their participation.

See also:

Female Friendly Sports Infrastructure Guidelines References - Sport and Recreation Victoria

Female Friendly Change Rooms at Sporting Facilities - ACT Government

Female friendly facilities is just the beginning! - GippSport

Signage / Wayfinding / Placemaking

Disability Services Queensland - Wayfinding design guidelines brochure thumbnail
Wayfinding design guidelines, outlines a practical and comprehensive design method to wayfinding using an inclusive design approach. The guidelines assist designers as well as developers, property owners and property managers in identifying ways of improving access to, into and through their new or existing property, particularly buildings and large complex facilities. The material sources include expert knowledge from architects, landscape architects, lawyers, engineers, building surveyors, building regulators, access consultants, local expertise and persons with a disability. 

Wayfinding design guidelines - Disability Services Queensland (Queensland Gov)

Western Sydney Parklands

Western Sydney Parklands Design Manual brochure thumbnail
The Western Sydney Parklands Design Manual outlines the general approach to planning and implementation of park infrastructure within the Western Sydney Parklands.  It outlines the vision for the Parklands and its relationship to infrastructure planning, design, and implementation.

Western Sydney Parklands Design Manual (p37) -  Western Sydney Parklands

Heart Foundation

Sense of Place  - Healthy Active by Design

Walkable environments are required to enhance the sense of community and social capital by encouraging and facilitating social ties or community connections through opportunities for residents to meet, interact and engage in their neighbourhood. Mixed-use planning and the presence of a variety of destinations also promote walking which in turn increases the sense of community or social capital through the facilitation of interaction between residents.

Healthy Active by Design Checklists - Healthy Active by Design

Design for Dignity

Designing for dignity should be part of every urban regeneration project. After all, thriving, vibrant places are the heart and soul of community and citizenship, where all people feel connected and included in all their diversity.

Design for Dignity guidelines - Design for Dignity