26th May 2020
Tom Betts recently joined our Design and Planning department as Project Designer / Consultant, bringing with him a wealth of experience.
Busy and exciting – turning my attention from project consultancy to pre-construction development has been great fun – with lots of support from new colleagues with much experience and insight.
I joined the sports construction industry in September 1994, so I have worked within various functions and disciplines and with growing responsibilities for 25+ years.
My competency and talent has matured over this time which has helped me to accept and solve more complex project requirements and changing demands.
I am very much fascinated by the evolving nature of sports construction and facility design, contracts, development control, and procurement. So, I suppose this curiosity drives me to persistently check, review, adjust and improve my service offering to clients.
My role is Project Designer / Consultant, so I am tasked with developing schemes for clients from conception to build-readiness, then to be installed by our sports construction teams.
There are many interconnected processes required to convert an idea to construction-capable plan, so our constant challenge is to simplify this journey for our clients whilst making certain that all checks and balances (quality, cost, time) are achieved along the way.
The size of pitches, courts and tracks have changed little over 25 years, but substantial modifications have been seen in respect of surface technology, substrate preparation, and drainage engineering, as well as a host of ancillary items.
Testing and compliance activities have evolved during this time too. I think many inventions have been brought forward to address the genuine need to create artificial sports surfaces that perform more faithfully (and reliably similar) to natural turf, whilst other innovations are motivated by a wish for improved efficiency and economy. Very recently, innovations have turned towards sustainable recycling techniques and micro-plastic reduction, both being at the heart of responsible turf manufacturers, like our partners FieldTurf.
Concerning the planning system, I remember in the mid-90s there was some scrutiny that was justly applied to developments seeking planning permission; and this attention has grown over time and now covers wide-ranging proposal aspects (almost every part of a proposal). Fairly so I think, given our better understanding through experience of the potential impacts that a facility could create. It has always been essential to ensure any project is compatible with its surroundings and this assessment should begin at the earliest definition stage, even if this sometimes results in a changed brief and a more realistic option.
We have quickly become more conversant with technology to help us continue work remotely. This does have some advantages and reminds us that various types of interaction and meetings can take place very conveniently even if they are virtual. Naturally, our sports construction teams took stock when coronavirus pandemic arrived in the UK, to understand how this affects construction sites and to plan for safe working.
Thankfully, we are now largely working to full effect; having organised our works and services, our manufacturing, and our construction activities, acknowledging all necessary safety recommendations and social distancing requirements and in accordance with HM Government recommendations.
I don’t think this has ever changed – good guidance and leadership to help navigate a project through a variety of perhaps unfamiliar sequential stages with confidence and trust. Clients rightly want honesty, expertise, diligence and not necessarily the cheapest provider, but certainly best value.
Awareness, intervention, and judgement. We must stay an authority within this specialism to offer our clients the right advice, and take the right actions, at the right time.
For sports construction, designing and securing planning permission are dynamic situations; so an intricate knowledge of due process, potential opportunities and pitfalls is essential to properly steer any project and satisfy our clients’ objectives.
S&C Slatter is a successful and ambitious company with excellent resources and integrity at its core. I am attracted by these qualities and spotted an opportunity to strengthen our design and planning service. With my consultancy background, I really appreciate clients’ needs and can add this problem-solving attitude to our team.
I’m very into football, as an FA qualified coach and HTFC U12/U13 football manager. I also enjoy spending time with my family and playing music – particularly playing the drums.
Thanks so much to Tom for taking the time to do this Q&A with us, we’re thrilled to have him join us as Project Designer / Consultant – welcome to the team!
Our design and planning team will provide expert advice on what’s possible on site, and the best way to achieve your goals.
If you’re considering a sports construction project, and want to work with one trusted point of contact – from design and planning through to construction and aftercare – get in touch with Tom and the team on 01635 345 21 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.