Neil Allen Associatesindependent



As one of the leaders in strategic sport and leisure planning, naa is able to add valuable sport and leisure expertise to multi-disciplinary teams and can deliver bespoke solutions across all aspects of the industry - individually or in collaboration with colleagues from the naa team.

The sport sector is now rich with data sources, the key challenge is to make sense of what it all means and use the evidence to support local needs analysis, decision making and future land use. As set out in National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) paragraph 73, ‘Planning policies should be based on robust and up-to-date assessments of the needs for open space, sports and recreation facilities and opportunities for new provision.’  

naa team members are able to offer unique experience in terms of the Facilities Planning Model (fpm), Active Places, Active People and Market Segmentation to ensure robust and up-to-date needs assessments. naa are also supporting Sport England in the development of the new Playing Pitch Methodology and replacement PPG17 Companion Guide, Assessing Needs and Opportunities for Sport, in line with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) ensuring all our work uses the most up-to-date methodologies.

How can we help you? The naa team is currently supporting a whole range of local authorities, private sector clients, clubs, schools and ngbs with their strategic planning and commissioning challenges:

The dedicated naa team led by Neil Allen is set out below.

Meet The Framework Team
Neil Allen

Neil Allen is an experienced consultant with over 25 years experience in the leisure industry. Neil was part of the consortium appointed by Sport England to offer strategic planning advice to local authorities, to work with local authorities as enablers to support the strategic planning function. The Facilities Improvement Service (FIS). As Director of naa, Neil is uniquely placed to draw the Framework team together. He is experienced as Project Director and Project Manager and through his work on the FIS, previous consultancies and naa he has an unrivalled track record of delivery in strategic planning. Neil has worked closely with all naa team members over the past 7-years on all the company’s projects.

Neil is a CIMSPA Fellow and sits on the CIMSPA Policy Forum, he is an advisor to the Association of Colleges on the National standards for College Sport, a former Green Flag Awards Assessor and former CABE Space Advisor. He is a regular speaker on strategic planning and helped launch the Sport and Cultural Planning Toolkit in the north-west on behalf of the MLA. Neil is committed to improving strategic planning across the sector and has trained Sport England staff on all aspects of strategic planning. Neil is currently supporting Sport England in the development of the new Playing Pitch Methodology and replacement Companion Guide, Assessing Needs and Opportunities for Sport, in line with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

David Payne

David Payne has over 25 years experience in undertaking needs assessments and then applying this in sports specific facility strategies, strategic planning, project feasibility studies or in planning policy. David is a member of the RTPI and prior to working with naa, David was a Board Director for Sport England with organizational wide responsibility for all of Sport England’s strategic planning work. He developed Sport England’s advisory services in the planning, development and management of sports and recreational facilities and was Sport England’s appointed adviser to Government on all matters relating to Planning for Sport. He led the work to establish Sport England as a statutory consultee on planning applications relating to playing fields and regularly works in the private sector and with house builders, providing advice on sport and leisure planning policy.

David is the leading deliverer of fpm work on behalf of Sport England and one of the leading experts in its interpretation and application. David is a key naa team member and has worked on numerous studies including built facility strategies for Birmingham City Council, Central Lincolnshire and Warwick District Council and on a major feasibility studies and options appraisals for Sheffield City Council, Lichfield District Council and Olympic Park Legacy Company.

Carolyn Wilkinson

Carolyn Wilkinson is an experienced consultant with nearly 15 years of experience in strategic planning for sport and leisure. Since leaving university, Carolyn progressed through PMP Consultancy to Head of the Sport and Leisure Planning Division, a team which specialised in strategic planning, and focused on the production of PPG17 Studies, Playing Pitch Strategies, needs assessments and Sport and Recreation Strategies. She has worked on behalf of both public and private sector clients and has a reputation for delivering high quality outputs to a variety of briefs. Reflecting her expertise in the sector, Carolyn is a regular speaker at RTPI conferences and has presented on several occasions on the principles of PPG17 and best practice approaches to the preparation of needs assessments and strategies.

Carolyn provides the dedicated lead on naa’s Playing Pitch Strategy work and has delivered numerous studies including Cheshire West and Chester, Harrogate Borough Council, Hartlepool Borough Council, Amber Valley Council.

Michael Presland

A geographer by inclination and a planner by training, Michael Presland has been involved in sport and recreation planning for nearly 30 years. He is a member of the RTPI and CIMSPA and worked with naa as part of the FIS Service for over 3 years. Michael has undertaken a large number of strategic and land use planning assignments related to sport, mainly with the public sector, and is particularly skilled in the use of Sport England planning tools and techniques, including the Facilities Planning Model (fpm), Active People and Active Places, stakeholder consultation and engagement and the production of playing pitch assessments and sports facility needs assessments. Recent and current naa projects include strategic studies for Central Bedfordshire, Merton and Broxbourne Council.


Jacqueline Bennet

Jacqueline Bennett holds an honours degree in Geography, a Master of Philosophy in Town Planning and is a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute. She was in the first tranche of CABE Space Enablers to be appointed in 2004. Jacqueline was the first planning officer to be employed by Sport England, in its Greater London and South East office, and for 30 years her professional work has been in planning for sport, particularly in developing and refining the methodologies for playing pitch and open space assessments and in protecting open space provision. She has also worked extensively on regional and district strategic and sports specific facility planning and lottery monitoring and more recently, PPG17 Studies, developer contributions policies and playing pitch strategies highlighting BSF projects. Recent and current naa projects include strategic studies for Waltham Forest and Torbay Council.


Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee is a highly qualified, motivated and driven senior professional with an extensive background in consultancy, strategy development particularly with regards to sports facilities and PPG 17 studies, project management, business planning and business case development. Relevant and significant assignments include Regional Manager for Active Places, management and development of Sport England NW Regional Strategic Facility Evidence Base, numerous PPG17/Open Space Studies and Sports Facility Strategies. Drew has significant ngb experience and is currently working in an interim management senior role within a high profile NGB (British Cycling Federation). Andrew has worked closely with naa since its inception on numerous joint sport and planning projects.


Geoff Hughes

Geoff Hughes is a Chartered Town Planner with a broad range of expertise in strategy preparation, programme development and project delivery. As a Chartered Town Planner for 32 years with 11 years of experience in local government in planning and leisure departments at District and County level and 20 years at Sport England leading strategic planning in the Northern Region Geoff has a wealth of experience in ensuring an integrated approach to sports facility development. He has been responsible for developing strategies at a local, sub regional, regional and also at national level. At Sport England Geoff managed the facilities team and for 7 years combined this role with leading national policy for the organisation on countryside and water sports and works closely with the ngbs concerned. Geoff worked with naa as part of the FIS Service for over 3 years and his recent and current naa projects include Harrogate Borough Council and Hartlepool Council.

Graham Jones

Graham Jones holds an honours degree in Town and County Planning and a Master of Philosophy degree in Social Science Research. Graham is a town planner by training and a sports and recreation planner by experience. He has worked in local government, for Sport England, and with a large private consultancy. Graham worked as a planner for two local authorities and then spent three years with the (then) Sports Council in the south west as a Planning and Development Officer. In 1989 he moved into private practice, specialising in recreational issues. He has delivered numerous Playing Pitch Strategy and PPG17 assignments. Graham is an integral member of the naa team and also provides the GIS support across all naa studies.


Brian Robinson

Brian Robinson has a wide portfolio spanning sport, leisure and tourism consultancy. He has worked with naa since 2007 on various strategic planning assignments including school rationalisation work in Blackburn, Rochdale and Doncaster. Brian’s specialisms, developed over 25 years in the sector during which time he worked for Sport England, include: facility planning, computerised modelling, needs assessment, Active Places Power, wintersports, training, marketing and international tourism linked to sports and outdoor activities. Brian is one of the leading exponents of Active Places Power and the fpm in the country and has trained both local authorities and ngbs in its use and application.


Martin Drennan

Martin Drennan is a Chartered Town Planner with over 20 years’ experience in strategic planning for sport. He is a member of the RTPI and CIMSPA. Martin joined Sport England as Regional Planner in the South West in 1991, following local government positions in both planning policy and development control. At Sport England, Martin provided advice and support to local authorities, County Sports Partnerships and National Governing Bodies of Sport on a wide range of sports planning work, including planning applications, local and regional planning policy, and the use of Sport England planning tools and techniques. Martin left Sport England in March 2012, and now provides support to the naa team on a range of sports planning projects. Martin is currently working on a major strategic assignment for naa in Torbay.



Hazel Barber

Hazel BarberHazel has a wealth of knowledge and experience across several sectors with a degree in Plant Biology and a Master’s degree in Landscape Management,which underpins her experience and skill base. Hazel has over 20 years of experience, working in the public sector at Wirral Metropolitan, Ellesmere Port and Cheshire West and Chester Borough Councils in a variety of roles within Leisure and Environment, from Policy Officer to Parks Manager. She has a wide breadth of knowledge in the production of strategic and general planning documents, in sport and recreation and landscape and countryside. She has extensive experience on the construction of natural turf sports pitches and the management of outdoor recreation and public spaces, including working with National Governing Bodies for sport, and making funding applications to add value to schemes and provide economic solutions.

Hazel also has extensive experience in the production of the Open Space Audits and Assessments of Needs (PPG17) and Playing Pitch Strategies and recently project managed the assessments for Cheshire West and Chester Council whilst working at the authority. Hazel has also taken the strategies to the local level, producing pitch and playing field strategies for local areas in conjunction with Sport England, to facilitate successful planning applications or conversely to defend playing fields from development.

She has a sound knowledge of the planning system, contributing to the production of policy and the setting of local standards for open space and leisure facilities as well as acting as an expert witness at appeals and inquiries concerning the loss or development of playing fields.

Hazel has planned, designed and managed sports turf projects, large and small, from feasibility to completion, including the provision of new football pitches and changing accommodation, as well as drainage and re-contouring schemes for many sports pitches.

One of her strengths is community consultation, finding consensus between Authorities and communities to problems and challenges. Hazel has extensive experience in consultation with local clubs and leagues.  Hazel is driven by a passion for her work and is motivated by finding solutions, turning negatives into positives.


Additional Key Associates
Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly is a consultant with over 20 years experience in the leisure and cultural industry. In 2000 Paul joined 4ps, local government’s project support agency, to focus on building a viable leisure and cultural PPP market. He also worked with DCMS to establish their PFI programme. Prior to this Paul worked for Sport England for 6 years, with Neil Allen and the naa team.

Paul is a key member of the naa team delivering ‘in-house’ options appraisal and financial solutions as part of the strategic commissioning process. Paul has worked with naa on a number of assignments including the feasibility into the establishment of a leisure Trust vehicle for Doncaster Council, the options appraisal for Stocksbridge Pool and the options appraisal for Bluebell Special School in Knowsley. Paul brings an extensive knowledge of the sector and experience across strategy, business planning, commissioning and procurement, and funding. He brings a wide perspective and in depth understanding to the issues and challenges facing the sector.

Rob Young

Rob Young is a senior consultant with over 10 year experience across the sport, leisure and major events sectors working on behalf of central and local government, Sport England, County Sport Partnerships and National Governing Bodies of Sport.

Rob has particular skills in strategic planning, programme and project management, and stakeholder engagement, which have been a key feature across all of his previous roles. Previously Rob was the London 2012 Nations and Regions Coordinator for the North West employed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and responsible for the region’s vision and plans to maximise the sporting, social and economic benefits from London 2012. In addition to understanding the challenges and opportunities to leveraging benefits from major events, this role provided great insight into facilitating partnerships between diverse groups of stakeholders with the ability to deliver multiple priorities through a common goal. Rob was awarded an MBE in the 2013 New Year’s Honours List for services to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Rob has worked closely with naa team members throughout his career and provides the sports development expertise to the team. He has recently led naa’s work in Leeds on updating the Council’s Sport and Physical Activity Strategy and developing the business plan for the ngb Place Pilot work.


naa also works with a range of other specialist planners, developers and financial experts to ensure clients benefit from the best advice in the marketplace.

This includes most notably:

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