Shared Facilities

Good practice for creating shared use facilities
Develop integrated community facilities and shared use of sport and recreation facilities and spaces to enhance opportunities for sports participant, physical activity and enhancement of wellbeing and community interaction and cohesion.

  1. Co-locating district public open space with a high school allows for more economic use of facilities.
  2. Public transport servicing shared facility will ensure a more diverse range of users.
  3. Safe and convenient network of paths for pedestrians and cyclists will support healthy outcomes.
  4. Facilities designed with Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design philosophies will attract more visitors.

What do we mean by "shared facilities"?

The State Government of Victoria’s “Guide to Governing Shared Community Facilities” defines shared facilities as a physical asset that is: owned, funded or leased by government or the community; used by more than one group; used for a range of activities that share buildings, rooms or open spaces at the same time (concurrently) or at different times (sequentially). The activities supported by these shared facilities are wide ranging and can include neighbourhood houses, community hubs, youth groups, public meeting spaces, emergency services, community health and aged care services, libraries, schools and recreational facilities. [1] The basis of shared provision and use is to broaden access, maximise usage and rationalize costs in order to get the best possible value from the facility.

Demand on sport facilities and playing fields is an ongoing matter for government, sporting groups and the wider community. There are many high-quality sport and recreation facilities within school sites. These are often an ideal venue for facility sharing, which can provide benefits both to the school and the wider community user groups. Greater use of school facilities and playing fields out of school hour’s use (which suits most sport and recreation groups that generally want to use the facility during the evenings and weekends) is one potential solution to easing the pressure on local sports fields and facilities. This is also an important way to strengthen school and local community partnerships.

The focus around this feature has thus tended to be on sharing school sport and recreational facilities for shared community use out of school hours. In this sense, joint provision refers to an arrangement between two or more parties to co-operatively plan, design and in some cases manage a sport or recreation facility. [2]

Potential partners for shared use of sport and recreation facilities include:

  • Schools, colleges and universities 
  • Sport association headquarters
  • Senior citizen centres
  • Neighbourhood and community centres
  • Churches
  • Community and child health centres
  • Health and fitness clubs
  • Art and entertainment venues
  • Local government authority
  • The private sector

Shared use of community facilities may also relate to the shared use of school or community facilities for weekend farmers markets to assist in the sale and distribution of healthy, locally grown food.

Why are shared facilities important for physical activity and health? 

Integrated community facilities play a vital role in creating healthy communities, enhancing wellbeing, and building social networks. [1] Shared use of sport and recreation facilities helps to provide sport and recreation facilities and open spaces of sufficient size to accommodate sporting spaces and infrastructure. These are important places for regular physical activity, social interaction and the development of a sense of community [see also SENSE OF PLACE design feature]. It is also cost effective to provide social and community infrastructure through integrated facilities, shared use of facilities and multiple uses of space.  

There are many additional benefits to joint provision and shared use of sport and recreation facilities, including [1]:

  • Less duplication and maximum use of community facilities and services 
  • Reduced operating costs
  • Increased usage and revenue
  • Shared capital costs, services, resources and expertise 
  • Creation of a community hub—a focal point for community activity 
  • Improved relationships between community groups and organisations 
  • Increased community ownership of facilities
  • Access to a broader range of services and expertise – improving opportunities for participation in sports and active recreation programs
  • increased viability of clubs and facilities 


Summary of evidence

For a more detailed overview of the evidence supporting the benefits of shared facilities for physical activity and health click here

Schools are often centrally located within a community and have a variety of facilities and spaces, such as gymnasiums, playgrounds, sports fields and courts that, if available for community use outside of school hours, could provide opportunities for residents to be physically active, particularly in communities that lack public or private recreation facilities


An emerging body of evidence is illustrating those children and adolescents with access to existing school recreational facilities outside of regular school hours are more likely to be active


The use of school or community facility grounds or car parks for the establishment of farmers markets allows fresh food options to enter communities where healthy, affordable food choices may not previously have existed.


Farmers markets provide a community gathering place and a destination for the convergence of producers and buyers that fosters a sense of community


Individuals involved in community gardening have previously been reported to consume a more nutritious diet, consuming significantly more vegetables and fewer sweets compared with non-gardeners.


Other benefits of community gardens include improved physical fitness through engaging in physical activity associated with gardening, [31, 35, 36] improved social activity and social connections through the sharing of produce with neighbours and stress relief, relaxation and improved mental health.

[31, 35, 36]