New football hub for Sheffield is agreed

Sheffield Council Leisure Chief Paul Billington at the newly refurbished Woodbourn Road Stadium
Sheffield Council Leisure Chief Paul Billington at the newly refurbished Woodbourn Road Stadium
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Work on a new football hub in Sheffield will begin within weeks after plans were agreed by councillors today.

The proposals to build two floodlit 3G pitches on land at the rear of Graves Tennis and Leisure Centre off Bochum Parkway are the first phase of the scheme with the Football Association.

Sheffield Council and the FA are spending £9.6m on the project - the first of its kind in the country.

It aims to boost grassroots football, bringing more home-grown talent into the game at a national level, and also save the council money in the long-run.

This afternoon councillors in the planning meeting said that the hub would be a ‘tremendous asset’ for the city before they gave it unanimous approval.

Paul Billington, director of culture, sport and leisure, added: “As well as being a boost for those who play football, this new partnership with The FA is expected to increase participation and, in the longer term, provide a financial saving to the council as more play is concentrated on fewer pitches.

“We will be protecting football facilities from a potential downward spiral of declining quality and falling participation and instead looking to better pitches, more people playing and new income to invest.

“I look forward to seeing these new schemes coming through to fruition, and the next generation of young people growing up in a city with access to top-quality football pitches.”

The council is to spend £1m on the project, which is a national pilot.

A pavilion with changing rooms, club room and education space will also be built at the Graves site as part of the hub.

Changes to the plans have been made after residents raised concerns about noise and light pollution as well as drainage and flooding.

The FA will now go out to tender to seek an operator for the new pitches.

Separately, a new £16m leisure centre is currently under development on the Graves site and is set to open in summer 2016.