Rooftop pitch is a hit at Sheffield city centre college - as council mulls £100m John Lewis football plan

The former John Lewis in Sheffield doesn’t have a football pitch on the roof yet - but some in the city already know the thrill of playing on one.

Monday, 29th November 2021, 7:55 am

A ‘global sports brand’ has put forward £100m plans to convert the Barker’s Pool building into a ‘home of football’ visitor attraction with museum, bars, restaurants - and rooftop astroturf.

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But even if owner Sheffield City Council agrees to the once-in-a-lifetime offer, it won’t be the first such facility in the city.

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Teenagers play football on the UTC rooftop pitch.

WHERE IS THE CITY’S ONLY ROOFTOP FOOTBALL PITCH?

For the UTC Sheffield City Centre on Shoreham Street has had one – believed to be the only one in the city – for years. And principal Alex Reynolds says it still gives them a thrill.

As a city centre school on a small site with no playing field, few on their first visit are expecting a sports pitch up top, he says. And they are stunned by the unexpected space and unrestricted views. Playing on it is even better.

Visitors are stunned by the unexpected space and unrestricted views.

He said: “It’s a great addition. People walk up the stairs and usually it’s a ‘wow’. At night under floodlights, with the city skyline as a backdrop, it’s breathtaking.”

The University Technical College has 500 students and specialises in engineering, creative, digital and media subjects. Students also do two hours-a-week of activities on the pitch including football, rounders, dodge ball and touch rugby. Netting stops anything the size of a tennis ball or larger so golf is banned, although table tennis is allowed.

Mr Reynolds added: “The former John Lewis is an iconic building in the middle of the Heart of the City 2 development. It would be great to see it brought back into use.”

The pitch is visible at the rear of the UTC above the Porter Brook.

WHAT ARE THE £100M ‘HOME OF FOOTBALL’ PLANS?

The Star revealed the home of football plans earlier this month. Many readers said the city council should seize the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone: huge investment and reuse of a giant building, during a difficult period for the city centre.

But politicians said the scheme would join other ideas in a public consultation.Council leader Terry Fox said there would be no decision until the new year.

Mark Cocken, vice principal, and principal Alex Reynolds at UTC Sheffield.

The authority bought the building from John Lewis last year. The shop closed in June, the council regains control of it early next year.

The next open day at UTC Sheffield City Centre is 5-7pm, Wednesday January 12.

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The UTC has 500 students and specialises in engineering, creative, digital and media subjects. Students also do two hours-a-week of activities on the pitch including football, rounders, dodge ball and touch rugby.
The University Technical College on Shoreham Street has had a rooftop pitch for years and principal Alex Reynolds says it still gives them a thrill.
A ‘global sports brand’ has put forward £100m plans to convert the former John Lewis into a ‘home of football’ with museum, bars, restaurants - and rooftop astroturf.