Controversial major development in Hillsborough Park in Sheffield can go ahead

A proposal to replace the tennis courts and the games area in a historic Sheffield park has been voted through.
The plans to replace the tennis courts and the multi-use games area (MUGA) in a popular Sheffield park has been given the go-ahead.The plans to replace the tennis courts and the multi-use games area (MUGA) in a popular Sheffield park has been given the go-ahead.
The plans to replace the tennis courts and the multi-use games area (MUGA) in a popular Sheffield park has been given the go-ahead.

At a planning and highways committee meeting, members discussed the plans for a new sports facility including a café and community space building, new mini-golf, padel tennis court facilities, outdoor activity space and other associated works in Hillsborough Park.

The plan is to replace the existing multi-use games area (MUGA) and tennis court in the southeastern corner of the park but concerns were raised over the consultation process, access for people with disabilities and the “commercialisation” of the park.

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A planning document stated: “It is understood that the MUGA will remain as a free-to-use facility, but that there will be a charge for the other facilities proposed.

“The proposed MUGA will be smaller than the existing and there will be a reduction of one tennis court, but this is offset by the introduction of the three new tennis courts, two new padel courts, new mini golf, a defined outdoor activity space and a community building and café.”

At the meeting, Leah Byatt from Save Our Parks told the members that the land in question in Hillsborough Park was supposed to be protected from sales or disposal as the park is a charitable trust park.

She also raised issues about the consultation process.

She said she worked for “Friends Together”, a disability support provider located just opposite the park but the group was left out of the consultation process.

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She said: “Despite we use the MUGA regularly for various sporting activities, we’ve not been approached once.”

Isobel Wells, the project manager of the proposed development, said she believed there was a need to improve facilities in this part of Sheffield and the proposed community hub “would do that”.

Cllr Mike Chaplin (Southey, Labour) said he wanted to know – after having heard from Ms Byatt about her concerns around access to people with disabilities – whether the development would be “disability friendly”.

He said: “So people can readily access all parts of the premises – both the sporting facilities and inside, the cafe.”

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From the planning service, Andrew Barton told Cllr Chaplin and the members that some of the points raised were subjected to control and building regulations rather than planning as far as the building is concerned.

He said it was going to be a single-storey building and added the site is in the flat part of the park.

Cllr Barbara Masters (Ecclesall, Liberal Democrats) raised an issue with the lack of changing facilities in the proposed building.

When she asked about toilets in the facility, Mr Barton confirmed the applicant’s intention for them to be freely accessible to members of the public.

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Members also had a lengthy discussion about the impact the development – especially the light coming from the facilities – would have on the wildlife in the park but they were given reassurances.

Officers received 30 letters of which 18 were objecting to the proposals.

One of the main issues was the reduction in the size of the free-to-use area with the possibility of “commercialisation” of the park.

Also, there was an objection to the introduction of an additional cafe.

The application, however, was approved unanimously.

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