Emergency funding for partnership which runs Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park

Sheffield Council has dipped into its savings to give emergency funding of £40,000 to the partnership which runs the Olympic Legacy Park.

By Lucy Ashton
Thursday, 02 May, 2019, 10:08
Sheffield's Olympic Legacy Park. Picture: Chris Etchells

The council took the critical decision so Legacy Park Limited (LPL), which is delivering the Olympic Legacy Park, could avoid being wound up and continue to operate for three months.

It also buys some time to make permanent arrangements for resourcing and delivering the project.

Council Leader Julie Dore signed off the funding and has commissioned a full report on future funding and governance arrangements for LPL to be delivered within three months.

In a report, Eugene Walker, executive director of resources, says: “The Olympic Legacy Park project is helping to create a stronger, more inclusive economy for Sheffield and regenerate Attercliffe and surrounding areas.

“Retaining some form of vehicle to deliver it is considered critical, therefore emergency funding is required in order to avoid LPL being wound up, whilst three months of funding allows a full report on future arrangements to be produced.

“At this stage, the only alternative is to not provide emergency funding and allow the company to be wound up.”

The council and Sheffield Teaching Hospital are members of what is described as “special purpose vehicle” LPL. Sheffield Hallam University was formerly a member but recently resigned.

Mr Walker says LPL is designed to drive forward development of the Olympic Legacy Park. It is operated by a board of directors made up of appointees from Sheffield Council, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals plus former MP Richard Caborn.

The report continues: “Olympic Legacy Park is widely considered to be a success externally, helping to advance Sheffield’s profile in the health and wellbeing agenda and the chance to help spearhead wider regeneration in the Attercliffe area.

“To date, a new school and university technical college have been built on the site; Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre and Food Engineering Centre are under construction, agreement has been reached for a lease to build a stadium that will be the base for women’s football and there are ambitions for a Child Health Technology Centre.

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“A number of original plots remain but, given the success to date, attention has now turned to options to extend Olympic Legacy Park to a wider geographic footprint.”

The board will now produce a business and operational plan. LPL has all day to day responsibility for the Olympic Legacy Park, including site management, engagement with potential investors and development of business cases for new project ideas such as a new centre of innovation for child health technologies.

The report adds: “Sheffield Council had a contract with LPL to undertake the facilities management of the Olympic Legacy Park.

“LPL sub-contracted this service to Sheffield Hallam University and it was paid from the contributions members made to the company.

“It proposed to utilise £40,000 of council reserves to fund the request for emergency funding whilst a suitable future delivery strategy is developed.

“This funding source is unlikely to be suitable for a permanent long term budget for the LPL operations.

“It is essential that any new arrangements are properly considered to preserve the council’s ability to ensure that these grant conditions are not breached and, in the long term, it can recoup its investment.”

The council has invested over £3m and received £6m from Sheffield City Region and the European Union to develop the park.

The full report can be read here http://democracy.sheffield.gov.uk/documents/s34922/OLP%20Funding.pdf