Olympic Legacy Park: Proposals to expand Sheffield sport and health site

A new agreement between the Olympic Legacy Park and Sheffield Council will unlock massive potential for inward investment and expansion of the city’s sport and health offer, a former cabinet minister has said.

Monday, 15th July 2019, 1:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th July 2019, 3:00 pm

Richard Caborn, former Government minister and Sheffield MP now project lead at the Olympic Legacy Park in Attercliffe, said the site had ‘reached a tipping point’ which will soon see an acceleration in expansion and investment.

Plans are in the pipeline to include swathes of land to fall under the OLP remit roughly stretching from Woodbourn Road to Broughton Lane.

Caborn - who touched on the opening of Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre in September - said talks were ongoing to bring major companies to Sheffield who operate in health and wellbeing technology.

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He said he wanted the AWRC in health and wellbeing technology to mirror what the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Waverley has done with engineering who attracted prestigious firms like Boeing and McLaren.

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 rugby league games and there are ambitions for a Child Health Technology Centre.

Construction for a 3,900 capacity stadium for Sheffield United Women is thought to start in ‘September or October’.

Sheffield United co-owner Kevin McCabe through his Scarborough Group International company are behind the project at a cost of £5 million.

The venue will also be used by the Sheffield Eagles as their base for home games.

“The discussions that is taking place is around what we do over the next period and the is a proposition that the Legacy Park Limited will now come under an agency agreement with Sheffield Council to take it from Woodbourn Road through to Broughton Lane for further development,” Caborn said.

“There’s something in that which gives us the responsibility to develop that over the next three to five years.

“So we’re now setting up under the best research and development places in the country on that site and we have a lot of private sector involvement - it’s something similar to what we’ve done at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) at Waverley so instead of Boeing and McLaren, we’re talking with big names in the health and technology sector.

“People know what the AMRC is and we want to replicate that for health and wellbeing getting some of these big names in that sector to Sheffield.

“I think we’ve gone past a tipping point at the Olympic Legacy Park - the private sector are looking to come in and now effectively we have an agreement where we basically become the council’s agent.”

As part of the arrangement, Sheffield Council is looking to agree to underwrite £150,000 per annum for three years from the council’s corporate investment fund to cover ‘underwriting risk in support of operations’ associated with SOLP.

But the council will work with Legacy Park Limited to move to a capped contribution of £80k by December.

The council already handed Legacy Park Limited £40,000 earlier this year after Sheffield Hallam University resigned from the board to solely focus on running the AWRC. The advanced payment is said to be similar to a bridging loan.

“I’m fairly confident from the money we will be getting in will more than cover this and we’ll be much more of an asset to the city going forward,” Caborn said.

“This is there more as a security aspect more than anything.

“The opening of the AWRC will act as a springboard for further development in that area and this with the council will act as the agency agreement which gives us the tools and the authority to get on to deliver the next part which is about 200 acres and this will start lifting the real economy of Attercliffe and the east end of Sheffield.”

Sheffield Council's cabinet committee will meet on Wednesday, July 17, to discuss the proposals.