A £4m cutting edge scheme to deliver a new sporting and community hub for south east Sheffield has been submitted to city planners. The Sheffield and Hallamshire County Football Association (SHCFA) has exciting and far reaching plans for the development of a community football centre on the site of the former Westfield School.
The Westfield Community Football Centre will see the development of a sporting hub for the community, the engagement and regeneration through sport to build a better and healthier future for residents and the relocation of the Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA to the 28-acre site.
James Hope-Gill, SHCFA chief executive, said: “The creation of this community sporting hub will put sport at the heart of the community in South East Sheffield and use sport as a tool for community regeneration.
“Football has significant potential to be used as a catalyst to encourage physical activity and healthy living for all the community across a wide range of programmes, some of which won’t be directly related to football.”
Currently the site, which used to house the old school sports centre, offers eight poorly drained pitches with vandalised changing facilities used by just over 20 weekend football and rugby union teams.
The future vision through an organised development and community programme accessed seven days a week sees numerous 11-a-side, 9-a-side and 5-a-side weekly football matches, rugby union teams training and matches, jogging, cycling and archery clubs, as well as coach and education courses for 1,500 attendees.
Facilities proposed for the site include a full size third generation artificial floodlit pitch with stand, 5-a-side pitches, up to eight grass pitches for football and rugby, a Fitness Unlimited gym built and managed by Sheffield International Venues (SIV), jogging and cycle track, physiotherapy clinic, community multi-purpose meeting rooms and classrooms, social facility and changing rooms.
A new access route will be created via Moss Way as part of the plans.
The SHCFA has been working closely with the Westfield community including Mosborough Miners Welfare, who have managed the site for the past five years, through consultation and has highlighted key issues including rising obesity in young people, tackling anti-social behaviour and the fear of crime, improving educational standards, and the development of more cohesive communities as key drivers of the project.
James said: “The County FA has developed strong links with the local community in determining what their needs are and the exact activities and facilities required on site ensuring the community will regard the site as being for them, as well as ensuring the current teams playing on the site still have access.
“We believe our plans would contribute significantly to the delivery of local priorities outlined in the South East Area plans and the recently completed Playing Pitch Strategy.
“The facilities and programmes that will be developed by the County FA and other agencies will address local training, grassroots club development, active play for children, local recruitment, community activities and potentially GP referrals and other health initiatives in addition to expanding existing specific football initiatives.”
It is hoped the relocation of the County FA’s office to the site will allow its activities including seminars, coaching, courses, tournaments, festivals, conferences and events to be centralised helping to cut down on current expenditure on hiring facilities, as well has being the hub for providing the infrastructure for 120,000 grassroots participants in the region.
James added: “Sport is important to local people and brings fun, challenge and competition, as well as opportunities for social interaction as part of leisure activities.
“It is essential the site becomes the hub of the community not only for footballing activities but also by groups who are not involved in football, both young and old.
“Access to sports facilities or services that meet local needs positively influence the community’s perceptions of their local area, particularly for children and young people.”
Arnie Hattersley, from Mosborough Miners Welfare, said: “The vision for the centre is to provide a sport facility for the whole community and at the same time use sport to deliver wider social outcomes of inclusion, crime reduction, health improvement, educational attainment and civic pride for residents, utilising the power of sport to build a better future.
“We have been involved from the start as an important partner with the County FA’s plans and have provided valuable input into what local people need and want, as well as managing the site and ensuring teams can keep on playing while the project has been developed.”
Funding for the community project is expected to come from grants via The Football Association, The Football Foundation, Sport England and the Rugby Football Union plus some capital from the County FA. Naming rights and sponsorship opportunities will also be considered.
Steve Brailey, SIV chief executive, added: “SIV is delighted to work in partnership with the County FA in this important community project.”
Building would start in 2012 once funding and planning timescales are finalised, with a view to the site opening in 2013. FMG Consulting has been working with the County FA since the original feasibility study and continue to provide support and advice in working towards a successful outcome.