A multi-million pound grassroots football project is moving forwards after planning permission was granted for new pitches this afternoon (Tuesday 16 June).

In what is the first scheme of its kind in the country, The FA is investing around £9.6m in a new wave of football hubs, with financial support from Sheffield City Council

Today, planning consent was granted for the second of Sheffield’s football hubs, which will be built alongside the new £7m North Active leisure centre at Thorncliffe recreation ground in High Green. The hubs will offer top-quality facilities with full community access at affordable prices.

Councillor Isobel Bowler, cabinet member for neighbourhoods at Sheffield City Council, said: “It’s great to see that a major milestone has been reached with planning permission granted for the second of these new football facilities, which will significantly improve the quality of the grassroots football provision here in Sheffield.

“As well as being a boost for those who already play football, this new partnership with The FA is expected to increase participation and, in the longer term, provide a financial saving to the council as more play is concentrated on fewer pitches. Income generated from the new football hubs will be reinvested in the sites and in other football pitches across the city.

“We will be protecting football facilities from a potential downward spiral of declining quality and falling participation and instead looking to better pitches, more people playing and new income to invest in facilities.

“I look forward to seeing these new schemes coming through to fruition, and the next generation of young people growing up in a city with access to top-quality football pitches.”

The first of the new football facilities, for which planning permission was granted in April, is currently under construction at the Graves tennis and leisure centre site, off Bochum Parkway, in the south of the city.

A new £16m leisure centre is currently under development on the site, adjacent to the existing tennis centre, and is set to open in summer 2016.

The Graves development, to be operated by Places for People Leisure, will include a six-lane 25m swimming pool, a separate learner pool, a major new fitness suite and studios, two additional indoor tennis courts and Sheffield’s first-ever dedicated gymnastics and trampolining centre.

It will also incorporate health and research facilities as part of the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM), bringing health and wellbeing services under one roof.

The footballing facilities will incorporate two state-of-the-art floodlit 3G artificial pitches and a pavilion with changing rooms, a club room and education space. Drainage improvements will also be made to one existing grass pitch on the site.

At North Active, meanwhile, the football facilities will incorporate two artificial grass pitches, two natural grass pitches, a single-storey changing pavilion and social facilities, and parking, with access from Pack Horse Lane.

Football is Sheffield’s biggest team sport with more than 800 teams, the majority of which are junior and youth teams.

The FA is proposing to set up a local charitable trust to oversee its investment programme. In some cases, the trust would take an operating interest in the new facilities and the resulting income would be reinvested in Sheffield’s football.

Later this year, the FA will go out to tender to seek an operator for the new pitches at both North Active and Graves. The exact number of hubs to be built across Sheffield is still to be confirmed.