Cabinet is set to approve a £3.5 million Council investment in the city’s sporting infrastructure, triggering an overall cash injection of up to £24 million for renewing and improving the city’s sports facilities.

This is the most significant leisure and sport capital investment programme in the city for decades and has the triple aims of improving facilities, improving health and reducing running costs. Councillor Isobel Bowler, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Leisure said:

“The Council investment is key to attracting external funds to secure these new facilities. For every pound the council invests, nearly seven pounds of external funds are secured. Not only that but the new centres at Graves and at High Green will require much less public subsidy than the facilities they replace.

With the addition of the National Centre for Health and Exercise Medicine facilities to the two new centres, these, together with the existing centre at Concorde, will focus on attracting new groups of people to become more physically active. Through NCSEM there will be a particular emphasis on supporting inactive people to become more active so that their physical and mental health will improve. By investing in higher quality facilities with lower ongoing maintenance costs we seek to widen participation in sport and exercise across our city.”

The Council investment includes £2.5 million for a new swimming and health facility for the north of the city in High Green, and £1 million in a renewed and extended Graves Tennis and Leisure Centre on its existing site for the south of the city, which will see new swimming pools, indoor tennis courts, gymnastics and fitness. The new facility in the north will replace the swimming pools at Stocksbridge and Chapeltown. The existing Chapeltown pool will continue to operate until the new facility opens in 2015.

The City Council faces its biggest ever challenge in terms of dramatically reducing budgets, including those for sports facilities. By contrast, there are significant new opportunities for external capital investment in facilities. The investment plan replaces facilities that are high cost, under-utilised or nearing the end of their life and invests in lower cost and higher qualities facilities which will increase participation and therefore improve health.

The strategy has been drawn up with two national partners, Sport England and the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM); the latter having received Olympic Legacy capital funding from the Department of Health. The strategy is also supported within the city by Sheffield City Trust and Ecclesfield Parish Council. All of these partners are potential funders of the strategy, alongside further potential funding at Graves from national governing bodies of sport.

In addition to the facilities at High Green and Graves, Woodbourn has also received a £300k investment and re-opened last October to provide first class track and field athletics facilities. A further £700k of Olympic Legacy funding will see the development of health consultation rooms at Concord Sports Centre – with patients offered integrated health and activity advice and programmes. Further Olympic Legacy funding will provide equipment, infrastructure and support costs in the above venues.