The chief executive of the British Ski and Snowboard Federation has endorsed plans to create a northern centre of excellence for elite athletes built into the hills of a Yorkshire town.
Kirklees Stadium Development (KSDL) has received a letter of endorsement supporting the proposed new £7m snow centre, which sits at the centre of plans for the £70m HD One leisure development in Huddersfield.
The snow slope will use revolutionary SnowFlex technology developed by Huddersfield-based Briton Engineering, which has already exported its technology to the US, Finland, France and Turkey.
Gareth Davies, managing director of KSDL, which runs John Smith’s Stadium and is behind the project which will sit adjacent land, told The Yorkshire Post: “The federation wants it to be the northern centre of excellence. A lot of the new snow events are jump-based and some of the junior athletes winning medals are northern kids who need a regional centre to train in so they can reach the next level.”
Mr Davies stressed that the site would also provide for beginner and intermediate levels.
KSDL has created a joint venture with Briton Engineering to run the centre and earlier this week Kirklees Council approved a £4m loan in principle allowing KSDL to take majority stake in the snow centre.
KSDL will invest £4m and Briton £1m with the remaining £2m share likely to go to a private sector investor.
“We know all about running sport and leisure sites but something like skiing is very specialist and that’s where Briton’s knowledge comes in,” Mr Davies said. “This is the first time they have operated one of their slopes. They don’t have an ownership stake anywhere else, that’s not their usual business model.”
The 20-acre HD One development is gathering momentum as it moves towards the construction phase. KSDL hopes to secure the rest of the investment by the end of the year and start a two-year construction programme in mid-2017.
Marshall CDP, based in Elland, West Yorkshire has signed a pre-contract agreement to build the scheme, creating 700 new construction jobs. “We’ve deliberately gone with a significant regional player, not a national company that will bring in people from elsewhere,” said Mr Davies.
HD One will include 240,00 sq ft of leisure space, generating £4.5m of rent each year and more than £2m of ratable value for the council a year. It is expected to increase footfall from 1.5m to four million once it is complete.
The scheme will create more than 500 new jobs, not including construction jobs.
The main planning consent is in place but KSDL is currently waiting for permission to build a £13m Park Inn By Radisson hotel, which is subject to a separate application.
Letting agent Colliers International has already pre-let 75 per cent of the scheme. Tenants include Hollywood Bowl and Gravity Trampolining, as well as mid-market restaurants Zizzi, Nando’s, GBK, Five Guys and Frankie and Bennys.
Mr Davies said: “The market will tell you if you have a good scheme or not. We are in a good letting position.”