Sheffield Ski Village: Plans to create 'world first' gravity park take step forward

The first steps are being taken to redevelop Sheffield Ski Village but it’s a long and winding road.

Sheffield Council has agreed to continue discussions with Skyline Luge about creating a “first in the world” Gravity Park with sledging and zip wires.

The international operator, who develops outdoor leisure destinations across the world including New Zealand, Canada, South Korea and Singapore, is interested in a land transaction.

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Extreme Leisure was due to spend £25 million redeveloping the Parkwood site after being signed up in 2017 but Sheffield Council terminated the agreement last August.

Sheffield Ski Village after a fire broke out on the site

It said Extreme failed to meet any key milestones or progress designs despite being given extensions to timescales.

Skyline was a potential partner with Extreme and had negotiated to lease part of the site for a zip line and luge – a small one or two person sled where people travel feet first.

There are two major problems with the site – access and contamination.

Council officer Tammy Whitaker told a meeting: “We reviewed options of how to move forward with the Ski Village and it identified many challenges, in particular poor access whether that’s on foot, connections to the city centre or by road.

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“There’s contamination and the remnants of the former Ski Village remain on site. One of the real issues we’ve got is that during the period that Extreme was subject to the agreement for lease they undertook very little investigation.

“That meant the council was unable to access or secure the funding from the Mayoral Combined Authority to address some of the challenges.”

The council tested the leisure market and found there is strong interest in developing the Ski Village.

But developers who showed an interest want public funding to deliver and potentially ongoing public sector support or risk sharing with the council.

Ms Whitaker added: “They would also want to take forward the development with an incremental approach and this would be potentially costly to the council and be time consuming to deliver.

“In the meantime, we’ve continued discussions with Skyline. They have undertaken considerable investment in bringing forward proposals for the site in the past and are still interested in developing a broader offer around the Gravity Park.

“It would be very much a family orientated experience catering for everyone from nought to 99, toddlers to grandparents, visitors and the local community.

“They still have concerns around access and site constraints but unlike the others they would be willing to take on the development and accept the operational risks.

“They have a good financial standing track record and we believe they would bring the site forward quicker. However, it’s clear a number of issues need to be addressed on the site and a key element is how better access can be secured by all means of transport.”

The council has already allocated £470,000 on design and feasibility works for the access road. A further £200,000 will be spent on site investigation and clearance work, plus transport, ecological and environmental assessments.