£7m plan unites health and sport

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PLANS for a new £7m sports centre and swimming pool in Sheffield will put health services under the same roof in order to encourage the less active to move more.

Sheffield Council, working with the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine and Ecclesfield Parish Council, plans to build the centre in High Green.

It would contain a swimming pool, community gym, dance studio and specialist health consultation rooms serving north Sheffield. The project will unite physical activity and health services under one roof for the first time in the city.

Its pool would replace the ageing Chapeltown Pool which will remain open until the new one opens, with staff able to transfer if they wish.

The plans have received the backing of Chapeltown Pool Trust, Ecclesfield Parish Council and the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine – which oversees the city’s £10m Olympic Legacy funding.

Councillor Isobel Bowler, cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Sheffield and especially for the people in the north of the city.

“This new facility is a key part of our vision for sport and leisure in Sheffield. As our facilities age we are renewing and replacing them with investment to bring down running costs and so make sure that we can afford them in future years.

“This will be a new district sports hub for the north of the city.

“The council’s investment enables us to bring in significant funding from outside the city and represents very good value for Sheffield.” 

The preferred location for the new facility is Thorncliffe Recreation Ground in High Green.

Today the city council is also announcing the development of a funding plan to improve the outdoor sports already based on the Thorncliffe site. Outdoor sports are likely to be run by a consortium of local sports clubs and the Council is working with the clubs to assists them in their planning.

The city council and parish council are expected to consult on the proposal with Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet making a final decision in February. Consultation on the outdoor sports development would follow in early Spring part of 2014.

Councillor John Housley from Ecclesfield Parish Council said: “I believe this is a once in lifetime opportunity to provide modern, state of the art, facilities which will improve the health and well-being of this and future generations of local people whilst also giving a welcome boost to the local economy.”

Initial costs are set at around £7m. It is anticipated that the city council will contribute around one third of the capital funds, with the rest from partner funding.

The city council would also meet the annual running costs of the new venue with the expected opening of the facility to be during the second half of 2015.

The new facility would serve a wide area including Ecclesfield, Chapeltown, High Green and Stocksbridge.

Council and health bosses hope the new centre will help promote exercise as a way of improving health.

Sir Andrew Cash, of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and chair of the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine in Sheffield, said: “One of the reasons why Sheffield was chosen as one of three National Centres for Sport and Exercise Medicine is because the city already has award-winning public health and voluntary sector programmes aimed at engaging 
at-risk communities and reducing health inequalities. I am delighted we are using this expertise to create a cultural change which encourages people to view an exercise prescription as a fundamental part of their health prevention and treatment.”

The new pool will replace Stocksbridge and Chapeltown pools and will cost around 20 per cent of their combined running costs.