£40m Olympic legacy vision ‘on track’

Former sports minister and Sheffield Labour MP Richard Caborn  Pic: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire
Former sports minister and Sheffield Labour MP Richard Caborn Pic: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

Former Sheffield MP and Sports Minister Richard Caborn is stepping up pressure for an Olympic Legacy Park on the site of Don Valley Stadium.

He has asked to meet Seb Coe and the Olympic Legacy Cabinet Committee to update them on a proposed development for “sport, health sciences and well-being”.

Don Valley community stadium

Don Valley community stadium

Mr Caborn believes the project, including a multi-sports community stadium, can be realised. Contrasting the situation with London’s Olympic stadium, he said: “Sheffield is at the forefront of delivering the legacy of the Olympics.”

With the stadium land now being cleared, he believes pieces in a £40m jigsaw are starting to fall into place with the support of the city’s universities, college, hospitals, council, sports bodies and the private sector. No council money is earmarked for the proposed complex, he said.

Already Sheffield has been given £10m by the Government for Olympic legacy developments at Graves and Concord along with a new swimming pool at High Green.

An administrative headquarters for the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine is part of the Don Valley project, which Mr Caborn sees as complementing iceSheffield, the English Institute of Sport and Woodbourn Road athletics stadium, now under the wing of Hallam University, which has upgraded its Bawtry Road sports park.

The vision aims to harness local expertise in engineering, medicine and education, notably at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre at Catcliffe, for the benefit of elite athletes and to regenerate the Lower Don Valley.

It could also help restore Sheffield’s reputation as a City of Sport, which was dented amid the controversy of the demolition of the stadium.

Some elements have already been secured, although there is still a long way to go. Work starts in the autumn on a nursery, primary and secondary schools for 1,222 pupils, which are being designed as part of the community stadium.

Funding has been secured for a floodlit state-of-the-art artificial pitch which would be used by students of a University Technical College, also linking into the stadium.

One bid for a UTC specialising in sport and health was rejected by the Government. Another, led by Sheffield College, will be made next month. It is also intended that the stadium will be used for basketball, rugby union and rugby league.The strategy extends to Hallam University relocating part of its Centre for Sports Engineering to Don Valley.