Owls’ £7m community project for factory site

Sheffield Wednesday Community Programme development
Sheffield Wednesday Community Programme development

SHEFFIELD Wednesday this week unveiled plans for a £7m community complex off Penistone Road.

The club is aiming to combine indoor and outdoor pitches with classrooms, a kids’ zone, a healthcare centre and a pharmacy on the old Presto Tools land towards the city centre as part of a strategy to encourage education and social cohesion and to help confront anti-social behaviour and gang activity.

It is targeting completion by spring next year, with funding from external sources.

The project is being seen as offering a twin boost, to Wednesday’s involvement in the community and in the regeneration of a near barren industrial site.

Simon Torr, chairman of the Sheffield Wednesday Community Programme board of trustees and police chief superintendent, said “This facility will be a superb asset to Sheffield. It will help young people develop both socially and emotionally, aid vital communication skills and improve self-esteem, which in turn increases resilience, thus avoiding risks such as experimentation with drugs or involvement in crime.

“The primary aim centres on involvement in positive activities, leading to a reduction in anti-social behaviour and gang-related actions.

“In addition, the facility will provide alternative educational programmes designed to re-engage young people back into mainstream learning whilst maximising vocational opportunities.”

The community programme, the club’s charitable arm, has bought the 5.2-acre site from City Estates with a view to opening the facilities to public use as opposed to any elite use.

Sheffield-based Axis Architecture has been working with Wednesday.

Spokesman Andy Gee praised the “vision of a facility that we believe is without precedent in the UK” and the incorporation of low-energy features and renewable technologies.

One of the partners is Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice. Chief executive Sarah Champion said: “The facility will provide a meeting space for our parent and grandparent groups, a superb activity centre for the siblings and will give us a vital increased presence in the community we serve.”

A planning application has been submitted to the council, which will examine implications such as for traffic and neighbours.