WORK has started on a big extension to a Sheffield climbing centre after the go-ahead from the council.
The Climbing Works, at the corner of Little London Road and Woodseats Road, will have half as much space again for a section that will be used by children and adult beginners.
Now that the council has granted planning permission, it is hoped to complete the conversion of a neighbouring unit at Centenary Works over the next six to eight weeks.
The unit is currently occupied by a company, Eurosafe Solutions, which itself is moving to bigger premises within Centenary Works.
Climbing Walls managing director Sam Whittaker said: “We can’t wait to get in there to start building some great climbing walls.
“It is going to be a really nice open and light space. It is next to the river with a window three-quarters down the side.
“We will focus on young people and adult beginners, with lots of different angles and shapes in bright primary colours.”
The council gave approval after checking the implications for parking and nearby residents. Parking restrictions will be introduced near the entrance to Centenary Works. Business at the Climbing Works, which advertises the world’s biggest bouldering wall, has grown to attract 100,000 visitors a year. “We have been growing each year since we opened in December 2006,” said Sam.
Expansion comes at a time when the national chain, Awesome Walls, is preparing to open premises in Grimesthorpe and plans are being drawn up to convert the former Abbeydale Picture House into a climbing centre.
Climbing is a big growth area, said Sam. “A lot of people, especially students, come to Sheffield for the universities and the climbing and tend to stay here. It still seems to be the hub of climbing in the UK. London may have more climbers, but they are mainly indoors. In Sheffield, they climb outdoor and indoors. There’s a good mix.”
Eurosafe Solutions, which specialises in designing, manufacturing and installing roof top access and safety systems, is relocating to a unit that is double the current size.
Having started in a back bedroom in Abbeydale Road, it has grown to employ 40 full-time staff and is currently working on infrastructure schemes such as at Heathrow Terminal Two and Reading Station as well as overseas projects.
The company was started in 1999 to provide abseil access, with managing director Gavin Ellis and director John Boyle both keen climbers, all of which makes the company an ideal neighbour for the Climbing Works.
The seventh Climbing Works International Festival will be held on March 2 and 3, attracting 250 competitors and 400 spectators.
Members of the public can climb alongside competitors in the qualifiers on the Saturday, before the top 20 compete on the Sunday.