£4m sports project ends in financial defeat

A �4m cutting edge scheme to deliver a new sporting and community hub for south east Sheffield has been submitted to city planners. The Sheffield and Hallamshire County Football Association (SHCFA) has exciting and far reaching plans for the development of a community football centre on the site of the former Westfield School. Artist impression of the new centre.

A �4m cutting edge scheme to deliver a new sporting and community hub for south east Sheffield has been submitted to city planners. The Sheffield and Hallamshire County Football Association (SHCFA) has exciting and far reaching plans for the development of a community football centre on the site of the former Westfield School. Artist impression of the new centre.

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Hopes of improving sports and community facilities in the south east of Sheffield suffered a severe blow with the announcement of the collapse of a £4m development on the site of the former Westfield School.

The Westfield Football Community Centre was designed to be a community hub including upgraded grass and artificial pitches and a gymnasium and offering a place to help keep young people off the streets, keeping them fit and active at the same time.

But Sheffield and Hallamshire County Football Association, which was due to relocate its headquarters from Kelham Island, said this week it could no longer afford to invest around £1.3m - three-quarters from borrowing - because of spiralling costs and a cut in potential funding for the project.

It feared its running of local football could have been jeopardised by maintaining the commitment.

Substantial grants were expected to come from Sport England and the Football Foundation, and the council will now try to ensure the money still comes to the city.

It will look at ways of improving the existing eight poorly-drained pitches at Westfield, which are run by Mosborough Miners’ Welfare, and are used by football and rugby teams, and see whether changing accommodation can be provided.

A statement from the local FA said: “After careful consideration, the board of directors of Sheffield and Hallamshire County Football Association regret to announce that they will not be continuing their interest in the proposed development of the former Westfield School site in Mosborough due to the financial implications

“Whilst the board regret any impact that their decision might have in relation to the local community in south east Sheffield, they wish to confirm that it would not make any financial sense for the County FA to invest around £1.3m - including a substantial amount of borrowed money - in today’s economic climate.”

The statement added: “This decision has not been taken lightly, but the significant rise in costs from the original budget has moved the goalposts substantially and taken the Westfield project beyond the reach of the FA.”

Local teams were looking forward to much better facilities.

Lee Newton, an under-16 coach for Beighton Magpies FC, said: “It is gutting that it’s not going to go ahead. I thought the plans were really impressive.”

The council owns the land and was supporting the proposed development, short of putting in any funds.

A spokesman said: “We were disappointed to hear the FA has withdrawn. The council will now review future options for the site.”