SHEFFIELD Wednesday have another crucial fixture in the next few days – a council meeting on the future of a £7m multi-use community centre.
And it looks as though the Owls have come up with a winner for the site of the old Presto Tools factory, further along Penistone Road from the stadium, even though it breaches council guidelines.
Councillors will be recommended on Tuesday to give the go-ahead for the proposed development which includes full-size indoor and outdoor sports pitches, changing rooms, a gym, classrooms, a health care centre, pharmacy, dance studio, a children’s play zone, a shop for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospital and a call centre for City Taxis.
Town hall officers say the land is designated for business and industrial use to encourage job creation but they accept that the policy is outweighed on this occasion by the range of community benefits.
The police-backed scheme, to be financed from external sources, is part of Wednesday’s community programme and aims to encourage young people across the region, including those in disadvantaged areas, to get involved in activities that improve their education, health and job prospects and to steer clear of anti-social behaviour, crime and drugs. 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.
Two buildings are earmarked for the former Presto Tools land and 113 car parking spaces are planned. The outdoor pitch would be floodlit and could be split into three.
A council report says a development for non-employment uses is not in line with the latest guidelines but there are “sufficient benefits” from the community facilities that “outweigh the policy objection”.
No problems are envisaged with either traffic or flooding, even though the location is next to the River Don.
One comment has come from Associated Chemists in the Wicker that a pharmacy is not needed because there are already pharmacies at the Boots in Hillsborough, the new Boots at the Kilner Way retail park in Wadsley Bridge, the Tesco in Infirmary Road, and in Dykes Hall Road.
But council officers say that it would only be a small pharmacy, linked to the health centre.