New homes ‘yes’ to net sports centre extension

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News: Sheffield Telegraph online 24-hours a day.

Housebuilders could be given the go-ahead next week to develop the site of former Sheffield school – with a £1.1m spin-off to try to ensure a proposed extension to Graves Tennis and Leisure Centre gets off the ground.

A total of 52 houses are planned where the former Oakes Park School used to stand off Matthews Lane, Norton, and councillors will be advised by their officers to give Miller Homes the go-ahead next Tuesday.

One of the spin-offs would be that £1.16m from the sale of the council-owned land goes towards the £14m project to redevelop the nearby Graves Centre.

The sports complex is due to be extended, with two extra tennis courts, a new swimming pool, a new gym and fitness studios and a regional trampolining and gymnastics facility, to become a National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine.

Much of the money is coming from the Government as an Olympic legacy project, but the council has to make a contribution, now earmarked from the Oakes Park development.

A council report says: “Despite a substantial sum being invested in the project, including funding from the Department of Health, current funding gaps mean that the project cannot be delivered without a substantial council contribution.

“This project is in close proximity to the site and will result in considerable public benefit in particular by improving sports facilities in order to increase sport and leisure participation and improve health in the local and wider area.

“Being one of only three NCSEM developments in the country, the scheme is also of national significance.”

The report adds: “By choosing to use part of the receipt from the sale of this site, the council will ensure that there is sufficient funding for the project to go ahead, subject to planning permission being granted and deliver one of its key priorities.”

If planning permission is not granted, or the Graves project is not delivered for non-financial reasons, the authority “will commit the sum to an alternative project with similar public benefit”.

The council says the development of the site would normally requires a developer contribution of £2.2m towards affordable housing. It is being suggested that just over £1m is paid for affordable housing and the rest goes to Graves.

Other proposed conditions attached to approval for housing include £142,000 for extra school places and £83,000 improve local open space.

Some nearby residents are concerned about the traffic implications, saying Matthews Lane is very busy on school days and on Sundays because of football.

They say there is parking on both sides of Matthews Lane and Matthews Fold, and problems are made worse when there are events in Graves Park.

Council officers say there would be sufficient off street parking with the development. Some street parking would be lost, but there would be no major problems, they say.