Kick-off for £4m plan

footballram'Artist's impression of Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA's new �4 million centre at Westfield, planning application made nov 2011
footballram'Artist's impression of Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA's new �4 million centre at Westfield, planning application made nov 2011

PROPOSALS for a £4m sports and community ‘hub’ for the south-east of Sheffield have been moved a major step forward.

Sheffield & Hallamshire FA has been granted planning permission for the development on the site of the former Westfield School.

The Westfield Community Football Centre will have a full size artificial floodlit pitch, five-a-side pitches and up to eight grass pitches for football, rugby and American football.

There will also be a gym, jogging and cycle track, facilities for archery, a physiotherapy clinic, community multi-purpose meeting rooms, classrooms, a bar with cafe and changing rooms.

The complex will also become the home for Sheffield & Hallamshire, allowing it to centralise activities such as football governance and development, seminars, coaching, courses, tournaments, festivals, conferences and events.

Chief executive James Hope-Gill said: “Receiving planning permission is a significant step forward and we can now concentrate fully on raising the funding and capital needed to make the project a reality.”

Now that the go-ahead has been given by the council, fundraising can begin in earnest. Money is expected to come from grants from the FA, The Football Foundation, Sport England and the Rugby Football Union, plus capital raised by the county FA.

Naming rights and sponsorship opportunities are also being explored in order to secure all funding required to deliver the project.

The old Westfield site, which used to house the old school sports centre, has eight poorly-drained pitches with vandalised changing facilities, which are used by over 20 weekend football and rugby union teams.

It is hoped to start construction next year with a view to the centre opening in 2013.

Central to the scheme is the belief that sport can help promote community regeneration as well as healthy living.

The local FA has been working closely with the Westfield community, and identified issues to be addressed including rising obesity in young people, tackling anti-social behaviour and the fear of crime and improving educational standards.

Sheffield & Hallamshire FA provides a service to a football community of about 120,000 people each week.