Sheffield leisure venues review a 'fantastic opportunity' - says council leader
The leader of Sheffield Council said plans to invest £100 million and put leisure and entertainment facilities out to tender are a “fantastic opportunity” to deliver long-term improvements for the city.
Councillor Terry Fox, leader of the council, and fellow members of the co-operative executive are set to approve a more than £100 million programme of investment in facilities – including Sheffield Arena and City Hall – and decide how they will be run in a meeting next week.
He said: “Sheffield is renowned for sport, leisure and entertainment and our venues host many elite events and high-profile shows. We’re really proud of this but we know that many of our facilities are ageing and are in need of significant investment if Sheffield is to continue to compete on the national and international stage. The proposed plans present a fantastic opportunity to deliver long-term improvements to health and wellbeing and create an exciting future for leisure and entertainment in the city.
“It’s really important that our venues and facilities are modern, accessible and welcoming for all our communities, not just those who already take part in sport and leisure activities. We’re doing this for everyone in Sheffield so a big part of our work will include talking to all our communities about what they want, what barriers they face and what would encourage more people to get out and visit our facilities more often.
“There’s a lot of work still to be done but these plans provide a long-term vision that will protect and enhance our much-loved venues. I hope everyone can recognise that this is a really positive step we’re taking and will get involved in helping us shape these plans going forward.”
Officers said the most cost-effective way to run the facilities would be through an external partner chosen with a tender exercise after considering options including bringing them back in-house and managing them from within the council and establishing a local authority trading company to operate the services.
Work on the leisure strategy started in 2019 amid concern that Sheffield City Trust (SCT) – the current provider – was “haemorrhaging” taxpayers’ money.
A review needs to happen because the council’s arrangements with SCT – which has been operating major venues in the city since 1987 – are ending in 2024.
Which leisure centres will get investment?
Council officers said without investment, facilities will continue to decline and eventually close.
The investment, which will total more than £100 million, will be phased over a 30 year period.
Around £63 million of investment will tackle a maintenance backlog between now and 2028.
Facilities to be revamped are: Ponds Forge; the English Institute of Sport Sheffield (EISS); IceSheffield; Heeley Pool and Gym; Beauchief, Birley and Tinsley golf courses; Sheffield Arena and Sheffield City Hall.
The council is also going to rebuild Springs Leisure Centre, Hillsborough Leisure Centre and Concord Sports Centre, starting with Springs.
Coun Alison Teal, executive member for leisure, said: “The pandemic has resulted in huge pressures on our health and social care services, and we are all fully aware of the contribution green spaces, sport and leisure facilities can make to improve residents’ health and wellbeing.”