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Ambitious investment plans for Sheffield’s leisure and entertainment facilities

Ponds Forge International Leisure Centre

As part of ambitious plans for the future of Sheffield’s leisure and entertainment facilities, proposals have been approved by the council’s Cooperative Executive to progress a long-term plan for major improvements and investment, creating an exciting leisure offer that will also deliver on health and wellbeing outcomes for Sheffield and our residents.  

The aim is to improve the quality and accessibility of entertainment and leisure facilities and the customer experience, placing Sheffield at the front and centre of sport and leisure in the UK and contributing to the outcomes in Sheffield’s Move More plan.   

There is an opportunity for the council to make substantial investment in the facilities that are currently run by Sheffield City Trust. Some of the current arrangements with the Trust come to an end in 2024 and in response, the council has examined the ways in which the city’s leisure, entertainment and events facilities and services could be redeveloped to become as close to self-funding as possible through investment and service transformation, and how the facilities could be managed beyond 2024.  

The investment, which is estimated at more than £100m, will support significant improvements to the city’s leisure and entertainment facilities, including a complete rebuilding of Springs, Concord and Hillsborough Leisure Centres.  The proposal would also see investment into Sheffield Arena and Ponds Forge International Sports Centre ensuring the facilities continue to attract events of the highest quality for the people of Sheffield, South Yorkshire and beyond.  

Councillor Terry Fox, Leader of Sheffield City Council, 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.

"Driven by our commitment to putting Sheffield first, our plans present a fantastic opportunity to deliver long-term improvements to health and wellbeing, support the city’s carbon reduction commitments 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 our communities about what they want, what barriers they face and what would encourage more people to get out and visit our centres and venues 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 and a very exciting opportunity for leisure in the city, and that we’ll see lots of local people get involved and help us shape these plans going forward.” 

Cllr Alison Teal, Executive Member for Sustainable Neighbourhoods, Wellbeing, Parks and Leisure added:

“The pandemic has resulted in huge pressures on our health and social care services, and we are all fully aware of the contribution that leisure and green spaces can make in improving residents’ health and wellbeing. 

"To do that our facilities have to be fit for purpose, be places that people want to visit and enjoy when they are there. That’s what we’re trying to achieve here, and this long-term approach is crucial if we are to make a real impact on people’s lives now and into the future.” 

The work done so far has shown that the most effective and financially beneficial way to achieve our ambition is by working with an external partner to run the facilities on the council’s behalf. As well as approving investment into facilities and venues, the report outlines exploring the appointment of an external provider. 

Procurement and subsidy regulations mean that the Council cannot simply enter into a further agreement with Sheffield City Trust (SCT) when some of the current agreements come to an end. The proposal is in no way a reflection on SCT and the council will continue to work with the Trust to develop proposals as this work progresses. 

The report was approved by the Council’s Cooperative Executive during the meeting on 17 November. The report is available to read on the council’s website.