Plans unveiled for redevelopment of Don Valley Stadium site

01 October 2014

A multimillion-pound research facility, a new ground for Sheffield Eagles and a 50-bed hotel are to be developed on the site of the former Don Valley Stadium, it has been announced.

The Olympic Legacy Park in Sheffield will feature a new Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) as its centerpiece. The facility will have indoor and outdoor facilities allowing the design, research, evaluation and implementation of products linking the medical, physical activity, leisure and sports sectors.

The AWRC model will mirror the highly successful Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (straddling the Sheffield-Rotherham border) which is part of the 150-acre Advanced Manufacturing Park where companies such as Boeing and Rolls Royce are located.

It will be home to about 50 researchers who will have fully instrumented indoor and outdoor laboratories capable of carrying out research on most physical activities. The facility will allow research on all sports but will be of particular benefit to those housed in the nearby English Institute of Sport.

The Olympic Legacy Park development will also involve Sheffield Eagles Rugby League Club moving into a new community stadium which will feature a synthetic pitch, a main stand seating 2,500, a 50 bed hotel, catering and hospitality areas and facilities developed in partnership with Sheffield second University Technical College (UTC).

A new sustainable multi-purpose indoor community arena will be the future home of the Sheffield Sharks.

The park – a joint venture between Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Sheffield City Council and the private sector – has attracted nearly £40m of investment from the private sector (for basketball, rugby and a hotel), a second University Technical College and a school. A further £10m is being sought from the Regional Growth Fund.

Both the park and the AWRC have the backing of the city's two universities, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield College, the local authority and the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce.

The Olympic Legacy Park project leader Richard Caborn said: "We are taking the city's heritage into a modern setting.

"This project has three clear objectives. We will deliver a multi-sports community stadium which can accommodate professional sports and will wash its face financially.

"Through the AWRC, we will bring academia, the medical profession and the full spread of physical activity across the City, from sedentary lifestyles to elite and professional athletes. In the words of Lord Coe, Sheffield will undertake world-class research and provide services that will deliver long-term, systematic change to benefit the health of the nation.

"Finally, we will deliver knowledge, intellectual property and practical development of products and services to the wealth creating sectors of health, wellbeing and sports sectors with the Sheffield City region."

Richard Wright, executive director of the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said: "The commercial opportunities around the whole wellness agenda and its associated technology are possibly one of the biggest opportunities Sheffield has seen for years.

"In many ways it is one of the legacies of our investment in sport in the region. The city now has over 100 sport/activity related businesses and by linking that expertise to health we can be one of the best cities in the world for improving the health of a population.

"The chamber cannot think of a more fitting use for the site of the Don Valley Stadium."