Sheffield sets its sights on major outdoor activity centre as hub of The Outdoor City

Sheffield sets its sights on major outdoor activity centre as hub of The Outdoor City

09 December 2016

Plans to create an outdoor adventure experience that will be the ‘jewel in the crown’ of The Outdoor City are being announced today (Friday 9 December).

Sheffield City Council wants to attract a developer to transform a site at Parkwood Springs into a nationally-significant attraction which will cement Sheffield’s reputation as The Outdoor City – the UK’s leading destination for people seeking outdoor adventure, city culture and rural escapes.

In a well-connected part of North-West Sheffield, just one mile from the city centre and close to the flourishing real ale scene at Kelham Island, there is potential to bring thousands more visitors into the city, as well as galvanizing the regeneration of the wider area.

An initial study indicates this is a viable commercial opportunity, and the Council is now aiming to test the market by asking investors and developers to put forward ideas for the wider Parkwood Springs area that will transform it into an urban country park of regional and national importance.

A mountain biking trail centre, urban bike park or national snow sports centre could be on the cards, or a combination of different adventure activities, depending on market interest.

The former ski village site sits within the wider open space of Parkwood Springs, which has seen major improvements over recent years, thanks to work between the Council, the Friends of Parkwood Springs group and other partners.

New mountain bike trails and a dual slalom now attract around 10,000 visits a year – but there is potential for much more.

Councillor Leigh Bramall, deputy leader of Sheffield City Council and cabinet member for business and economy, said: “This is a significant step forward for the former ski village site, which closed in 2012 after 24 years being privately operated.

“We now have control of the site and have real confidence that Parkwood can be the jewel in the crown of The Outdoor City. But we need to check that the right investor and developer exists to do this, as it’s not within the Council’s means.

“Sheffield has higher than average participation rates across various outdoor activities and an annual £93m spend on outdoor trips and equipment. Equally, there are not many sites, in the middle of a city like this.

“This shows we’re offering somebody the perfect opportunity to create a world-leading urban, outdoor attraction which embodies Sheffield’s standing as The Outdoor City.”

The proposed development site, which contains the entire former ski village as well as some land that can be developed for associated business use, borders the popular urban oasis of Kelham Island – centre of Sheffield’s real ale scene – and serves the nearby communities of Pitsmoor, Firshill and Shirecliffe.

The final detailed development proposals will be determined when the council appoints a preferred bidder for the site.

Neill Schofield, chair of the Friends of Parkwood Springs, said: “Lots of people from Sheffield and beyond really enjoyed the old Sheffield Ski Village. What we’d like to see now is the site being used again for people to enjoy, as part of our country park in the city.”

The Council is seeking expressions of interest by 12noon on Friday 7 April 2017 and will then invite a preferred bidder to purchase a long lease with the intention of developing, financing and operating Parkwood.

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