Regeneration of Spital Hill ‘long overdue’

Spital Hill Regeneration project
Spital Hill Regeneration project
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Welcome to Spital Hill – a community set to get the cash injection it needs to turn itself around.

Takeaways and restaurants with tired, rundown frontages line the street, while people carrying bulging supermarket shopping bags queue at the bus stop to get home.

They don’t tend to bother seeing what the other retailers in the area have to offer – and perhaps this has contributed to Spital Hill being named as one of the city’s worst performing shopping areas. “Spital Hill could be a thriving and successful district shopping centre,” said Coun Harry Harpham, the council’s spokesman for neighbourhoods.

“It has a strong community, a good range of shops and community facilities, and access to transport links – but it needs a helping hand to reach its full potential.”

There is a community here proud of its identity. People wave at friends driving by in their cars, residents stop to chat in the street and others give you a pat on the back or a friendly nudge in the arm if they’re walking past.

And what they seem to be desperate for is a cash boost to set up their local economy for a more prosperous future.

That’s why Sheffield Council has announced the Spital Hill Shop Front Scheme – a programme which plans to spruce up the frontages of businesses to create an attractive centre that people can be proud of.

The plans have been welcomed by most, who say the current situation cannot continue.

Before she steps on her bus, Natasha Bond says: “It’s horrible here. I only come for the Tesco. I don’t even like standing here at the bus stop – it’s scruffy.”

Further down the street, Osmus Hassan, aged 21, of Broomhall, adds: “It’s rubbish. We need it to be nicer for the community and there needs to be some stuff for the kids here. It needs improving.”

In the fish and chip shop, Tracy Crowe, 35, of Wincobank, says: “It’s a mess – it’s an absolute mess.

“I don’t shop here regularly – I’m just here for an appointment but trade can’t be very good.

“The funding would definitely encourage more people to come here, it’s been a mess for so many years now. It’s so rundown so I think it needs it.”

The council’s scheme is part of the wider regeneration of the Spital Hill area and is similar to the pilot Shop Front Improvement Scheme which was launched in Darnall last July.

The idea is to kick off improvements with the shop frontages revamp and then encourage local residents and businesses to get involved and invest in the community themselves.

Sister Yvonne Hayes, who runs the Rainbow’s End charity shop, hopes the scheme will spark the creation of a local traders’ forum or network.

“I do welcome it,” she says.

“It’s been like this for a long time – 20 odd years. There are a lot of good traders down here and people have stayed loyal to Burngreave through thick and thin but it does need sprucing up a bit.

“We need more variety of businesses because everything is a barber, a takeaway or a cafe. We have two veg shops which is fine but there’s a lot of cafes and takeaways which creates a lot of litter. A bit more variety would be nice for us.

“I would also like to see the traders getting together and working together a bit more – we need a traders’ forum or something like that.”

Jacqueline Cocker, of Burngreave, agrees with her: “I think there are too many takeaways. It’s takeaway central. They’re all higgledy piggledy together and it would be good to have some variety.”

But fellow shopper Alice Jackson, 24, of Burngreave, was more wary of the plans and suggested the funding would have been better spent keeping the Burngreave Children’s Centre open.

“The money could be spent going towards helping people on benefits as they’re cutting everything down,” she said.

“We are also losing the children’s centre. In the children’s centre there are midwives, health visitors, family support – they have shut the nursery down and I don’t agree with it.”