Focus on Shirecliffe: An area being transformed for the better

The view over Sheffield from Parkwood Springs
The view over Sheffield from Parkwood Springs
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Hopes to restore the former ski village site in Sheffield have long being on Sheffield Council's agenda.

Council chiefs want the area to be developed as a leisure facility as part of the drive to cement Sheffield's reputation as the Outdoor City.

The annual lantern festival at Parkwood Springs

The annual lantern festival at Parkwood Springs

Built in 1988 for £2.5 million, it had ski slopes, a ski shop, bar, restaurant, bowling alley, quad biking and laser tag.

The site has been a regular target for vandals and arsonists since it closed in 2012 and the council want to develop it as a leisure facility and is working with several investors to develop plans further.

But it seems that the site, once home to Europe's largest artificial ski resort which attracted 180,000 visitors a year, isn't the only facility being transformed in Shirecliffe.

Plans to restore a landfill site and the opening of a new primary school and community centre have helped it to become a more attractive area.

Shirecliffe Community Centre

Shirecliffe Community Centre

The ski village site is part of the wider Parkwood Springs area, which is described as 'an important green space' for Shirecliffe residents.

Neill Schofield, chairman of The Friends of Parkwood Springs, said the area's landfill site had been a problem for many years, but is slowly being transformed.

He said: "For years one of Shirecliffe’s problems was the landfill site on Parkwood Springs.

"At its worst there were smells and flies, and for many people concern about the effect it might be having on their health.

Busk Meadows Park, in Shirecliffe

Busk Meadows Park, in Shirecliffe

"But now the site is slowly changing to become an attractive place that will make Shirecliffe better.

"Tipping of domestic rubbish on the landfill stopped about two years ago.

"Since then the operators, Viridor, have been sealing off the tipped rubbish, and starting to restore the land.

"The Friends of Parkwood Springs see the closed landfill site as very important. It sits in the middle of Parkwood Springs, which is an important green space for people who live in Shirecliffe. It is countryside on people’s doorstep, with wonderful views over the city."

Colin Early and Derek Brookes, trustees at Shirecliffe Community Centre

Colin Early and Derek Brookes, trustees at Shirecliffe Community Centre

Restoration plans, approved by the council in September, include varied planing of indigenous species, and wetland areas which will be good for birds and other wildlife.

"However we are still pressing for public access to as much of the site as possible as soon as it is safe," said Neill, who helps to organise the annual lantern festival on Parkwood Springs.

" Access will probably start in about two years, with the opening up of a new path running from Neepsend up to Shirecliffe.

"People from all over the city can already enjoy Parkwood Springs. They can go there for a quiet walk, for a run, to see the wildlife, or to enjoy the excitement of the mountain bike trail.

"We hope fairly soon to see the old ski village site re-developed. Then when there is access to the restored landfill site it will be even better."

The community centre is another area which has been transformed for the benefit of local residents.

Run by Shirecliffe Community Forum, a charitable company, the community-led project which aims to provide access to a wide range of activities and services previously unavailable in the area.

The newly refurbished and extended building was officially opened in April 2007.

Centre manager Lynne Norman said: "We try and do things which the community wants.

"For example, the art group was set up when a gentleman came in off the street to say he wanted to start one up. For about 12 months it ran with about six people but now is includes a knit and natter group that has about 12 to 15 people regularly coming.

"They watch out for each other. When the gentleman who helped set up the group was poorly they all rallied around to find out if he was ok."

City Church uses the centre as its Sheffield north base for its cooking group Grub Club, mini kids group, food bank, debt advice service and Sunday service.

The building is also home to many other groups including the Air Cadets, a karate club, a spiritual circle and a popular community bingo. Various charities and organisations also hold sessions and training there.

Community centre trustee Derek Brookes, who has lived in Shirecliffe for 66 years, said that after the centre was revamped it struggled with footfall at first, but more people are starting to use it now.

""A lot of people are popping in now. A lot of people in Shirecliffe have only just found out where we are," he said.

Fellow trustee and Shirecliffe resident, Colin Early, added: "There is a great community spirit in Shirecliffe.

"Strangely enough there is a bit of a division between people who live at the top of the hill and those at the bottom. It's like two little villages.

"The location of Shirecliffe is great. We are close to town and have two lovely green areas - the park and Parkwood Springs."

Education facilities for the area's younger children have also been transformed in recent years.

Watercliffe Meadow Primary opened in 2008 and replaced Shirecliffe Juniors, as well as Watermead Nursery Infants and Busk Meadow Nursery Infant schools.

Headteacher Ian Read, said the new school helped to add 'something really positive' to the area.

"I came to Shirecliffe just over 10 years ago to work at Shirecliffe Junior School, a year prior to the opening of Watercliffe Meadow," he said.

"At that time it seemed like an overlooked part of the city but from the very start I loved the people.

"The children were 'sparky' and appreciative of what we were doing and I have never met a parent in all the time I've worked here who didn't want the best for their child.

"We had the excitement of moving into a new school and I hope that since it's opening in 2008 we have helped to add something really positive to the Shirecliffe community.

"I often wondered in those first couple of years if the appreciation of a new building and an exciting curriculum would wear off over time but it never has.

"Our children and families are just as appreciative as they were 10 years ago.

"I feel very proud to work in Shirecliffe and I sincerely hope over the next 10 years we can add even more to support the children and families of Shirecliffe."