Focus on Shirecliffe: ‘The countryside on people’s doorstep and views over city’

The Parkwood Lantern Parade makes its way around Parkwood Springs
The Parkwood Lantern Parade makes its way around Parkwood Springs
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Shirecliffe is on the up, and the restoration of the Parkwood Springs landfill site is key

Hopes to restore the former ski village site in Sheffield have long being on Sheffield Council’s agenda.

Watercliffe Meadow Primary pupils

Watercliffe Meadow Primary pupils

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.

Built in 1988 and costing £2.5 million, the ski village had 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 wants to develop it as a leisure facility. It is working with several investors to develop plans further.

But it seems the venue, 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.

I have never met a parent who didn’t want the best for their children

Plans to restore a landfill site and the opening of a new primary school and community centre have improved the area.

The ski village 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 landfill had been a problem for ‘many years’, but was slowly being transformed.

“For years one of Shirecliffe’s problems was the landfill site on Parkwood Springs.

Shirecliffe Community Centre on Shirecliffe Road

Shirecliffe Community Centre on Shirecliffe Road

“At its worst there were smells and flies, and many were concerned about the effect it might be having on their health.

“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 opening of Shirecliffe Community Centre in 2007

The opening of Shirecliffe Community Centre in 2007

“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.”

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

“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.

Access will 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 already enjoy Parkwood Springs. They can go for a quiet walk, a run, see the wildlife, or enjoy the excitement of the mountain bike trail.

Busk Meadows Park, in Shirecliffe

Busk Meadows Park, in Shirecliffe

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

The community centre has also been transformed.

Run by Shirecliffe Community Forum, the community-led project aims to provide access to activities and services previously unavailable.

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

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

“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 six people but now it includes a knit and natter group with about 15 regular members.”

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

The building is also home to air cadets, a karate club, a spiritual circle, various charities and community bingo.

Trustee Derek Brookes, a Shirecliffe resident for 66 years, said after the centre was revamped it struggled with footfall but more people were starting to use it 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 is great. We are close to town and have two lovely green areas - the park and Parkwood Springs.”

Education facilities for younger children have also been transformed.

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

Head Ian Read, said: “I came to Shirecliffe just over 10 years ago to work at Shirecliffe Junior School, a year prior to the opening of Watercliffe Meadow.

“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.

“I hope we have helped to add something really positive to the Shirecliffe community.”

Colin Early and Derek Brookes, trustees at Shirecliffe Community Centre

Colin Early and Derek Brookes, trustees at Shirecliffe Community Centre

The view over Sheffield from Parkwood Springs

The view over Sheffield from Parkwood Springs