Plotting the rise, fall and big ideas of Sheffield Ski Village

Sheffield Ski Village in its current state. Picture by Tom Maddick
Sheffield Ski Village in its current state. Picture by Tom Maddick
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It stood proudly on the skyline of Sheffield for more than 20 years... Sheffield Ski Village was once the largest artificial ski resort in Europe, attracting more than 180,000 visitors a year.

In its prime the facility was streets ahead of its time, opening long before indoor UK skiing facilities with real snow.

See Ross Parry copy RPYSKI'Picture shows Sheffield Ski Village in its current state.  Half of Team GB's freestyle skiers at the 2014 Winter Olympics, which is taking place in Sochi, Russia, learned their tricks at Sheffield Ski Village.  James Woods, 21, James Machon, 23, and Katie Summerhayes, 18, all trained at Sheffield Ski Village and they make up half of Team GB's Freestyle Skiing team. Now it has gone, there is a question mark over where South Yorkshire's next generation of Olympians will come from.''rossparry.co.uk / Tom Maddick

See Ross Parry copy RPYSKI'Picture shows Sheffield Ski Village in its current state. Half of Team GB's freestyle skiers at the 2014 Winter Olympics, which is taking place in Sochi, Russia, learned their tricks at Sheffield Ski Village. James Woods, 21, James Machon, 23, and Katie Summerhayes, 18, all trained at Sheffield Ski Village and they make up half of Team GB's Freestyle Skiing team. Now it has gone, there is a question mark over where South Yorkshire's next generation of Olympians will come from.''rossparry.co.uk / Tom Maddick

The centre opened in 1988 but in 2000 and 2003 Xscape opened slopes with real snow in Milton Keynes and Castleford, taking customers away from Sheffield and leaving the business to falter.

Numerous attempts to update the facilities and attract new visitors failed to draw the numbers, development plans stalled due to financial uncertainty, the business changed hands and then in April 2012 a huge fire at the site left it in ruins.

READ MORE:

Plans to transform Sheffield Ski Village into leisure hub

See Ross Parry copy RPYSKI'Picture shows Sheffield Ski Village in its current state.  Half of Team GB's freestyle skiers at the 2014 Winter Olympics, which is taking place in Sochi, Russia, learned their tricks at Sheffield Ski Village.  James Woods, 21, James Machon, 23, and Katie Summerhayes, 18, all trained at Sheffield Ski Village and they make up half of Team GB's Freestyle Skiing team. Now it has gone, there is a question mark over where South Yorkshire's next generation of Olympians will come from.''rossparry.co.uk / Tom Maddick

See Ross Parry copy RPYSKI'Picture shows Sheffield Ski Village in its current state. Half of Team GB's freestyle skiers at the 2014 Winter Olympics, which is taking place in Sochi, Russia, learned their tricks at Sheffield Ski Village. James Woods, 21, James Machon, 23, and Katie Summerhayes, 18, all trained at Sheffield Ski Village and they make up half of Team GB's Freestyle Skiing team. Now it has gone, there is a question mark over where South Yorkshire's next generation of Olympians will come from.''rossparry.co.uk / Tom Maddick

Ever since it has been plagued by fly tipping, vandalism and arson and has fallen into rack and ruin.

The ski village, based on the Parkwood Springs site, sits in the south of the area which Sheffield Council wants to redevelop into an outdoor leisure hub.

The landfill is in the middle of the site, and in the north, towards Herries Road, are woods and grasslands.

The land on which the ski village sits is currently owned by businessman Kevin Pullan.

Sheffield Ski Village

Sheffield Ski Village

He applied to build 100 homes on the site last year but the plans were rejected by Sheffield Council which said the topography and character of the site would be ‘adversely affected’.

An appeal was lodged and the decision was referred to the Secretary of State in December 2014 so a government planning inspector could hear the case.

Sheffield Ski Village was created by city entrepreneur John Fleetham in 1988 and cost £2.5million to build.

He created a range of artificial ski slopes along with a ski shop, bar and restaurant complete with ten pin bowling alley, quad biking and laser tag.

The ski village was also home to the Sheffield Sharks Ski Club, set up in 1990 to promote children’s skiing, both at recreational and competitive levels. In 2004, the club became the CCPR UK Sports Club of the Year.

It was run on a voluntary basis by an elected committee of parents and had a dedicated team of instructors.

Many of the club’s members have gone on to achieve Olympic success. They included James ‘Woodsy’ Woods, a freestyle skier who came fifth in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and Katie Summerhayes who finished seventh in the Women’s Ski Slopestyle category at the same games.

Other significant athletes who trained at Sheffield Ski Village include mogul expert Ellie Koyander and free skier Paddy Graham.

In 2003, however, the firm ran into financial difficulties and the site was put up for sale for £1. A year later the firm went into administration before being bought by Mr Pullan in 2007.

It is not the first time plans have been put forward to turn the site into an adventure sports hub.

In 1999 Mr Fleetham put forward a vision for his Snow Mountain project – a £46m development of the Ski Village site, complete with gondola-style cable cars, an alpine-themed village and indoor slopes.

At the time he said: “This project will be a major breakthrough for Sheffield and the regeneration of the Upper Don Valley. Six hundred jobs will be created and the entire area will be improved. We will be creating a major tourist destination.

“Can you imagine how good it will look, as people drive into the city along the A61 and see a cable car sailing over the top of them? It’s just got to happen.”

The scheme was supported in principle by Sheffield Council and by business leaders in the city but stalled after the council rejected a plan by development partner Menta Regeneration to build 550 new homes on the site of the former UCAR factory at Beeley Wood, which was an integral part of the scheme.

In 2013 World Champion Mountain biker Steve Peat opened up a 2km downhill mountain bike track at the site with a vision of creating Britain’s first urban downhill mountain biking centre.

A campaign group, Snowsport 4 Sheffield, was set up last year and wants to restore the ski slope to its former glory.

KEY MOMENTS:

1988 Sheffield Ski Village opens

1999 Snow Mountain project first mooted

2000 Xscape opens in Milton Keynes

2003 Xscape Castleford opens

2003 Site put up for sale for £1

2004 Firm into administration

2007 Bought by Kevin Pullan

2012 Fire at ski village

2012 Further fires on site

2013 Further arson attacks

2013 Steve Peat opens his downhill mountain biking trails

2014 Kevin Pullan’s plan to put housing on the site is rejected

2015 Council unveils new masterplan for the Parkwood Springs site