Sheffield Ski Village: How the iconic city venue fell from grace

Sheffield Ski Village pictured in 2005
Sheffield Ski Village pictured in 2005
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It once stood proudly on Sheffield’s skyline, seen from miles around and was the envy of other cities.

Sheffield Ski Village was ahead of its time – attracting more than 180,000 visitors a year while boasting to be the largest artificial ski resort in Europe.

Sheffield Ski Village now lies derelict

Sheffield Ski Village now lies derelict

The grand and daring vision to create such a facility was the idea of city entrepreneur John Fleetham in 1988 at the cost of £2.5 million.

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.

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 site, complete with gondola-style cable cars, an alpine-themed village and indoor slopes. The scheme never took off.

80m vision for Snow Mountain at Sheffield Ski Village which never took off

80m vision for Snow Mountain at Sheffield Ski Village which never took off

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

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

Mr Pullan applied to build 100 homes on the site in 2014 but the plans were rejected by Sheffield Council which said the ‘topography and character of the site would be adversely affected’.

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.

Sheffield Ski Village pictured in 2007

Sheffield Ski Village pictured in 2007

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 went 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.

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.

Ever since it has been plagued by fly tipping, vandalism and arson with the site falling 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.

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: More arson attacks

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

January 2015: Council unveils new masterplan for the Parkwood Springs site

2015: Two more arson attacks

December 2016: Council now has full control over the land and announces formal process to develop the site