Feature: Sheffield's south side scores from Â£35m boost at new site
A whole raft of household names feature on the list of retail outlets set to open at new development.
Sheffield’s southern suburbs are undergoing a serious change, with millions of pounds being spent on projects from sports centres to retail parks.
Residents of Norton, Lowedges, Meadowhead and Batemoor are increasingly weighing up the pros of new facilities with the cons of more cars on the road.
The latest development to hit the headlines is the £35 million St James Retail Park off Bochum Parkway.
This week St James Securities, which bought the former site of Norton College and Graves swimming pool, announced M&S, Aldi, TK Maxx and Next would be among the big names coming to the area.
They will be joined by Costa, Mountain Warehouse, Greggs, Card Factory, Pets at Home, Shoe Zone and Wilko.
Next door is Graves Health and Sports Centre, which reopened in September after a £16m revamp.
It includes a six-lane 25m swimming pool, a separate learner pool, a major new fitness suite and studios, two additional indoor tennis courts and Sheffield’s first-ever dedicated gymnastics and trampolining centre.
And behind that is St George’s Park Sheffield Graves, a state-of-the-art football hub which is part of an FA project to develop local talent and support amateur teams in Sheffield.
James Fielding, a 64-year-old architect and designer from Dore, said: “I think it will be really great.
“I come here all the time to use the leisure centre and if that’s going to be right next door to the retail park, it’ll be good for everyone.”
Residents have raised concerns about the potential for more traffic at Meadowhead roundabout and the roads nearby.
New homes have already been built on the site of Oakes Park School off Matthews Lane in Norton, and developer Miller Homes is in talks with Sheffield Hallam University about the purchase of land behind Hemsworth Road and Derbyshire Lane nearby, with the intention of building more homes.
But that did not concerns Mr Fielding.
He said: “Every time I come here the traffic isn’t too bad.
The dual carriage way works well and I know they changed it a bit recently, so I don’t think there will be any problems.
“People love those kind of places so any potential problems with traffic will be offset by the benefits it will bring to the community.
“I know how these kinds of things work and that’s a mega amount of money they’re investing, so they’ll have teams ready to suggest ways to sort out traffic no matter what the council or the locals say, it will be okay.
The developer has promised to put money towards improving the nearby roads.
Alexandra Charlotte, 31, a nursery assistant from Woodseats, was more excited about the new shopping opportunities than concerned about traffic.
“I think it’s great,” she said.
“I don’t drive so I don’t really care about the traffic.
“My boyfriend always complains about there being nowhere to park at the leisure centre, so he could probably park there as well if they make it big enough.
“I don’t really like what they have at Woodseats, so when I heard about the retail park being built where the college is this morning I thought, I’d probably go there and visit M&S.”
Glynis Ebcblet, a 62-year-old from Jordanthorpe, was similarly pleased with what was planned.
“It’s really busy around here and the traffic can get bad, but really, I love M&S and Next so I think it’s great,” she said.
“It’s in walking distance of my house so I don’t need to worry about traffic, but yeah, if they do something about the traffic on the roundabout then it’ll be really good - really good.”
And Steve Gardener, 58 and from Jordanthorpe, said it would be ‘great’ for the area.
“We’ve got nothing round here,” he added.
“If you want to get anything you’ve got to go to Woodseats or Meadowhall on the other side of the city.
“It would be really good to get an M&S and a Next – it might bring a bit of class.”
Mr Gardener said the traffic would be ‘worth it’, despite the problems that could occur on ‘kamikaze roundabout’.
“If they put some traffic lights up that’ll be okay,” he said.
“They tried to build a Tesco round here once, but they got rejected because of the traffic, so I’m glad something even better is coming now.”
Anthony Butcher, a retired 74-year-old from Woodhouse, said the retail park and all the nearby development would save people going all the way to Meadowhall.
“I suppose it’ll create a bit of competition for Woodseats as well, and they’re probably not too happy about that,” he said.
“Woodseats isn’t like it used to be when I was an apprentice – it used to be much more busy.”
Mr Butcher did have concerns about the potential for traffic to get worse at Meadowhead roundabout.
“If they don’t redesign it properly it would get really bad,” he said. “It’s really hectic here in the mornings. It gets really busy, so they’ve got to do it properly – but overall it’s a good thing.”
Dave Rodgers, 31, a refrigerator engineer from Dronfield, said his first reaction was that traffic would be a ‘nightmare’.
He added: “I’m not that interested in shopping but when you think about it, it’s probably a good thing for the area.
“The retail park in Heeley isn’t that good so Chesterfield is probably the nearest option.
“I hope they think about the traffic though - the council or whoever – and redesign the roads a bit because, if they just put an entrance onto the dual carriage way it will be a complete nightmare.
“You’d never be able to turn right out of it.”
And Elliott Mills 26, a rail engineer from Meersbrook, also used the word ‘nightmare’,
“At my old job I had to go round that roundabout every morning and it would take half an hour sometimes to get round, so I hope they’ve thought about it before they start doing anything,” he said.
“But other than that, as long as they sort the traffic out, it can only be a good, thing.
“There’ll be loads of new jobs going for people and you can’t go wrong with that, can you?
“I’d probably shop there as well, so it sounds good to me – I’ll just get someone else to drive me there.”
A Sheffield Council spokesperson said: “We welcome the investment and redevelopment of these prominent sites at an important gateway into the city.”
* Community Focus on Norton and Meadowhead: See tomorrow’s Star