Feature: Up-and-coming area has ‘gem’ of a park and community feel

The Centre in the Park in Norfolk Heritage Park
The Centre in the Park in Norfolk Heritage Park
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A cash injection from Sheffield Council to improve park facilities is the latest investment to help Norfolk Park revive its fortunes.

The authority has pledged £80,000 to upgrade play facilities at Norfolk Heritage Park – the first of the city’s parks to benefit from a £1.5 million cash boost.

Maxine Hodder, deputy manager at Norfolk Park Day Care

Maxine Hodder, deputy manager at Norfolk Park Day Care

As well as improvements to the playground, the money will fund a new bridge and steps to improve access from homes being built nearby.

The investment is the latest in a long line which local MP Louise Haigh said has ‘changed the area beyond recognition’.

The Sheffield Heeley MP, who lives in Norfolk Park with her partner and two dogs, said she loves the area because of its community feel, closeness to the city centre and stunning scenery.

“I chose to live in Norfolk Park for many reasons – its great community feel, how close it is to the city centre and so many cracking pubs and not least the beautiful Norfolk Heritage Park,” she said.

Norfolk Heritage Park

Norfolk Heritage Park

“Every morning you’ll see me or my other half in there with our dogs, Harry and Lola; we’re so lucky to have it right on our doorstep, providing not only a place for joggers and dog walkers but football, bowls and many other activities.

“Over the last few years the area’s changed beyond recognition with so many new houses going up, investment in facilities and more on the horizon.”

But she still felt more needs to be done to improve the area further.

Louise added: “There’s still much more to do, not least cracking down on the littering and fly-tipping as well as some low-level anti-social behaviour but I love living in and representing this area that is so clearly on-the-up.”

Norfolk Heritage Park

Norfolk Heritage Park

Councillor for Park and Arbourthorne, Jack Scott, said the ‘hidden gem’ was now a ‘real up-and-coming area’.

“Norfolk Park is an amazing part of Sheffield. I’ve always thought it was a bit of a hidden gem, but now it’s getting a reputation as a real up-and-coming area,” he said.

“The recent news of a brand new playground in the Heritage Park is brilliant. I loved spending time there with my daughters when they were younger.

“There’s a really strong sense of community in the area. One of the best things about Norfolk Park is that it’s such a mix of different types of people, housing and backgrounds and is still so warm and welcoming to everyone.”

Sheffield Fayre at Norfolk Heritage Park 2016'Sunny weather blessed the fayre this year

Sheffield Fayre at Norfolk Heritage Park 2016'Sunny weather blessed the fayre this year

Norfolk Heritage Park provides a much-loved focal point in the area – popular with joggers, families and dog walkers.

As well as providing a stunning view across the city, the historic parkland is also home to the Centre in the Park – a purpose- built community facility which includes a cafe, Age UK Sheffield Wellbeing Centre and Norfolk Park Day Care.

Thousands of people also visit every year for the Sheffield Fayre – a popular, free, family event featuring a horticultural show, fairground rides and stalls.

Maxine Hodder, deputy manager at the nursery, said the youngsters benefit from learning in beautiful surroundings.

She said: “It’s such nice surroundings to work in and for the children to learn in. It’s so lovely and peaceful.

“The children can play out on the grass and we take them on nature trails and walks.

“The centre is also home to lots of other groups, such as Age UK, and we have started to do some mixed learning with them. The children did crafts with some dementia sufferers, which they really enjoyed.

“The children know everyone in the centre. We are like one big family.”

Maxine has lived in the area for many years and said she wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

She said: “It is so nice to live and work in the area. People see you and know you are from the nursery.

“It is such an up and coming area. It had a bad reputation many years ago, but it is on the up now. It is not a bad area.”

Maxine felt the area could be further improved by encouraging more businesses to open in the area, as many shops and pubs have closed down.

Friends Elizabeth Hauton and Valie Moyses both live minutes from the park and jog around it daily.

Elizabeth said: “We’ve been coming to the park since last June. It is so peaceful. You see the same people and everyone is so friendly and says hello.

“There is such a nice atmosphere and a pleasant feel to it.”

Grandmother Valie said despite the council pledging to upgrade playground facilities at the park, it still has some of the best she has seen in the city.

“It is a really good playground. We use it as a mini obstacle course to exercise on,” she said.

“If they are improving it then it would be nice if they installed some outdoor gym equipment for adults to use, like they have in Millhouses Park.”

Away from the park,the Real Junk Food Project Sheffield has opened the Steeple Corner Cafe, which has helped to put the ‘heartbeat back in the area,’ according to director Rene Meijer.

The cafe, based in the Victoria Centre on Stafford Road, operates on a pay-as-you-feel basis, meaning customers can offer money, time or skills in return for their meals.

It serves up surplus, excess and waste foods which would otherwise have gone to landfill.

Rene said: “We opened on a pilot basis in the middle of November and formally opened in January.

“Norfolk Park is one of the many initiatives we run across the city and we are looking to expand further.

“The reasons we wanted to work with the community centre at Norfolk Park was because we were looking for a place to revive, to serve the community and provide a cafe.

“They provided us with the space and we provided them with the beating heart of their community.”