Parkwood Springs: “We want people from here to say they are from Parkwood Springs with a spring in their step.”

Executive principal Kim Walton
Executive principal Kim Walton

A new draft masterplan unveiling the vision for Parkwood Springs over the next 10 years has got residents and visitors to the area excited for what the future may hold.

Sheffield Council has set out ambitions for the site, which includes Wardsend Cemetery and the former Viridor Landfill site, to become a 150-hectare giant urban country park stretching from Wardsend, near Hillsborough all the way to Neepsend.

It will wrap around a £35 million scheme to transform the former ski village, which closed after a major blaze in 2012, into a sports, leisure and entertainment complex including an area for skiing, snowboarding and sledding.

The masterplan outlines a vision for the whole of Parkwood Springs to align the ambitions of the local communities; plans for outdoor leisure development; the complicated history of the landfill site; and the needs of a growing city particularly at nearby Kelham Island, Neepsend and Woodside where new homes are being developed or are being planned for.

Chair of the Friends of Parkwood Springs, Neill Schofield, said the document, which is being consulted on, was long awaited and is extremely important to the area.

He is especially pleased to see plans for the northern end of the site, near Penrith Road and Longley Avenue West, because so much has happened, or is happening, at the Rutland Road end.

“We have been working towards this and I think this in an area that people living around it can be proud of,” he said.

“We are attracting people from all over the city.

“All the schools across in Sheffield have their cross country races taking place there. People come from schools all over the city.

“It’s really nice to talk to the parents of these children and many say they didn’t know there was an area here as nice as this.”

He added: “We think that if we carry on improving the direction of the vision, then the area will be something that local people can be really proud of.

“We want people from here to say they are from Parkwood Springs with a spring in their step.

“People can be really proud of where they live. 

“They don’t have to go across the city to Ecclesall Woods to find something special – they only have to travel to a few yards to find something spectacular with spectacular views.”

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Mr Schofield, who lives nearby the site, said creating footpaths over the former landfill site was extremely important in connecting both sides of the site – and he was keen to see it in the final masterplan.

“The landfill site which has been closed for some while and the restoration of it is getting quite well advanced,” he said.

“There has been a lot of discussions between ourselves and the community on the footpaths and that is really important.

“It is the landfill that has been the blockage between the southern and northern ends of the site.

“There has been a narrow path, but not in good condition, but the sites have been completely split by the landfill site.”

Peter Bull, of Walkley, started visiting the area six years ago when he took part in an RSPB dawn chorus walk and said it is growing in popularity.

He said: “Although we can see the area, and the ski village, from where we live we hadn’t really been before and see what Parkwood Springs has to offer until we went on the dawn chorus walk.

“It was an interesting walk but also to see the place, its views and wildlife right in the middle of Sheffield, was quite special.

“From a locals point of view lots of people don’t know about it, although there has been an increase in local people using the area.

“I regularly see the same people walking their dogs and last summer I noticed more more ethnic minority families coming and having picnics which is really nice to see.”

Mr Bull, also a member of the Friends group, said the masterplan recognises the importance of wildlife in the area.

Recently he has seen roe deer footprints in the park and six buzzards, more commonly seen flying over the Peak District, have also been spotted there.

A big area of water, which will be used for managing rainfall, will help attract further wildlife and migrating birds.

Many schools use the area for cross country races, but it is hoped that further will be encouraged to use it for activities and outdoor learning.

Astrea Acacdemy Sheffield has recently opened in nearby Woodside.

Principal  Kim Walton said: “The vision for Parkwood Springs is extremely exciting; as the principal of a brand new academy within the area, it is easy to see the huge potential for regeneration and that the proposed outdoor leisure development is certainly the breath of fresh air the area is entitled to.

“As a community school, first and foremost, this project is one we will want to be involved in beyond the 10 year plan and one that should cement great opportunities for all ages within the community.”

The area also includes Wardsend Cemetery, which was transferred into the care of Sheffield Council in the 1980s, and has undergone huge improvements and is now used as a venue for performance, heritage tours and nature events.

It is the final resting place of Lieutenant George Lambert VC and many Victorian Sheffielders, including photographer WT Furniss and victims of the Great Sheffield Flood of 1864.

Howard Bayley, from the Friends of Wardsend Cemetery, said: “Parkwood is this amazing accessible space and Wardsend Cemetery is the northern gateway to it.

“The cemetery dates back to 1857 and has 30,000 people buried there, normal, every day Sheffielders.

“We’re very keen to see Wardsend develop for its history and its wildlife but also as a centre for art and performance.”