Petition criticises regeneration plans for Stocksbridge town centre

The three-storey library and community hub which is the focal point of regeneration plans for Stocksbridge town centre, at the edge of Sheffield. Picture: Stocksbridge Town Deal BoardThe three-storey library and community hub which is the focal point of regeneration plans for Stocksbridge town centre, at the edge of Sheffield. Picture: Stocksbridge Town Deal Board
The three-storey library and community hub which is the focal point of regeneration plans for Stocksbridge town centre, at the edge of Sheffield. Picture: Stocksbridge Town Deal Board
A petition has been launched protesting about the actions of the board spearheading a £24.1m regeneration plan for Stocksbridge.

The petition was supported at a meeting of a community forum last week in Stocksbridge, said the campaigner who launched the online version. The petition calls for fresh public consultation following decisions by the Stocksbridge Town Deal Board to shelve several aspects of its proposals and concentrate instead on funding a new library and community hub, called Stocksbridge 519, and a new public square, plus improvements to the town centre shopping area.

The petition also calls for Sheffield City Council, as the accountable body for the government-funded project, to insist on the full publication of all business cases and reports for all active and paused projects.

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It demands “a complete review of representation, governance and transparency of the board to ensure compliance with government guidance and city council policy”.

The Stocksbridge Town Deal Board was set up to oversee a successful bid to the government’s Levelling Up Fund (LUF). Other funding coming in to Sheffield will be used on projects in Attercliffe and Parkwood Springs.

Board meetings are currently not open to the public but the minutes are published on the city council website.


Simon Ogden, who launched the online version of the petition, chairs the Upper Don Trail Trust. The trail, which is a proposed riverside walking and cycling route that aims to connect Sheffield with Stocksbridge and the Peak District, is one of the original projects that would have benefited from funding that has now been rerouted to the town centre regeneration scheme.

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A new hydrotherapy pool at Stocksbridge Leisure Centre was also put on hold after costs spiralled from £500k to £1.8m. Other schemes that have been halted include new 3G sports pitches and improvements to the Little Don river.

Mr Ogden said that the community forum meeting was attended by 40 to 50 people. He said that none of the board members or officers attended the meeting.

He said that the meeting heard a report from Coun Susie Abrahams about a Stocksbridge Town Council meeting that had received a progress report from the board. He said: “However, my impression was that the presentation had not answered many of the concerns she and other town councillors still had.”

He added: “There was pretty much unanimous concern expressed at the forum as to the lack of engagement, explanation or evidence behind the decisions of the STD board including the one to shelve so many of the 10 original projects, including the trail, hydrotherapy pool, river restoration, 3G pitches etc, in favour of a new library/community hub, a project whose benefits have not been publicly demonstrated and which did not even appear in the main consultation at the start of the LUF process, which is frequently referred to in the board’s statements.

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“There are many unanswered questions about the need for and future viability of a new building, who would own and be responsible for it, the process required to obtain properties to make way for it, and whether issues like parking and ground conditions had been fully considered.

“People were asking why this flagship project still seems so undeveloped in its business case. There was also support for all the shelved projects which are actually beginning to look more deliverable in the now two-year deadline remaining.

“At the end of a lengthy and often quite angry discussion there was a unanimous vote in favour of supporting the petition, which was posted online last week, demanding that the council step in as accountable body to carry out a review of governance and recent decisions.”

The petition has so far been signed online by 180 people. There are plans to hold signing sessions in Stocksbridge for the paper version, said Mr Ogden.

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He said that Marie Tidball, the Labour Party candidate for the Stocksbridge and Penistone Parliamentary seat held by board co-chair MP Miriam Cates, said that she is going to write to the Department of Levelling Up to ask if they have ever carried out the required annual governance check on the board.

Co-chair of the Stocksbridge Town Deal Board, Yuri Matischen, said: “We make no apology for putting regeneration, jobs creation and new opportunities for our town at the front and centre of our priorities for Stocksbridge.


“Our public consultation has always pointed to the town centre as being a key concern and all board members agree that a regenerated Manchester Road should come first.

“The Town Deal Board is tasked with making these decisions and responding to changes in circumstances which, of course we have seen with rising costs. We are all committed to delivering the best deal for Stocksbridge and unlocking those projects which will make the biggest difference to our community.”

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A spokeswoman for the board said that the town centre investment will deliver “transformational projects” in the Manchester Road area of Stocksbridge, including a new town square, paving and public realm work and a shop front improvement scheme.

The first phase of projects also includes a local Hopper Bus service, the Oxley Park Improvement Project and grants for imrpovements to Stocksbridge Park Steels FC and Stocksbridge Rugby Club.

Sheffield City Council has been approached for comment but has not yet responded.

The Levelling Up Fund proposals for Attercliffe include supporting a National Centre for Child Health Technology (NCCHT) to be built at the Olympic Legacy Park by the Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.

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The old Adelphi cinema will be the focus of a new Adelphi Square. There will also be a major riverside housing project with workspaces and a cultural centre.

In Parkwood Springs, the plans focus on creating a new country park, improving the walking and cycling paths. Work will help turn the old ski village into a leisure destination.