Story by Neil Schofield
Photos by Laura Farah, Sherin T Rajan, Jon Dallow, Catherine Brown, John Scholey and Graham Jones
In 1999 most of Parkwood Springs could be described as ‘unloved’. A few people knew about the area and explored it because of the nature and wildlife.
The landfill site was in full operation, with complaints about dust, smells and flies, and concerns about its effects on the health of local people. Meanwhile the Ski Village was flourishing and playing an important part in the lives of Sheffield’s young people.
In 2002 the council and other groups got together and commissioned consultations with local residents and research on a vision for the future of the site. That vision has guided the improvements that have taken place since, with consistent support from our local councillors and hard work by council officers.
The Friends of Parkwood Springs was set up in 2010, since when it has played a full part in protecting and improving the area. Apart from influencing the council’s plans, we have carried out conservation, introduced the wild flower meadow, and supported the Forest Garden.
One of the big changes has been in the number of people visiting and enjoying the site. Footpaths have been improved and new facilities opened, like the mountain-bike trail in 2012. The Beacons event and the Friends’ lantern procession have become an important event in the local calendar. Watercliffe Meadow School host races in the Sheffield Schools Cross-Country series, and South Yorkshire Orienteers hold regular events on the site.
The site’s wildlife value has led to the involvement of groups such as Sorby Natural History Society, the Wildlife Trust, the local group of the RSPB and Sheffield Bird Study Group.
The Friends of Wardsend Cemetery are making great strides in raising awareness of the history and heritage of the cemetery and improving its maintenance.
Two big changes are still playing out. Firstly, since the closure of the landfill site for active waste in 2014, only inert waste such as rubble and soil has been tipped there. The restoration is still taking place, but we hope that at least some paths on the landfill site will be open to the public by the end of 2020.
Secondly, as reported in previous Messengers, plans are now moving forward for the redevelopment of the old Ski Village site, which was closed after a fire in 2012. The Friends group is involved in discussions to ensure that the development works for the local community, wildlife and the city as a whole.
We hope for another twenty years with the Messenger and look forward to Parkwood Springs achieving even more of its potential.