Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Memoranda

APPENDIX 1 (GRI 22(i))

An Area-Based Environmental Regeneration Case Study



  In 1998, Sheffield Wildlife Trust was commissioned to carry out an audit of all public greenspace within the Manor and Castle regeneration area: an estate with pockets of exceptional deprivation, social and economic exclusion, branded in 1996 as "the worst estate in Britain". The City Council had withdrawn all its open space-related services some years earlier, in response to impossibly high levels of vandalism and lawlessness associated with the Estate's parks and open spaces.

  The Green Estate Project, developed from the audit, started in February 1999, employing two full-time staff—an Environmental Development Manager and a Project Officer—to develop a definitive Environmental Action Plan for the Estate, and to deliver a practical demonstration flagship project on a site in Wybourn. That phase of the programme resulted in the creation of the Wybourn Community Garden, the establishment of Wybourn Greenbase (a community advice centre and environmental shop-front), and the adoption of the Manor and Castle Regeneration Area Environmental Action Plan as part of the area's wider Regeneration Masterplan.

  The first stage of delivering the Plan comes to an end in March 2003, after two years of action funded from a range of sources, including Sheffield City Council, EAF, SRB3, ERDF, ESF, HLF, Hanson Environment Fund, Countryside Agency, Neighbourhood Renewal Fund, Health Action Zone, Education Action Zone and Barclays Site Savers. Beyond that, the delivery of greenspace management functions will be transferred to a newly formed community enterprise—the Green Estate Company—and the ongoing support of the Green Estate programme will become the joint responsibility of Sheffield Wildlife Trust, Manor and Castle Development Trust and the Green Estate Company, working in partnership with local community forums and Sheffield City Council.


  During the course of the project, a huge amount has been achieved:

  1.  A comprehensive series of public events, meetings, media coverage and publications has kept the residents of Manor, Castle and Wybourn participating in the Green Estate programme. Much of the work delivered has been undertaken by volunteers, and has been linked to the Trust's training programme and apprenticeship scheme. Events have included health walks and guided cycle rides.

  2.  Three pocket parks have been including vehicle access barriers, community sculptures and other artworks, children's play facilities, striking entrance features, mosaic benches and wildlife-friendly, low-maintenance planting. They were created working closely with local people, work being undertaken by staff and volunteers from the Wildlife Trust, the local community, other community organisations, and local developers. After a long struggle to get the new housing development started, new properties near to Fretson Green are now selling well, and Bellways will be starting to develop Stage two of the development without any public financial subsidy. The ongoing costs of maintaining the pocket parks will be covered by payment of annual ground-rents from new housing built near by, into an ear-marked community fund set aside for the purpose—employing local people (who are currently being trained as part of the programme) to deliver the maintenance works.

  3.  Derelict allotments at Deep Pits have been cleared and returned to productive use as part of the first stage in developing this derelict wasteland into a new District Park. A new wood has been planted at one end of the site, a low specification path network has been installed and wetlands are being created, both for their wildlife value, and to provide fishing ponds for local people. The wetland system being planned will have the added benefit of contributing to a sustainable drainage system for nearby new housing. The boundary of the new park has been secured using a naturalistic arrangement of rocks, combined with a decorative stone wall, specially designed by an artist working with local residents. Development of the Park was highlighted as an example of good practice in the recently published report of the Urban Greenspace Task Force.

  4.  Local food growing and market gardening pilot projects have been established at a number of allotment sites across the area, to investigate the feasibility of different approaches to Green Estate food production and marketing.

  5.  A landscaping scheme valued at £132,000 has been carried out at Fairleigh Gateway, incorporating some innovative new planting approaches developed working with the Landscape Department of Sheffield University. It is both flower-rich and low maintenance, and has had a major impact on the visual amenity and wildlife value of one of the main routes into the Manor and Castle Estate.

  6.  Vehicle barriers, teen shelters and a skateboard/BMX track are being installed at Sky Edge Fields.

  7.  The first phase of new children's play facilities and vehicle barriers have been completed at Mather Road Recreation ground.

  8.  Victoria Methodist Hall has been purchased by the Wildlife Trust and refurbished as a combination of a community meeting space and the Trust's new Headquarters. It brings a significant SME into the heart of the regeneration area, gives the Trust a long-term stake in the area, and converts a previously poor quality community facility into a high quality, multi-functional one. Linked to the redevelopment of the Hall are the creation of a community wildlife garden, the provision of environmental activities and play facilities to local children, and the incorporation of water-saving and other environmental features into the refurbishment of the Hall.

  9.  A new nature reserve has been established at Carbrook Ravine, where 15 tonnes of fly-tipped waste were removed by Trust staff in one day, before the installation of vehicle access controls and the start of an area-wide waste awareness programme.

  10.  A series of schools projects, informal young people's group activities and environmental play schemes has worked with a significant proportion of the young people in the area, to entertain them and encourage them to make productive and safe use of their local greenspaces, while raising their awareness of environmental issues and enabling them to contribute to the regeneration of their local neighbourhoods. These have included the establishment of a "School Mini-Farm" in the grounds of one school.

  11.  A community tool bank and gardening advice service has been set up at the newly created Wybourn Community Garden, and has led on to plans to establish a Back Garden Growers' Consortium, to produce and sell locally grown produce.

  12.  Food Poverty Development work, aimed at promoting healthy eating, and linking to the production and distribution of locally grown fresh produce, has involved the establishment of community cafes at Sky Edge Community Centre and Victoria Hall, the organisation of a "Plot to Pot" cooking demonstration and training programme and the establishment of a regular fruit and vegetable distribution round around local shops on the Estate.

  13.  A series of pilot neighbourhood recycling schemes have been run, promoting and undertaking recycling at offices and homes around the estate. The development of greenwaste composting is being taken forward as a recycling initiative that has the potential to be commercially self-supporting in future.

  14.  A community tree nursery, growing and selling local provenance native trees has been established on the site of the historic tree nursery in Norfolk Heritage Park, and its operation is being linked into the community elements of redeveloping the Norfolk Park Housing Estate, by combining it with a community garden and education facility, and running seed-gathering and tree planting events.

  15.  Vacant development land is being enhanced for people and wildlife across Manor Castle, Wybourn and Norfolk Park (as well as parts of North Sheffield), by sowing it with wildflower seed to create large expanses of cornfield annual wildflower meadow—saving money in landscaping works, reducing maintenance costs and creating something of value to both people and wildlife. Other areas of vacant and derelict land have been sown with crops such as sunflowers, wheat and flax—all of which are visually attractive, novel and have the potential to provide some sort of harvestable crop. The productive land use team has harvested yellow rattle seed from one of the Trust's rural nature reserves, for use in reseeding areas of inner city vacant land, from where future seed yields can be harvested for commercial sale.

  16.  Work has started to regenerate Sheffield Manor as the centrepiece in a £10 million-integrated heritage, environment, tourism and training centre at the heart of the Green Estate. It will involve the restoration of a number of buildings, to provide accommodation, workspace, training facilities, a garden centre, a city farm, interpretation, refreshments, facilities for the processing and distribution of Green Estate produce, etc, etc, all linked through the common thread of Sheffield Manor and the land around it (which is the last remaining remnant of the historical Sheffield Deer Park). Preliminary community work is under way, a bid for funding from Heritage Lottery Fund is in hand, partnerships have been pulled together and business plans for all the elements of the Manor Farm are being prepared, to ensure that the whole will be a commercially viable centre-piece to the Green Estate in years to come. It is physically linked to the rest of the Estate by a circular heritage walk, for which a promotional leaflet has been produced.


  The integrated environmental programme described above is being delivered by a wide range of organisations, and funded from a huge variety of sources, but the whole is considerably greater than the sum of its parts, because of the central premise that greenspace should be valued for social and economic reasons as well as aesthetic and ecological ones, and that it should be treated as part of a wider asset base, rather than as an isolated drain on available management resources.

  From April 2003, the productive land use elements of the Estate will be separated off as commercially self-sufficient community enterprises, employing local people to deliver commercially viable environmental services. These will then, together with a range of other income streams developed by other elements of the Manor and Castle regeneration programme (such as the ground rents from new housing) underpin the onward management and maintenance of the Estate's greenspaces.

  Marrying together the environmental assets of Manor and Castle, with its social and economic needs, and developing a community-controlled asset base to support the parts of the system that are not in themselves economically self-sufficient should provide a sustainable solution to many of the Estate's problems. Linking community development, productive land uses, skills training, volunteer development, education, health, nature conservation, sustainable urban drainage, recreational provision, tourism and cultural heritage into one combined programme around and environmental theme appears to be a successful formula to provide a centre-piece to this particular area regeneration initiative.

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Prepared 28 October 2002