Heeley Millennium Park has been told it’s going to get a massive boost with funding from the Big Lottery.

View of the Millennium Park

View of the Millennium Park where the Bouldering Field will be.

After 2 years of work by staff at Heeley Development Trust, the Groundwork UK managed Community Spaces programme has agreed to fund improvements on the park to the tune of £450,000. It involved hours of consultations with local people, numerous drawings, thousands of calculations and 2 stages of applications but eventually the Flagship grant award was approved this April.

It’s over 12 years since work first began on the park and, though it’s stood the test of time, it’s ready for the revamp that this money can provide. Thom White, Park Manager, said “We started by looking at the playground. It’s survived well, given the amount of use it gets, but it’s looking tired. We’re going to bring it into the 21st century with new equipment, things like swings which kids and their mums and dads have been asking for for years. Things that are still popular, like the slide and the Witches Hat roundabout, will get a thorough revamp. Added to  that we’re going to extend the fence around the playground so children can safely play in the woods alongside  – making dens, developing their imagination- whilst the grown-ups can use the new picnic benches, knowing the kids are safe.”

“Next on the list was something for the older children so the plans include new bigger swings outside the playground, basketball and football courts. Plus there’ll be a whole string of  keep-fit equipment; a new generation of climbing boulders  to suit all abilities set in a revamped landscape; and improved BMX and mountain bike facilities”.

“The whole point is to give people of all ages the chance to get active, for free, in a place near to where they live,”   says Trust Manager Andy Jackson. “This grant will help us to build on the work we, and local people like us, have done to make this area a better place to live and work for all of us.”

Other planned changes include new signage to guide people through the park, solar powered lighting, new entrances and much more.  The Trust plans to keep people involved at all stages so look out for chances to look at the plans, help pick play equipment and even to get your hands dirty building the new park.

Thom White again – “All this money is what’s called ‘Capital’ funding for actual physical works not for staff costs. The next trick is to keep finding the money to pay the wonderful people who look after the park day-to-day!.”

If you want to know a bit more about the plans then give the Trust a call on 0114 2500613 or email thom.w@heeleydevtrust.com. For more details on the where the funding for the improvements has come from, have a look at www.community-spaces.org.uk.

Published Date: 29 April 2010
“THIS is the best thing that ever happened here,” says Peter Holland, looking out over the rooftops and minarets of south western Sheffield.
“It’s a lovely place to walk in and these lads do a grand job looking after it and improving it every day.”

Peter goes for a walk in Heeley Millennium Park every morning following advice from his doctor and remembers how the hillside has changed from rows of terrace houses, then a slum clearance wasteland knocked down for a new road that never came and then finally a park, put together thanks to the inspiration of local residents and the Heeley Development Trust.

“It’s unrecognisable compared to what it was,” he says. “Now you can’t do nothing better than go for a walk round here.”

Every morning Peter has a rest at the viewing platform above the Heeley white horse carved into the hillside.

As he talks, several gardeners are hard at work clearing litter and weeding nearby, formerly unemployed young men from around the city getting themselves back into work via an employment scheme based at the park.

Heeley Development Trust director Andy Jackson has been “scrabbling money together” as he puts it for the Millennium Park for years.

When the council granted a 125 year lease to the trust for the former slum clearance land around ten years ago, it was a mixed blessing: the park still needed maintaining, weeding, planting and developing according to how locals wanted it to look.

But at the start of this month, news finally came that the park had been awarded nearly £500,000 from the Big Lottery Fund Community Spaces programme.

“When I heard we’d got it, I actually cried,” says Andy. “It was a team effort of two years’ work, so I was really chuffed.”

The Heeley Millennium Park will become an official flagship for the Community Spaces programme, says Andy, and the idea is that the refurbished park will attract visitors from all over Yorkshire and Humberside (and possibly further afield).

“We’ve got lots of projects planned and people will be able to come to see how community parks can be maintained and what can be achieved,” says Zander White, Millennium Park development worker.

The original consultation with locals showed that people wanted a park that was 50% formal and 50% wild, says Andy.

Two thousand trees planted over the last ten years have now grown into proper woodland areas with daily jays and occasional visits from incongruous urban visitors such as pheasants and partridge.

The new community orchard planted in February will eventually provide locals and passers-by with apples, pears, damsons, strawberries, raspberries and cherries and the fruit tree leaves will also provide a ‘carbon sink’ to help clear some of the pollution (and carbon) from the nearby commuter roads.

Everyone likes community green spaces but the challenge is to make them pay for themselves, says Andy Jackson.

The plan in Heeley is to help cover the upkeep of the park by using the trust’s work on local buildings including the development of Anns Grove school and turning the buildings in Ash Tree Yard into a base for small local businesses.

The latter proposal still needs planning approval but he adds the time is right, now everyone’s election manifestos are talking about community empowerment.

“We want to provide a base for all the local people who are trying to set themselves up in business and at the same time generate enough income to cover the basic maintenance of the park.”

Local businesses means people within walking and cycling distance, he adds.

The incontrovertible fact is, that if the park is to continue to provide a beautiful green space for the local community it needs paying for, Andy Jackson says.

Peter Holland adds that the park – and Heeley City Farm – have made a huge difference to the improvement of the area. “Houses are flying over here now. A friend of mine only had their house up for two weeks and it was gone.”

He takes a last look at the spring landscape from the Heeley downs and begins his walk home.

“I’ve lived here 54 years and I’ve seen a few changes. I remember looking at this area from the bus and it was just a load of bricks. I’d never in a month of Sundays think it could look like this.”

A residents’ campaign to create a park and orchard in their neighbourhood is paying off handsomely.David Bocking reports


The Big Lottery Fund grant will be spent over two years and the new work will begin in earnest this autumn (the park is already developing a new community orchard site near Albert Road funded by a separate grant from the local area assembly).

Proposals for the refurbished nine acre park include:

– Revamped playground including natural play areas (including trees), swings and an adult exercise trail;

– A new ‘boulder field’ for climbing to include four or five boulders designed for different climbing levels, including real and man made rocks. A ‘mini Fontainebleau’ says Andy Jackson, referring to the famous French climbing region;

– Solar powered lighting to make the park feel safer at night;

– Overhauling flower beds to provide more colour and lower maintenance planting, including more wildflowers;

– More festivals and events on the top field, possibly including music and beer festivals involving the Sheaf View pub.

– A ‘Not Shore’ mountain bike trail including balance beams and jumps.


Tuesday, 30 March 2010 13:35 UK

A community project in Sheffield has been awarded £450,000 by the Big Lottery Fund to develop its local park.

The Heeley Development Trust which owns the Millennium Park bid for the money from the Community Spaces programme.

The programme gives grants to local groups to create or improve parks and green spaces for community benefit.

Heeley Trust’s chief executive, Andy Jackson, said the money would go towards a playground, a raised mountain bike trail and community orchards.

Mr Jackson said: “We talked to local people so that our bid proposals came from the community.

“We are focused on the long term maintenance of the park using things like solar panelled light posts and improving recycling and compost levels.”

The Heeley Trust received the highest individual grant available from the £50m Lottery Fund. The programme has awarded almost 250 small and medium grants across the country.

Thom White, Millennium Park Development Manager, said: “It’s essential we hang on to green spaces.

“One of the problems we face is the increase in obesity with people not exercising. Places like the Millennium Park give people somewhere to go to keep fit.”

If you have passed through the Thirwell Road end of the Millennium Park during February, you will have noticed a dramatic change in the area. A massive overgrown cherry laurel hedge on Goodwin Road and several sycamore trees have been removed to make way for a new community orchard.

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The Heeley Millennium Park Maintenance Team have been working hard to clear the site to make it ready for planting fruit producing trees and bushes. 16 new apple and pear trees will be planted in the central area with soft fruits and plums and cherries around the outside.

Heeley Development Trust have received a grant of £10,135 from the South Community Assembly Climate Change Fund to create the orchard and it will transform an underused area of the Millennium Park into a new resource for the Heeley community.

Winter Visitor We had a crowd of fieldfares and redwings visit the park in the February snow.  Contact Heeley Development Trust if you spot any unusual wildlife in the park!