ABOUT THE PEOPLES PARK

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HEELEY PEOPLES PARK

Way back in the 1960s and ‘70s there was a plan to build a dual carriageway through Heeley: families were moved out and houses, pubs and businesses were demolished to make way. For various reasons, including public pressure, plans were shelved, and the land our park occupies lay derelict and disowned for years. In the mid 1990s a local group came together to protect the interests of the community and to transform this unloved corner of Sheffield. What was originally ‘Heeley Millennium Park’ was born, and it grew and grew…

Today, the park gives Heeley residents and visitors six distinct sites and a range of spaces and activities that make it like a mini Peak District on the doorstep: two world-class boulders, cycle tracks, picnic and play areas, incredible views, wildflower meadows and orchards. The park’s trees help clean our air, we have places to escape, meet and play; the space is also home to thousands of wildlife and bird species. What’s most special is that it is all ours: Heeley People’s Park is the largest community run park in the country. It’s not paid for or managed by the council, but by the people and businesses who live here and love it. Hence the name – this is a park of and for the people!

So it relies on the help and support of the community it serves. That means that between us we have to raise £45,000 each year just to pay our parkies and to keep the park going. And to keep going is great, but we want to do more than that…we have plans to create more spaces and places to love – permanent stages, new boulders, more planting and seating and play equipment. Just 20p per week from every household in the area covers the basics – the more we all give the more we’ll all get back. So Heeley People’s Park needs your help. Without that, it simply ceases to exist.

Lots of other communities are taking on the running of their parks, as local authorities across the country release land they can’t afford to maintain. The Heeley People’s Park project is one of the first in the country, pioneering ways of sustaining a local park with the help of local people and business. We’re working with Nesta, the national innovation organisation, to look at ways to do this, and other communities are watching us to see how we do (we’ve had visitors from Denmark and Japan for a nosey!) We want to see Heeley People’s Park thrive, but we can’t help wanting to show the world what we’re made of too – a neighbourhood that loves its park!

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HEELEY DEVELOPMENT TRUST

Heeley Development Trust is the charity that came out of the community’s work to transform the derelict space that was left after the road plans were shelved, in 1996. In 1997, having raised funding, the Trust took ownership of the 3.5 hectares of land through a 125 year lease from Sheffield City Council. Since then, the Trust’s staff and community volunteers have worked tirelessly to build the park.

But that’s not all…the Trust has grown and its work reaches way beyond the park. HDT now provides adult education in the community and runs projects like Recycle Bikes, hosts the Heeley Festival and The Big Boulder in the park; most recently the Trust has played a key role in keeping Meersbrook Hall in community hands. HDT is committed to developing ‘assets of community value’ (that’s the technical term) – buildings and assets that are an investment for our neighbourhood – like Sum Studios (the former Anns Grove School) and The Heeley Institute. These bring money into the Trust that can be reinvested in the community.

What binds all of our activity is that it’s all about making Heeley a great place to live, now and in the future.

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Our Vision

Our vision is for a park that the neighbourhood loves, the best backyard in Sheffield! We want places to play, socialise, learn, relax, move, explore. From improved lighting, to new public art, we’re full of ideas about how to make Heeley People’s Park even more brilliant. And we want those ideas to serve more types of park user than ever before, not just individuals but schools and organised groups too.

If we can achieve funding targets, over the next five years it’s our aim to develop:

• a permanent stage for live music and entertainment, for community use

• a café and toilets

• a new world-class boulder

• new bike tracks

What we can really do is determined by the funds we raise. That’s where you come in. There are loads of ways to help, and if we all gave a small regular amount we’d be able to develop confident plans for the future of the park. Sign up to our newsletter and we’ll keep you up to date on the work we’re undertaking and planning.

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THE PARKIES

There are two very good reasons we are where we are today. Since 2010, funding has paid for our amazing parkies, who lead our equally amazing volunteers in keeping our beautiful park. If you see them, give them a pat on the back…

Parkie profiles coming soon!

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