The Steel Valley Project
The Steel Valley Project has been in existence since 1988. It has successfully undertaken a very wide range of landscape and green space enhancement projects within Stocksbridge. These have already done much to help the regeneration of this township of over 13,000 people in the northern part of the city of Sheffield
A five year phase of the project is recently drawing to an end. This is a joint project with the South Yorkshire Forest Partnership and funding of around £1 million has been made available from the Lottery Heritage Fund, local agencies and the EU. This heritage based project aims to make this hidden landscape accessible to the widest possible community, both local people and those from the wider area of Sheffield and Barnsley. Through opening the area up to a wider public and developing sustainable tourism, this project will help to take pressure off the neighbouring Peak District and enhance the quaility of life of those living in Stocksbridge.
The aim of this website:
- to examine the potential of the existing green spaces to enhance the quality of life and livability of Stocksbridge, as well as to enhance local biodiversity
- to consider the means of involving the local community in decision-making
- to find a means of prioritising changes to green spaces and the use of manpower and financial resources
A summary of the Aims
An overview of the potential to enhance the local quality of life through improving the greenspaces
The Steel Valley Project - this website provides information on:
- the history of the Steel Valley Project and the resources available to the local community
- the environment of Stocksbridge township
- the potential for enhancement through appropriate landscape and green space management.
For detailed information on the project - click the Introduction button to the right or use the top menu buttons.
The detailed findings of the Audit for each of over 80 greenspace sites in or adjacent to the built up area of Stocksbridge are online. These studies have been sponsored by local agencies and firms and undertaken by ecology and landscape experts from Stocksbridge.
Every greenspace in Stocksbridge has been visited and a record made of:
- its visual qualities and how well it is kept - see site reports
- evidence of use of the spaces by passers-by and people living nearby - see site reports
- biodiversity looked at through the habitats that the site supports (categorised by habitat plus landscape management regime). For sites which proved to be rich in species of plants, additional information was gathered to record the main plant species found across these special sites - see Biodiversity section.
A Message Board provides information about local events from the Steel Valley Project Team and is where the Team can put your suggestions. You might want use this Message Board to see if any other members of the local community would like to work with you, to get a new greenspace enhancement project going or to work on an existing project, and to get your ideas through to the Steel Valley Project Team.
Aim of this Steel Valley Project website
This website aims to keep the local community informed about:
- the potential that exists in green spaces for improving aspects of people's lives in their local community through:
- preservation of the high quality landscape which is evident in and around the town of Stocksbridge
- enhancement of the local urban green spaces:
as places to support a more diverse range of leisure time activities and, if designed properly, that will encourage a higher level of participation in outdoor activities
as places which can support a far greater level of biodiversity for the benefit of wildlife and for the enjoyment of those watching
- development of a greater understanding of local heritage. Using this knowledge as a starting point when developing educational and health-related projects (encouragement of walking and cycling) to stimulate use of the outdoors and local landscapes.
- how the local community can better involve itself in the identification and understanding of the issues related to planning, designing and managing local greenspace, as well as the potential for change inherent in the local landscape and green spaces. For instance looking at:
- what stimulates or deters Stocksbridge people in the use of their local green spaces
- what can be done to enable these green spaces to provide better support biodiversity
- how it is possible for the local community to enhance aspects of environmental sustainability through relatively small 'on the ground' actions. A major problem when there is so much that could be done is how to prioritise action. To do this the local community needs to work out what matters most - what should determine priority. This is a job for the future, but points to consider include what it means to the planning, design, management and financing of green spaces, if it can be accepted that:
- people travel less when local landscapes can support their recreational interests
- For this to happen the local community needs to work out what people are prevented from doing at present because the right settings do not exist in the local green spaces. The local community needs to work with the Steel Valley Project team and the Sheffield City officials to determine what is really possible locally. Later on the question of what else a particular greenspace could be used for is an important issue, as this will help guide the decision-making process.
- school children are less likely to be driven to school if they can walk through pleasant, safe green routes
- Working with schools, parents and residents can generate workable solutions and help to identify where money can best be spent on enhancing the quality of specific green spaces.
- people are happier and more content with their home environment if they can think of it as well cared for (see the MORI report - Physical Capital: Liveability in 2005)
- The visual quality of the area immediately outside their homes is particularly important to older people in any community: a well maintained, neat and cared for environment is taken as a sign that local inhabitants are 'in control' of the area and 'watch out for their neighbours'. For this reason, shaggy, non-maintained landscapes are rarely a good solution directly adjacent to houses - this factor can help to determine expenditure priorities.
The potential to enhance the quality of life in Stocksbridge - its landscape, the quality of the present green spaces and the role of the Steel Valley Project
The potential to make a high quality urban environment lies in the high quality farmed landscape, moors, woodlands, streams and lakes which create a very special setting for Stocksbridge. This larger landscape, of which the local green spaces are a part, acts as a visual backcloth to this hillside settlement. Unusually for an urban area the larger landscape dominates the view from many homes - this makes Stocksbridge a special place in which to live. Unfortunately many of the smaller green spaces, introduced as the town expended during the twentieth century, are of poor quality. Money was never found to plan and design them as adequate public spaces and the financial and manpower resources were never available to undertake proper planting or landscape design schemes.
For the most part the large number of smaller green spaces have no real function or usefulness. They are just an ongoing cost to society - if they are not to become eyesores they must be regularly mown during the summer months. However with imagination, good design and land management skills many of these 'left over' green spaces could be designed to attract local people to use them regularly. At the same time, through appropriate planting and management of the vegetation, the ongoing maintenance costs could be reduced. On many sites the aim could be to enhance biodiversity through creating habitats rich in plants and capable of supporting a range of wildlife.
Working with Local Agencies
The Steel Valley Project Team look after this landscape. They work mainly with the Sheffield City Council, the South Yorkshire Community Forest and the Countryside Agency to implement green space enhancement schemes. Many local groups, as well as members of the local community and other interested agencies, have been involved in these schemes 'on the ground'. The work of volunteers from the local community has been crucial to their success. Local education establishments from primary school to university level have been actively involved in generating ideas about what could happen within the Stocksbridge green spaces.