IMPROVEMENTS have begun at Sheffield’s biggest local shopping area following a £125,000 investment from the council - the first phase of a scheme to help struggling retail centres around the city.
Funding from the Thriving District and Local Centres scheme has allowed railings to be repainted and a new full time ‘lengthsman’ taken on to keep the district clean and tidy.
Wendy Wells, project manager at Hillsborough Forum, the suburb’s development agency, said: “There’s not a lot of money being invested but what matters is how it is used.
“The funding is tackling little things which help to lift the area and attract customers. Further work involves developing land owned by the council on Hawksley Avenue, which is used unofficially for parking, into a formal car park which should help.”
She added: “I’m quite happy with how the scheme is progressing, which follows consultation with businesses and residents. We are also planning to spend money marketing Hillsborough to the wider area through a website.”
But butcher Nigel Pearson, of family-run EW Pearson Butchers, on Middlewood Road, doubted whether the size of the investment will make enough difference to the area’s flagging fortunes.
He said: “There needs to be larger investment in the area and the main problem which needs attention is parking - a much larger car park could be built next to Hillsborough Park than on Hawksley Avenue.
“We could also do with spaces on the streets for people to pull up for a few minutes if they need to buy a paper from the newsagents.
“We also need parking to be free - otherwise people will just go to Meadowhall.”
Mr Pearson said that although his branch is still busy, more customers need to be attracted to the area “for shops to survive”.
Consultation about improvements to Hillsborough district centre found that members of the public wanted better parking, improved maintenance of the shopping centre, public toilets, and temporary window dressing to improve vacant stores.
Hillsborough is the first area of Sheffield to receive funding for improvements.
A further £125,000 has been made available for smaller-scale schemes to improve other local shopping areas around the city.
A survey has been carried out of all district and local shopping centres in Sheffield to find out what improvements shoppers and traders want.
Discussions about the Thriving District and Local Centres policy will take place at separate Sheffield Council Community Assembly meetings on Thursday.
Central Community Assembly, covering Central, Broomhill, Hillsborough and Walkley wards, meets at 6pm at the Quaker Meeting House, St James Street; South Community Assembly, which covers Gleadless, Graves Park, Beauchief and Greenhill, and Nether Edge wards, meets at the St Peter’s Common Ground centre, on Machon Bank, Nether Edge, at 6.30pm.