Picturesque Sheffield village with an industrial heritage is a desirable place to live

“There are so many thoughtful and compassionate residents.” – Oughtibridge in Sheffield is not only an attractive place to live, it also has a strong communal spirit and more people are choosing to live here.

Friday, 21st May 2021, 12:01 pm
Oughtibridge Road Safety Action Group Chairman Gary Chamberlain (back middle), Amanda Rawson, Committee member, Wendy Godber, Social Media Liason Officer, Jennifer Murphy, Landlady at The Cock Inn, pictured with concerned residents at the Bridge Hill junction.

It is no surprise that people are choosing to settle down in the picturesque and once industrial village of Oughtibridge on the outskirts of the city within the bounds of Bradfield Civil Parish.

The area is well-known for its industrial past and was once surrounded by paper and corn mills and a manufactory for spindles, with many of the residents at the time employed at manufacturing firms.

The most notable mill was the Spring Grove Paper Mill, which was bought by the Dixon family in 1871 and specialised in tissues, making the Dixcel brand for many years – it was one of the first of its kind to use wood pulp to produce paper instead of rags.

Oughtibridge north of Sheffield.Picture Scott Merrylees

The site ceased operations as a paper mill in 2007 and since then its main function had been the conversion of rolls of paper into commercial products.

It was eventually closed in 2014 following consultation with the workforce, and all activity ceased on the estate early in 2015.

The site is now set for a major housing development after Sheffield-based housebuilder Sky-House Co was given planning permission to transform the land - and hundreds have enquired about purchasing a property so far.

Work has begun on the site, which will feature 35 new Sky-House homes to accompany the conversion of the existing old cottages into five properties, plus the conversion of the old mill into a community food hall.

Oughtibridge north of Sheffield.Picture Scott Merrylees

Customer service and sales manager Matt Yates said: “Our Oughtibridge Mill development is our most searched for and requested development, with more than 60 per cent of all enquiries coming for this site alone.

“We have had close to 450 enquiries for just 40 homes and are currently receiving around five enquiries every day.”

Currently, there are talks to turn the historic Old Paper Mill building into a mixed-use food hall, featuring pop-up food stalls and a high-end deli as well as a community hub and leisure space, with facilities for start-up businesses.

David Cross, the co-founder of Sky-House Co, said: “The interest in this site has been enormous and we are already in talks with two operators who are very interested in the food hall development, which would bring a new dining experience to the north of Sheffield and serve what is set to become one of the city’s most ambitious residential developments.

Developer David Cross from Sky House at the Oughtibridge Mill site. Picture: Chris Etchells

“The food hall will be a fantastic community, family and social space that will be of benefit not only to the people on this site but also for the north of Sheffield as a whole.

“And having seen the success of our Krynkl development at Shalesmoor in Sheffield, we are very keen to give the same sort of support to start-up businesses in this part of the city too, working with independent business to create an exciting new dynamic.”

Oughtibridge and the surrounding areas are part of a wider property boom across Sheffield and are tipped to become hotspots for growing families and professionals who are looking to buy larger homes on the outskirts of the city.

Sheffield housebuilder David Wilson homes recently committed over £1million to education facilities in the area to provide additional primary and secondary school places.

A £5,000 Traffic Regulation Order contribution will also fund the reduction of speed limits in the area.

A £20,000 bus stop contribution and £700,000 contribution to pedestrian connectivity, which will deliver new and improved pedestrian and cycle connections, will also ensure the safety of residents and accessibility to the development and its surrounding amenities.

In 2013 two identical brothers decided to take on the project of a lifetime, building their family dream homes right next door to one another on the site of a 200-year-old corn mill site in Oughtibridge.

The entire build of the Corn Yard development cost around £610,000 and featured on an episode of Grand Designs in 2018.

The internationally popular TV show, hosted by expert Kevin McCloud, showed how the challenging project included the uncovering of the original water mill, which is now a feature of the two properties.

Each home, hailed as the best of industrial chic coupled with a sense of rural idyll, has five bedrooms and three bathrooms.

The properties are perched on stilts to maximise the rural outlook, and the original water wheel spindle is preserved underneath.

The 80-metre dam, which once provided power for the corn mill, was cleaned up and restored, and these days the tranquil waters are a haven for kingfishers, owls and heron.

Corn Yard was named Residential Development of the Year at the prestigious Northern Design Awards 2018 and reached the finals of the 2019 RICS Awards for the Yorkshire and Humber region.

Residents who live in the quaint village are proud of where they live, and in recent years have been trying to build a stronger community.

Gary Chamberlain, who has set up the ‘Helping Oughtibridge, Worrall, Wharncliffe Side and Wadsley Park Locals’ community group, said: “I moved to Oughtibridge from Middlesbrough 20 years ago after being told of its friendly environment, it did not take long to realise that the local communities were proud of their area and this was immediately evident when I set up a charity to raise funding for the effects of the Asian tsunami, through the willingness and efforts of many individuals, over £30,000 was raised.

"There are so many thoughtful and compassionate residents who want to show that nobody needs to be alone and vulnerable. All that was necessary to do something positive was to reach out and coordinate a project that enhances our community’s life.

"Our communities, I hope like all throughout Sheffield, want to look out for those in need, and many individuals do."

He added: "Since setting up the HOWWL Facebook group, I have reached out to residents to ask them what they believe can help improve the area. I feel we cannot move forward in building a strong community unless you have the involvement and support of it and this we have.

"I feel it is important that the communities we live in have a responsibility for improving not only their day to day lives but those of our neighbours as well.

"I want to see opportunities and potential for all, and if I can go a little way in bringing that to our neighbourhoods, then this is what I want to strive for.

"I want to see local people supporting local businesses, local people having access to training and employment; I want our young people to have a positive outlook on their futures, I want our older people to feel safe and included.

"I look forward to the day when we do not see any discrimination of any description. Pipedreams, many would say but not impossible if we build our communities stronger and inclusive of all."

Gary has helped set up many local projects, including a food hub that has seen a ‘magnificent’ response in food donations to establish a weekly delivery to families that have struggled during the pandemic – “only last week I had two children who spent their money on bringing food into the hub,” Gary said.

He is also the group chairman of a road safety group that are seeking road safety improvements to make the roads safer for local residents who have become concerned about the number of accidents.