Community in focus: Big developments are the talking point in historic Norton and bustling Meadowhead
It's an area brimming with history which has taken a big leap into the 21st century with brand new developments making it the envy of Sheffield.
Norton has gone from an historic sleepy village known for its idyllic Grade II listed church to a bustling residential area with Sheffield’s biggest, and possibly best, park – Graves Park.
Meadowhead is known for its cluster of family businesses fighting the big chains further afield. But there have been many changes to the Norton and Meadowhead area in recent years.
Gone are the days where pupils at Meadowhead School would plough through the mud on the sprawling field to reach the North and South buildings. Both sites were knocked down and merged into a large site with impressive sporting facilities. A huge car showroom now stands on one of the former plots.
Sport plays a big role in Norton. The total transformation of Graves Leisure Centre with a state-of-the-art gym and swimming pool along with the top class football facilities at the FA hub around the corner makes the area the envy of many.
And the latest development of a new retail park next door on the former Norton College site will complete the area’s transformation. Aldi, M&S Food and Costa are just some of the big names on the way to the area.
But these changes, especially the retail park, have caused some anxiety among residents and businesses in Meadowhead and Norton.
Traffic on Bochum Parkway, Meadowhead roundabout and Chesterfield Road is already a concern and the retail park is only expected to make things worse.
Shops on Meadowhead, especially ones which sell food, have been hit by the exodus of college students to Hillsborough on a brand new site.
Meadowhead School used to allow older pupils out to buy dinner but this has been stopped in recent years. The expanded sixth form has helped but footfall is down during the weekday.
Meadowhead Meats butchers and sandwich shop has been there since 2010 and like many small businesses it struggled when it started out.
But seven years on, things are healthy. Co-owners Jillian Wallace and husband-to-be Mark said they love '¨the area as they chat '¨between making '¨roast pork sandwiches for hungry customers.
“It’s the people who make it for anywhere and here is no different,” Jillian said. “They’re a great bunch. We get a wide range of age groups coming in. Teenagers at sixth form coming for pork sandwiches and pensioners coming in for meat.
The people who live around here are a loyal bunch and they’re ever so friendly.”
The conversation quickly turns to the planned retail park nearby which will include a Greggs bakery.
“It’s a good job they don’t do roast pork sandwiches!” Jillian said.
“But we’re definitely not fans of it. The traffic is bad enough as it is on the roundabout and the dual-carriageway – it’s only going to get worse.
“I suppose we’ll have to wait and see what the damage, if any, is.”
Dating back over 850 years, Norton was mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086. The village used to be part of Derbyshire but joined up with the wider Sheffield area many years later.
Notable residents include Sir Francis Chantrey – a famous portrait sculptor who was renowned as a leading arts figure in the Regency era of British history.
On his death, he left Â£100,000 – worth Â£100m today – to charity in 1848. He is buried in St James’ Church close to where he was born.
And you can’t talk about Norton and not mention Graves Park. It was donated to the city by John George Graves in 1925 to protect the 1,000-year-old woodland from development.
Now, the park boasts several football pitches, tennis courts, bowling greens, a nine-hole golf course, an animal farm and land with Highland cattle.
Husband and wife Ian and Sue Auckland have been councillors in the area for many years.
Sue said: “The area is amazing. One thing that strikes me is the number of community groups who really want to get involved and help improve the area. Friends of Graves Park and other groups are passionate about where they live.
“There is so much going on, people are never short of something to do.”
Ian added: “I’d echo those comments and I’d say we have Sheffield’s best park – people from all over the city and further afield come to Graves Park for a day out and to see the animals at the farm. It’s the jewel in the area’s crown.
“The area is proper middle Sheffield. It’s neither in the richest 10 per cent nor the most deprived 10 per cent. People are friendly, they work hard and bring their families up here. It’s a desirable area.”
The main talking point in the area at the moment is the planned retail park and both councillors are encouraged by the development.
Ian said: “In an ideal world, I’d have liked to have seen some much-needed housing on the plot of land where the retail park will go but I know the development is welcome.
“I’ve met the developers and they are keen to work with the communities affected by the construction through a liaison group which can only be a good thing.
“Two of the area’s biggest employers are the two big secondary schools in Meadowhead and, a bit further away, Newfield and the retail park will provide much-needed jobs for local people and that is never a bad thing.”
Mitchells Wines which has stood proudly on Meadowhead for more than 80 years is another family-run business rooted in the community.
Manager Wayne Griffin, 47, said the store has a loyal customer base of people from the area. He said: “Working for a family business, you feel more involved. “Meadowhead has a lot of family-run businesses which can’t be said for many areas.
“From the takeaways right to the sandwich shops they’re all run independently.”
Russell Jones, 37, who also works at Mitchells Wine and lives in nearby Greenhill, added: “I’ve lived nearby for a while and I’ve always liked the area. “I’d say I know 60 per cent of our customers who come through the door – they’re always very friendly.”