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Heeley City FARM

Working for the community with the community

History

Heeley City Farm is built on land that use to be many houses. In the 1960s/70s Sheffield City Council agreed on a controversial by-pass and the landscape changed.

Bypass

In 1963, Sheffield City Council approved plans for a bypass through Heeley to run parallel to London Road, below Anns Road. Heeley residents realised that this would be a "through-pass" not a by-pass, completely splitting the local community.

There was massive local opposition.

In 1978 the by-pass plans were finally dropped. But by this time, residents living on its proposed route had faced 15 years of uncertainty and insecurity. Their homes weren't eligible for improvement grants, and repairs didn't seem worth doing. The long period of blight had made it too late to save the immediate neighbourhood from demolition.

Demolition

Demolition on the farm site took place between 1978 and 1981. During that period, it was hard to imagine Heeley as anything except a sea of dust and destruction. With the by-pass plans defeated, the Council didn't have many ideas of what to do with the land. No money was available for building new houses.

The only plans the Council could come up with were to use the land for light industrial development.

Heeley City Farm

Heeley Residents Association wanted to see the land used to make Heeley a better place to live. During 1980 the Association developed the idea of a city farm, and gradually won support for it. Work began on site in July 1981 and the Farm was founded.

Over the following years Heeley City Farm had to fight one major battle after another for money and security but the enthusiasm of workers and residents won through. The Farm grew organically over the years from it’s early days with a shed and £25 in the bank, and soon became a well-loved part of the Heeley landscape providing beautiful green spaces and education, employment, and training opportunities.

Heeley City Farm is now a well established community, not for profit charity and visitor attraction based on a working farm a mile from Sheffield City centre. Staff and volunteers from Heeley City Farm work with young people, adults with learning disabilities and with local communities across Sheffield to promote regeneration, environmental education, energy efficiency and health and well-being. Horticulture trainees, staff and volunteers also manage organic vegetable gardens at Meersbrook Park, Wortley Walled Gardens and Firth Park allotments.

The last remaining terraced house on the Farm site on Alexandra Road has been eco –refurbished and now houses South Yorkshire Energy Centre, an interactive visitor and advice centre open to the public on Wednesday - Sunday, 11am - 3pm.

Heeley City Farm is open every day of the year except Christmas Day 9am till 5pm

Written by Andrew Pearse on Tuesday February 21, 2017

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