Community left to decay now on course to receive £22m lease of life with retirement complex 'Neglected village' set for boost

Dave Clarke A SHEFFIELD community which was left to decay while other areas of the city received millions of pounds in investment is now on course to receive a new lease of life.

The historic Market Square of Woodhouse was once a bustling centre of the community, with shops and supermarkets clustered around old village stocks, war memorial and Grade II-listed former Cross Daggers Inn.

But during the past two decades most of the shops have closed and the once-thriving village centre popular with pensioners now has a rundown look and is filled with boarded-up store fronts daubed with graffiti.

The opening of a supermarket at the top end of the former mining village took more business from the square, which was once the site of an 18th century market.

But with work due to start on a giant retirement village this summer, Woodhouse is set to receive a multi-million pound boost, along with spin-off benefits in regeneration money earmarked for new community facilities.

ExtraCare Charitable Trust is spending 22m on new facilities on the site of the old Woodhouse grammar school at Station Road which will include a restaurant, shop, craft centre, gym and computer facilities.

The complex will provide 209 flats and nine bungalows with its own medical, social and sports facilities on a single site and

create jobs for staff employed there.

In a linked application, a football pitch and bowling green lost as a result will be replaced

elsewhere in the village along with other new community facilities.

The investment is long overdue for long-time residents such as Ken Randall of the Woodhouse and District Community Forum which represents the area on the city's south-east area panel.

"Woodhouse has been neglected and starved of funds for years and that's why the Market Square has become shabby and decayed," he told the Yorkshire Post. "We have more elderly people living here than any other area of Sheffield and it has become a no-win area which has just plodded on because no-one has given it a push.

"Ironically, because of the fact that we have become the 10th most deprived area of the city we now qualify for Objective One status.

"And with the money the retirement village is bringing in, hopefully in the next two years we are going to see some radical changes for all sections of

the community, both young and old."

Already 3,000 in Neighbourhood Renewal funding has been used to revamp the square and improve its general appearance in order to tempt shoppers back.

And the area panel which represents the village is waiting for the outcome of a bid for Objective One funding to employ a full-time community development worker who will help local residents to breathe new life into the community.

Mr Randall said Woodhouse also badly needed a community centre to act as a focus for residents and a youth club to cater for the needs of the young.

Ward councillor Marjorie Barker said the village had received regeneration funding and added that the building of the retirement village would bring additional investment and new jobs in the area.

"Under the council's strategy to direct resources into the most needy communities and help close the gap between them and more prosperous neighbourhoods, the south-east area of Sheffield will receive over 240,000 in the next two years,

of which more than 71,000 will be spent in Woodhouse," she said.

"The south-east area panel which covers the Woodhouse area does a great deal of work to involve and empower the local community to improve their area."