Local resident Antony Ellan has been writing a report about the on-going community project. As a resident who has been eager to start a cooperative scheme to bind the locals of Norton Hammer since moving in 2011 to Athol Road, he and a few over neighbours came together to orchestrate the start of the community project. Here is what he had to say.
“There has been a few of the local residents who have been coming together on a monthly basis to talk about issues of the Norton Hammer and ways in which we can improve the quality for both residents and businesses. Initially we started talking through disputes about the local parking situation which resulting in some minor compensation for the residents of Athol Road in the form of reduced rates while using the local facilities at the Climbing works and the local dance academy. Mainly due to the understanding that most of the issues where caused at weekends when both residents and users came together at the same times. This then formed to become the Norton Hammer community group.
One of the issues we recently acknowledged is the multiple bits of run down areas of land the council and businesses has allowed to go into disrepair. There is a couple of zones which we felt could be solved such as the fly tipping and graffiti but others such as the community garages have been in need of repair for some years, even from initially being built according some of the older residents.
Out of the community we sourced a local architect to come up with solutions for the area, to come up with some simple solutions we could propose to the local council in order to make the most out of our garages. We met up with the Architect as a community group, one of the things that came out of the meeting was the possibility of becoming a Community Interest company by using the garages for outside investors and interest. With some small solutions to alter the fabric of each garage to more business friendly appearance.
At first I thought why would anyone want use such a small garage space but after a little thought and a couple of meetings to form a plan to get this to work, opinions start to come round. We decided on social rents, not wanting just any company to be using the space. People who would agree to help and work with the community for there own benefit and improving the area. We would need to source a few materials to help improve the look and function of the garages, mainly them god awful green doors!!!
One of the keen gardeners Violet voiced her concern for there been a need for allotments in the area. Long waiting lists all over Sheffield, which got us thinking why not make this for us too. Our architect mentioned a scheme he know of in Todmorden, something about community vegetables, so we’ve added that into our plan as well. Since there’s plenty of space to the front of the garages Violets going to lead the community gardens with a few planters to start with a basic range items. Then allow people take it as they please, we’ll see how that bit goes.
One of the harder challenges has been to convince all residents to use the space. I think that numbers are about 80% at the moment with most of them willing to give a bit of time to help get things started. We offered to give the other 20% alternate facilities to the back of the garages to allow them to keep the full use of there own space. Its started to ramp up interest at least and made people aware of our plans.
Well that’s where we’ve got to at the moment, all seems to be moving along at a good enough pace, taken more than 6 moths just to get this far. But its allowed us to expand our community group and potentially we’ve got a project for the good of the community. Hard keep track sometimes, but its interesting to be involved in something for the benefit of my kids future. Hopefully this improves the area, might even boost the local shops.”