USP students propose new community centre for Gleadless Valley

  • Siming He and Xueyan Wu have been working with a local community group on proposals
  • Students have been undertaking work as part of the Postgraduate Advantage Scheme
  • The proposals were presented on Tuesday night at a community event with MP Louise Haigh

Students work on designs

Two MA students have been working with a local community group, Friends of Gleadless Valley (FOGV), to produce an initial outline proposal for a new community centre and workshops for new small, start-up businesses in Gleadless Valley.

The students, Siming He and Xueyan Wu, have been undertaking this work as part of the Postgraduate Advantage Scheme, which gives taught postgraduate students within the Faculty of Social Sciences the opportunity to undertake work experience with organisations who may not otherwise be able to take on an intern.

This proposal builds on the preliminary work of a group of final year MPlan students who spent the Spring semester working with FOGV and interviewing local residents about their lives and their experience of living in Gleadless Valley. Providing students with opportunities to engage with local communities and apply their knowledge and learning in ways that provide mutual benefits for students and communities is a central feature of learning and teaching in the Department.

The two MA students presented their proposal at a community event at the John O’Gaunt pub in Gleadless Valley on Tuesday night. In attendance was the MP for Sheffield Heeley, Louise Haigh, members of the community group and other local residents.

The site of the proposal was formerly occupied by Hemsworth School, which was demolished in 2003 and has remained undeveloped ever since. The designs also provide changing rooms, incorporating an informal football pitch that already exists on part of the land. The proposal also contains plans for a library and a meeting room. It is hoped that the proposal will be considered as part of the master-planning process that is currently underway in Gleadless Valley.

The proposed community centre would be constructed from shipping containers, which can be stacked together to make multiple rooms or joined up to make larger rooms. The appeal of shipping containers for use in houses lies in their simplicity and low cost: they can be constructed off-site, and a room can be delivered in one piece.

Model train shop

The students drew up the proposal using skills they gained from their respective courses. Siming is currently completing her MA Town and Regional Planning, while Xueyan is enrolled in the MA Urban Design programme. Whilst they were undertaking their work, the students were also able to view some housing for older people in Sheffield and think about how some of the ideas here could be applied back in China and vice-versa. Siming was also able to indulge her passion for model railways as she discovered that one of the members of FOGV runs the world-famous Marcway Models and Hobbies shop in Attercliffe.

Siming and Xueyan aren’t the only people in Sheffield looking to shipping containers as a building solution. Jon Johnson, a former police officer and founder of REACH Homes is currently in talks to develop a site in the city that would involve his affordable, eco-friendly shipping container homes.

Find out more about the Postgraduate Advantage Scheme.

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