Community parkland project creates a ‘hidden gem’ in neighbourhood

The project in Shroggs Valley, Halifax.
The project in Shroggs Valley, Halifax.

Community and councillors in Halifax have worked together to create a hidden gem of green space in their neighbourhood.

This summer children from Lee Mount and Mount Pellon schools in Halifax joined members of Park Ward Neighbourhood Forum in an event to celebrate the first stage of ambitious plans to encourage more people to enjoy Shroggs Valley, Halifax.

Park ward Councillor Jenny Lynn (Labour) said the aim was to encourage people to enjoy the relatively unknown stretch of woods and meadowland between Lee Mount and Pellon Lane.

The idea of getting people to make more of the green space on their doorstep started two years ago, when Park Ward Forum asked people what would improve their quality of life.

One of the most popular ideas from people living near Queen’s Road and Pellon Lane, was somewhere green for the children to play.

Councillor Lynn remembered the steep valley on the northern edge of the ward, which many years ago had been used as a landfill site.

“The tip had been covered over, and the edges planted with trees – and for a while, local people used the area for sports and recreation,” she said.

“Councillor Bryan Smith remembers playing football there, whilst former Mayor, Ferman Ali, played cricket there too.

“Then about 25 years ago, methane gas was discovered leaking from the tip, and all official recreation activities down there came to a sudden halt.”

But a quarter of a century later later, the methane gas has gone, leaving behind is a large flat meadow, over quarter of a mile wide, surrounded by peaceful woods that are home to deer and foxes and other wildlife, she said.

The Neighbourhood Forum set to work to see how they could make the area more attractive and easy to use by people living either side of the valley, in Park and Ovenden wards.

With support from Groundwork Trust and the Community Foundation for Calderdale, they made a start by raising funds to create a new crushed stone path leading into the meadow from the junction of Shroggs Road and Hebble Lane, with a couple of picnic tables for visitors to enjoy the open views, explained Councillor Lynn.

So on a gloriously sunny afternoon, the children from Lee Mount and Mount Pellon were able to enjoy chasing butterflies with the Council’s countryside service, whilst staff from Mixenden Activity Centre showed them how to make kites and Halifax Central Initiative staff got them to come up with more ideas about what they would like to see next down there.

Councillor Lynn said that future plans – funding permitting – include revamping the paths which lead down from Pellon Lane, putting up notice boards that explain about the wildlife and history of the area, and perhaps surfacing the path which encircles the meadow, so that it can be used by runners and walkers all round the year.

“There are even hopes that it might be possible eventually to recreate sports facilities like the cricket pitch or football space in the valley, perhaps as part of plans for Active Calderdale,” she said.