Mount Pleasant Community Centre, the wonderful Grade II listed Georgian mansion and stables on Sharrow Lane, is under threat of being sold to a private property developer, who wants to turn the main building into around 20 luxury retirement flats and build around 40 new ones, having razed the old Victorian Highfield Special School to the ground. […]

Mount Pleasant Community Centre, the wonderful Grade II listed Georgian mansion and stables on Sharrow Lane, is under threat of being sold to a private property developer, who wants to turn the main building into around 20 luxury retirement flats and build around 40 new ones, having razed the old Victorian Highfield Special School to the ground.

The main house and stables were built in 1777, making them a year younger than the United States of America. Rather than letting private interest take these incredible buildings for profit, we’re going to make sure they’re retained for another 238 years as a central hub for an area wanting to deal with the challenges it faces and restore its community for everyone.

Pennie Raven and I have been working with the Council on our project since 2012 and have a community-focused vision for the site. Too many of our heritage buildings and community resources have already been lost and we’ve managed to get a hold put on any deal signing until our scheme has been given a fair shot.

To pay the bills we run our own businesses, but I guess you’d call us ‘social entrepreneurs’, because of the work for the city we’re already involved in, supporting businesses, projects, individuals and students. Together we run PechaKucha Sheffield, which has been showcasing the amazing things that happen in Sheffield for the last five years. Pennie is also the founder of Sheffield Soup, the pitching event that sociably crowdfunds local people’s ideas. Both of these initiatives are part of global networks of like-minded people and we hope they make a real difference here in our city.

In saving Mount Pleasant, we’ll create a place to bring community, compassion and real social responsibility together with a broad range of activities and people, all working together to help each other, the local area and Sheffield as a whole.

We’re building the blueprint for a co-housing, co-working ‘living lab’ in the heart of Sharrow, a centre for collaborative engagement in an active environment for people to live, work and learn together. All the activities that happen in, around and connected to the site and existing local projects will work on overlapping ‘avenues’, each focused on tackling the real issues we face, like our energy, food, health and wellbeing, how we work, enterprise and start-up support, housing, social care, homelessness and loneliness. These will be supported by local people, training, workshops, a fab lab and all sorts of amazing activities and events that will allow everyone to get involved.

All this will sit in the redeveloped grounds that will connect Abbeydale Road, via Mount Pleasant Park, through the site to Sharrow Lane. It’s about real, revolutionary placemaking.

Your initial reaction might be that this sounds a little idealistic, but if everything stacks up to mean it’s actually possible then it’s clearly what we should be doing. We’re not only breathing new life into and regenerating this site, but we’re also building a new framework that will enable others across the country to do the same in their communities.

The current developer’s proposal may speak to the housing shortage every demographic in the country faces, but the community’s need for a luxury retirement village is questionable. Fortunately, as the majority of their scheme is new build, we believe an alternative site which doesn’t have a beautiful heritage asset on it would be a significantly less expensive and more profitable scheme for them. We feel sure that putting their energy and resources into finding a more suitable location will prove successful.

Our vision is about local people creating innovations which lead to real sustainability, where the community develops the ability to look after itself. We all know there are more cuts coming and that any sort of support and provision will disappear. It’ll be up to all of us to make a difference, and we’re going to ensure Mount Pleasant is the centrally placed catalyst to do just that.

savemountpleasant.co.uk
@SaveMtPleasant

Photo by Dora Dc Photography

Jonny Douglas