ONE of Huddersfield’s best known districts is set to enjoy a new lease of life.

The centre of Sheepridge has been turned from “an eyesore” into an attractive place serving the local community.

And the massive facelift is proving a tangible boost to an area with a somewhat troubled past.

The transformation follows a cash injection and months of work by Deighton and Brackenhall Initiative (DBI).

Work started at the beginning of the year on a scheme to improve and restore pride in the rundown village centre along Sheepridge Road.

Shops have been given new doors, windows and matching signs. Stone houses and walls have been renovated and cleaned.

Semi-derelict properties between the Post Office and main shopping parade have been demolished. In their place is a smart new car park serving local residents and businesses.

The boarded-up former Gaukrodgers bakery was bought by DBI and re-opened as a sandwich and pastry shop in spring. The new Gaukrodgers now employs four local people and is busy every day.

DBI’s chief officer Andi Briggs said: “It is absolutely fantastic. Everyone agrees that the area has been completely transformed.

“We have demolished the eyesore buildings and renovated others and we are very pleased with the result. It has been a long time in the planning, although the actual work only started earlier this year.

“We have employed local builders and they have been excellent. They have enabled us to achieve a lot in such a short space of time.”

“The feedback from local residents and businesses is that they are really, really impressed with the whole area. It looks so much brighter and more attractive.”

The building renovation and demolition works cost in the region of £500,000.

It is the latest phase of the DBI master plan, first published in 2001, to regenerate the Brackenhall and Riddings estates and Deighton and Sheepridge areas.

Mr Briggs continued: “This is very much a home-grown initiative and we hope it will leave a lasting legacy.

“We hope it will encourage local residents to use businesses in the village and that the benefits will spread to the wider area.”

He added: “Sheepridge Road is the main arterial road through the area and people travelling through will now take a different view of Sheepridge.

“We are getting rid of the negative stigma the area has had for many, many years. It is now much more welcoming.”

The DBI is an award-winning venture established in 1997 to tackle a range of issues which were spoiling the quality of life for local residents and deterring new people from moving into the area.

It is a partnership between the community, councillors, public services, agencies and business.

The next phase of work will focus on the other side of the area, between Deighton and Sheepridge Working Men’s Club.

What do residents and businesses think? It's on the next page.

THE regeneration of Sheepridge village centre has been given a big thumbs up by local residents and shopkeepers.

The district’s smart new facelift has received universal approval and is helping to restore pride in the area.

There also a feeling among local people that a corner has been turned and that this is the first step towards turning Sheepridge from an area with a dubious reputation into the quiet family community it once was.

In the past the area attracted headlines for the wrong reasons such as drugs crime, vandalism and violence. But that is now changing.

Vanessa Moore, 33, of Sheepridge Road, has lived in the village all her life. Her parents and grandparents also live here.

She said: “Sheepridge looks a lot better, a lot tidier and is generally more appealing to people who might want to move to the area.

“The improvements are bringing the area back to how it used to be, which is a warm community and the community is coming together.

“I have lived in Sheepridge all my life, it is my area and I have no intention of moving away.”

Ms Moore, who works in hospitality for Premier Inns, added: “It is a small cluster of youths, rather than the general residents, who have given the area a poor name. They are bored with nothing to do.

“Hopefully something will be provided for them as well.

“People can see the authorities working with DBI to make the community better and it is working.

“This is an area with a lot of families. We all want the same thing: peace, tranquility and a safe environment.”

Home support worker Alison Dransfield, 46, agrees. She said: “The centre was an eyesore, but it looks fantastic now. It will make a big difference to the area, I just hope that people keep it this way.

“I have lived here for four years and I don’t want to move away. I have had people visiting who have not been to the area before and they have been impressed.”

Ms Dransfield, of Wood View, added: I have lived in other areas around Huddersfield, but I like it here. The area has definitely improved.”

David Slater, 41, of Well Grove, lives and shops locally. He said: “The area used to look like a bomb site.

“Buildings were left derelict for years. It looks much better now and the new car park is a big improvement.”

Julie Folan, 36, is the supervisor in the Gaukrodgers sandwich shop. She said: “The way the village looks now is so much more inviting. I hope people will respect it.

“Working in the shop is fantastic, we all love it. We are all from around here and we know everybody.

“We are really busy, which is great.”

A COMMUNITY partnership has announced the opening of its latest business venture.

The Deighton and Brackenhall Initiative (DBI) has just opened a newsagent’s and convenience store in Norfolk Avenue in the Brackenhall and Ferndale area.

It is next door to the new £2 million community centre currently being built.

DBI members believe the shop will be an asset for the community, as it provides residents with closer access to essential goods. Previously they had to travel to Sheepridge village centre or ASDA supermarket.

Following concerns voiced by local residents, DBI has taken the decision not to license the sale of alcohol from the shop.

The opening of the convenience store is the latest small step in DBI’s regeneration programme. It follows the successful purchase and running of Gaukrodgers sandwich and pastry shop in Sheepridge Road, which opened at the beginning of May.

DBI chairman Clr Jean Calvert said: “The new shop is great news for residents in the area, as no-one wants to have to travel far or visit a large supermarket just for a pint of milk or a loaf of bread.

“The fact that the shop is not licensed shows we have listened to the community and underlines our commitment to involving local residents in our work.”