Dore and Totley - communities campaigning for change

PUBLISHED: 00:00 02 April 2014

The rolling countryside towards Dore and Totley

The rolling countryside towards Dore and Totley

© Brian Ross Photography

Community pride has set two neighbouring villages on the campaign trail as Andrew Vine reports

This is just about as far south as Yorkshire goes – the very edge of Sheffield, where the Steel City gives way to the Peak District. And sitting very prettily on the border with Derbyshire are the villages of Dore and Totley, amongst the most sought-after and prosperous communities in South Yorkshire, home to sports stars and families whose histories in the area reach back a very long way indeed.

Both the villages were once part of Derbyshire until being absorbed into Sheffield in the mid-1930s and Dore still has a foot in both camps, straddling the border. Even its name tells part of its story, because Dore derives from an Old English word meaning a gateway between two kingdoms.

This village set in glorious countryside played a pivotal role in the story of our kingdom, because it was here in 829 that King Egbert of Wessex accepted a surrender that effectively made him the first King of England.

Dore and Totley are proud of their histories, and that helps to foster a powerful sense of community, with local residents committed and active in working to preserve their heritage and safeguard their surroundings.

People power is on the move here. Villagers driven by their sense of place and the need to recognise the special character of where they live have set out on the campaign trail.

In Dore, that means a determination to have a greater say over the village’s future. In Totley, it means a resolve to save its library from closure.

For Dore, protecting the village from inappropriate development and preserving the green belt that surrounds it are both vital. Dore Village Society, founded in 1964, is trying to ensure the future remains in harmony with the past by using recent legislation to draw up a neighbourhood plan that would become part of council guidelines for what is acceptable or not.

Because the village straddles the Sheffield and Derbyshire border, the society needs to reach agreement with both the city council and the Peak District National Park.

David Crosby, who is leading the society’ negotiations, said: ‘The key policy areas the village is concerned about is protecting the green belt and prevent garden grabbing.

‘The people within the village definitely want something to happen and are very much behind the proposals. We’ve already taken the views of the village and the ideas that have been canvassed are fully supported.

‘It’s got a strong community feel about it. One in five adults is a member of the Dore Village Society, which is one of the highest levels of involvement I’ve known of.’

The historic nature of Dore, as well as its setting, means that it is more than ever important to ensure the village is protected from unwanted development, he added.

‘It has a very fragile character. There is a lot of threat of development in the green belt, particularly in Sheffield. Dore’s historic links as a Derbyshire village make it special, as does its separation within Sheffield from most of the city by its green belt and woodland.’

Dore’s setting has long made it one of the most sought-after locations in South Yorkshire, attested to by the number of sports stars who have settled here. Former Yorkshire and England cricket captain Michael Vaughan is a resident, as is former England football international Chris Waddle. The late Emlyn Hughes, who captained England and Liverpool, also made his home here.

In Totley, the fight is on to save the village’s library, one of 11 across Sheffield earmarked for closure by the city council as part of budget cuts. It’s a campaign that has united residents since being launched last September, involving holding public meetings and raising a petition that triggered a council debate.

Even if the council goes ahead and shuts the library, Totley is determined to keep its doors open, drawing up plans for the community to run it, because it is about much more than borrowing books.

Hetty Moran, chair of the Totley Residents Association, said: ‘The elderly use the library not just to borrow books, but as a community centre. The nearest libraries will be a bus ride away for those without their own cars.

‘We’re all banded together in this. There has been such support, we’ve had a number of public meetings and activity days and young and old alike have turned out.’

As in Dore, there is a powerful sense of history in Totley, which was mentioned in the Domesday Book as Tottinglee. Mrs Moran said: ‘A big part of the community are people who have been born and bred in Totley, whose parents were born and bred here, so there’s a lot of community spirit and there’s a lot of history here.

‘Although it’s a suburb of Sheffield, it very much has a village feel about it and we are as about as far out on the Sheffield boundary as it’s possible to be, it’s literally two seconds to the Derbyshire border.’

Pride in history, community spirit and determination – qualities shared by Dore and Totley that are the greatest strengths they have in pursuing their campaigns.

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