Sheffield's Meadowhall measures it's success by it's strength as a community

PUBLISHED: 11:58 06 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:06 20 February 2013

Sheffield's Meadowhall measures it's success by it's strength as a community

Sheffield's Meadowhall measures it's success by it's strength as a community

A shopping mall reaches a landmark anniversary this year and measures success not only in profits but by its strength as a community Photographs by Elizabeth Savage

Business is business at Meadowhall, one of the countrys leading shopping malls. Its there to make money. But it has also developed a strong community spirit since it opened 21 years ago.

Its like a small town, said Ann Wilson, manager of Goldsmiths jewellers which has two stores and is one of more than 280 retailers in the centre on the outskirts of Sheffield. Its a safe place and everyone knows each other. There is a friendly Northern feel about the place.

Ann has worked at Meadowhall for about 15 years and she has seen it grow. I not only work here I meet my friends here. I could be here all day. Everyone is so neighbourly.

Romance blossoms and people fall in love at Meadowhall. Two of our staff met their wives here, said Ann.

And when there is trouble there is support and reassurance. People help each other out. Everyone came together during the floods in 2007. We were using each others buckets and mops, added Ann.

Richard Pinfold has been marketing manager at Meadowhall for three years. He was struck by the sense of community when he arrived at the centre which invites many thousands of people through its doors every day not just to shop but to socialise.

People come as families. Children play safely while parents shop or meet their friends. There are tea dances every week when at least 60 people come together just to enjoy themselves.

Ive been bowled over by the sense of community here, said Richard. And it stretches beyond Sheffield, right across Yorkshire. But we are close to the heart of the local community.

There is reaction to almost everything we do. We moved a bronze statue and received massive response from people wanting to know why its an iconic feature marking Sheffields steel heritage. Which is great. It means people are bothered about Meadowhall.

Its because of this kind of response that Richard wants to collect Meadowhall moments. Its our new campaign. We want to hear about any special moment people have had at Meadowhall. People have proposed marriage, they pulled together during the floods when people didnt go home; they stayed to help each other.

The Meadowhall experience goes beyond a retail one; its an experience with more depth and engagement than that. Theres a feeling of community and belonging.

Meadowhall, like any other small town, is keen to protect the environment. It does this in different ways such as harvesting rainwater to use around the centre and it was the first UK shopping centre to develop an onsite resource and recovery recycling centre. Last year the shopping centre reduced its use of power by enough to serve 2.1million homes.

Charity also begins at Meadowhall. This year the centre has adopted Helens Trust as its charity. It supports those with an incurable illness who want to stay in their own home.

The making of Meadowhall

Meadowhall opened in September 1990.

It is built on the site of an old steelworks at a cost of 250 million as the vision of entrepreneurs Eddie Healy and Paul Sykes.

Meadowhall is now owned by British Land and London & Stamford Investment.

The shopping centre has more than 280 retailers.

It has 1.5 million sq ft of retail floor space.

There are 12,000 free car parking spaces.

Up to 300 trains and 88 trams a day plus 100 buses an hour stop at the centre.

The print version of this article appeared in the October 2011 issue of Yorkshire Life

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