The Dearne Valley is situated within South Yorkshire, including parts of Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham. From the centre of the area it is approximately 16 miles to Sheffield, 31 miles to Leeds, 15 miles to Doncaster, 7 miles to Barnsley and 7 miles to Rotherham. There is immediate and easy access to the M1, A1(M) and M18. There are two train lines running through the area – Sheffield to Leeds and Sheffield to the East Coast. There are 10 railway stations and the Barnsley Transport Interchange within the boundary. The area is well served by buses to all three of the main centres.
The Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership area is approximately 177km2. The DVLP Area is of consistent landscape character and the vast majority is within National Character Area 38: The Nottingham, Derbyshire and Yorkshire Coalfield. This area of broadly consistent landscape character extends from Leeds to Nottingham. In addition, the south-eastern edge of the DVLP Area is within National Landscape Character Area 30: Southern Magnesian Limestone.
Why the Dearne
The need was clearly demonstrated within the Stage 1 application of the DVLP based on landscape, heritage, economic and social reasons. This need has been expanded further during the development phase to show the depth and quality of the landscape, biodiversity and heritage. The Dearne Valley has become a recognised and defined area through the considerable efforts of the three local authorities, the range of partners and the communities of the Dearne.
It is an area of opportunity. There are problems, but these are far outweighed by the depth and wealth of people, places and landscapes. The chance to “Reveal the Hidden Dearne” remains as strong as ever.
There is clear empirical evidence through demographics, research and mapping – set out in the LCAP and supporting documents. What this doesn’t necessarily show is the hard to explain qualities that the area has. It is a jigsaw – there isn’t a consistent landscape, there isn’t a consistent community, there isn’t a consistent narrative. In many ways though it is out of this lack of consistency and coherence that consistency and coherence comes. There is a strong sense of pride in the area. There is a network of community groups. There are significant numbers of visitors to the area. There are impressive landscapes and views. There is heritage in abundance. The DVLP provides the chance to enhance all this and provide cohesion and identity through working consistently in the area for five years. The DVLP can start to put some of the pieces of the jigsaw together.
The total population of the area is 185,074. There is a fairly average age profile in comparison to England and the region. There are a relatively high proportion of people of working age, compared to the outmigration of younger people and higher numbers of older people seen in many rural areas.
On several indicators, the Dearne Valley area shows higher levels of deprivation than the England or regional average. In particular, the proportion of economically inactive is higher than average and the levels of disability and poor health are significantly higher.
The largest proportion of people fall within the 30 – 40 and 45 – 59 age categories. Based on population, 63% live in Barnsley, 19% live in Doncaster and 18% live in Rotherham.
The Dearne Valley Eco-Vision (part of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership) covers a significant part of the DVLP area. It is a strategic partnership promoting a 30-year programme to transform the Dearne Valley from a landscape dominated by the industrial legacy of carbon production, to a ‘Futurescape’ supporting the lowest carbon community of its type in the UK. With regards the environment the Dearne Valley Eco-Vision aims to reconnect local people to their environment and change the perception of the valley, to make it an area local people are proud to call theirs and help reconnect people with the River Dearne. The Eco-Vision core area is at the centre of the DVLP area. Whilst this core area doesn’t cover the whole of the DVLP area it is representative of the wider area and the socio-economic issues within it.
Eco-Vision undertook a socio-economic analysis in 2010 that demonstrated how the Dearne Valley is an area of multiple deprivation, albeit enhanced by changes over the last few years. The National Index of Deprivation in 2010 shows that deprivation levels are relatively high across the Dearne Valley, with 29% of the Dearne Valley population amongst the most deprived 10% of England.
It is clear that the communities of the Dearne Valley are ones that have undergone seismic socio-economic changes as a result of the collapse of the coal industry. The coal industry and its decline not only scarred the landscape but the communities within it in terms of employment, skills, and cohesion as well as culturally and socially. In summary the main forms of deprivation affecting the Dearne Valley are:
- Health & Disability – average rank 4,885 (in top 15% nationally), 41% of SOAs are in the most deprived 10% of England.
- Employment – average rank 5,315 (in top 17% nationally), 39% of SOAs are in the most deprived 10% of England. The 2010 Indices of Deprivation show that 18.3% of working age residents were unemployed or long term sick (2008/9) which was much higher than the English average of 10.1%. Employment deprivation will have increased significantly since 2008/9 as a result of the current economic downturn.
- Education & Skills – average rank 5,500 (in top 17% nationally), 48% of SOAs are in most deprived 10% of England
The area covered by the DVLP crosses three local authority boundaries. For the entire Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham areas the Job Seekers Allowance claimant count stood at 5.1% in December 2011. For the SOAs covering just the Dearne Valley the figure was 5.4%. The figure for Yorkshire and Humber as a whole is 4.5%. For all Out of Work Benefits (JSA, IB/ESA and other income related benefits there figures are (May 2011) 16.5% and 20.6%.
The population density is 4,260 per square mile, much higher than the South Yorkshire Coalfield average of 1,686. The 2010 Indices of Multiple Deprivation score is equivalent to a national rank of 5,788, putting the Dearne Valley as a whole within the most deprived 18% of England.
Eco-Vision research has highlighted the following as the key challenges facing the core area:
- High levels of worklessness and benefit dependency, especially on Incapacity Benefit
- Risk of employment concentration in a small number of large employers in a few sectors
- Low proportion of local people employed in new industries
- Polarisation between high earning and workless people
Education & Skills
- Low level of skills in adult workforce
- Higher skilled workers commuting into the area
- Low (if rising) attainment of children & young people, especially in key subjects
- Low level of aspiration and low parental attainment
- High levels of disability and ill-health
- High proportion of working age carers
- High dependency on the car, especially for workers
- Dispersed settlement & employment locations – complex travel patterns
- Low use and awareness of public transport options, especially by workers
- High level of in-commuting by car & related parking requirement
- Older housing at lower end of market and often in poor condition
- Integrating new housing estates into existing communities
- Shortage of quality housing which could attract high income residents to live in the areas
- Potential vulnerability to housing market downturn
- Poor perception of area based on past industrial environment
- Poor quality older urban environments
- Promotion of environmental & heritage assets
- Improving the quality and diversity of the local environment