Question mark hangs over start of next Park Hill work

SEE GUZELIAN STORY BY MARK BRANAGAN''The once notorious Park Hill flats, Sheffield - Europe's biggest listed building - where show apartments open to he public for the first time this Saturday (8 October 2011) following a �146m redevelopment by Urban Splash.'The refurbished exterior features new anodised aluminium panels that sparkle when the sun shines. A further 800 apartments still remain to be redeveloped in the huge complex.

SEE GUZELIAN STORY BY MARK BRANAGAN''The once notorious Park Hill flats, Sheffield - Europe's biggest listed building - where show apartments open to he public for the first time this Saturday (8 October 2011) following a �146m redevelopment by Urban Splash.'The refurbished exterior features new anodised aluminium panels that sparkle when the sun shines. A further 800 apartments still remain to be redeveloped in the huge complex.

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The prospect of a further delay in the redevelopment of Sheffield’s Park Hill flats was on the horizon this week as the developer tasked with the work said it cannot confirm when it will start the next phase of the project.

Nearly two thirds of flats have now been sold in the first stage of the refurbishment, the company Urban Splash has said.

But the development firm says it can ‘give no information’ on when it plans to press ahead with work on the next four phases of the regeneration.

Fifty out of 78 properties have sold, which the company says is ‘encouraging news’ at a time when the housing market remains sluggish.

However, the pace of sales has slowed in recent months, with 40 of the sales at Park Hill coming in the first year after properties went on sale in October 2011.

Only 10 more sales have been completed since then, although the company said ‘several’ more flats are under offer and that transactions are now picking up again.

A spokesman for Urban Splash said: “The first flank is now two thirds full and the remaining flats are being sold at a rate of three a month, along with an additional steady flow of enquiries.

“This presents a healthy position for the redevelopment. Two companies have moved into the commercial space; creative agency Über having taken a total of 3,963 square feet for its 28 staff and design agency Human Studio taking 1,103 sq ft.”

But he added: “We have no information about dates for the next phases of the redevelopment project.”

The £160 million project, which includes £40m of public money, has been dogged by delays. When work started in 2008, it was envisaged the entire project would be completed by 2014/15. Residents were meant to start moving into the first section in 2010 - but were able to get their keys only at the start of this year.

However, the first residents to move in have been enthusiastic about their new homes.

Catherine Fletcher, a history lecturer at Sheffield University, said: “I’m enjoying it very much. I like the flat, it’s well-designed, and handy being five minutes from the station and 20 minutes from work. I work in public history, although my area is the 16th century, so I have an interest in heritage and it’s appropriate I’m living in a listed building.”

Greg Clark, joint managing director at Über, said: “We are delighted to have moved into our new office at Park Hill and we are looking forward to being part of the community.”

Social housing tenants are being let 26 flats at the Grade II*-listed complex by Great Places Housing Association.

The rest of the first 78 apartments to be completed are available to buy through shared ownership and private sale. Last year it emerged that a consultancy business was being paid £113 an hour from public funds to ‘ensure value for money’ in the redevelopment.