In praise of the Park Hill ‘palace’

Tom Blham of Urban Splash (right) at Park Hill with Nick Butler, chief executive of Connect Gazelles

Tom Blham of Urban Splash (right) at Park Hill with Nick Butler, chief executive of Connect Gazelles

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URBAN Splash founder Tom Bloxham described Park Hill flats as ‘Sheffield’s Buckingham Palace or Gherkin building’ on a visit to the city.

Mr Bloxham said: “Sheffield is a great city with a great heritage and Park Hill is one of its greatest assets; it defines the city.

“As the largest Grade II listed building in Europe and an important landmark, it’s an iconic building - Sheffield’s Buckingham Palace or Gherkin building – the city should be very proud of it.

“Years ago people were pulling down Victorian villas and demolishing Victorian mills – we believe in celebrating and conserving this heritage, putting right the wrongs, preserving the good and bringing them up to date.

“We are breathing new life into Park Hill, repopulating it and introducing shops, restaurants, coffee shops, gardens and galleries to make it a vibrant community for this century.

“When it was built in the 1950s it provided a real community and was amazing – it’s time to do it again.”

Mr Bloxham was speaking at a Sheffield meeting of the business support group Connect Gazelles, and said today’s economic climate presents great opportunities for local companies.

Having launched Urban Splash during the recession of the late 80s and early 90s, he added: “Now is a great time to set up in business. There are always opportunities.

“However, I believe it’s vital that business people have a big idea, a big vision plus great attention to detail. And, of course, work hard – perseverance is critical regardless of any setbacks.’’

One Connect Gazelles member at the meeting was Mark McGrail of carbon footprint experts Scrap Metal Exchange, whose family had three generations living at Park Hill.

Mr McGrail’s grandparents, Edith and Ernest, were among the first residents when it was built in the 1950s, his parents lived there and sister lives there now. He said: “Park Hill was an amazing and happy community. It’s exciting seeing what Urban Splash is doing and very satisfying that this special building with all its memories is being preserved and revitalised for the generations to come.’’

It was revealed last week that 18 of the 52 refurbished flats currently available to buy have been reserved. Contracts have been exchanged on five properties and a further 25 flats are in the process of being allocated to social housing tenants.

The £146million project to revamp all 870 flats includes £30.8million of public money.