New vision for artwork on former towers site

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Plans to build a multi-million pound piece of artwork on the site of the demolished Tinsley Towers in Sheffield have been abandoned - with a ‘new vision’ for a less costly project being created instead.

This weekend marks five years since the landmark cooling towers, which stood beside the M1 at Tinsley, were knocked down.

In their place will stand a new £120m biomass plant run by energy firm E.ON, which was intended to be accompanied with a large-scale, £4m public artwork.

But Coun Isobel Bowler, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure, said ‘the vision of 2008 seems a world away’.

“We cannot hope to raise the multi-millions needed to create a large scheme - nor do I think people in Sheffield would want us to use our limited resources in this way in the present difficult financial times,” she said.

“But smaller can still be beautiful, and we are working to commission the right artist to create an important work.”

Among the reasons for the rethink are the difficult financial climate, limited funds available for art projects and the physical vision for the area.

The biomass plant will be completed next year, linked to an extensive district heating network. There is to be a new link road to relieve congestion, extensive flood defence works and potential of a new tram- train link.

The scheme on the towers site is one of two artworks set to be built by the motorway. The Man of Steel, a 30-metre statue, is planned to sit on the Rotherham side of the M1, on a hill in Kimberworth.

The council says the proposed route of High Speed Two runs through the area, with a possible station at Meadowhall.

The revised, community-based artwork will be funded by E.ON, which has already committed £500,000 to the project.

Instead of seeking extra money, the existing cash will be used to fully fund the piece, which will reflect Sheffield’s industrial heritage, as well as sustainable energy and advanced manufacturing.

Coun Bowler added: “We have been talking with E.ON and have agreed that we should use their 500k to fully fund a local project which is more in keeping with 2013.

“We want to create a meaningful work of art - one that is made by the people of Sheffield and which will have relevance for people in the city.

“This remains a significant project for Tinsley and for Sheffield.”

It is anticipated that a design brief will go out by the end of the year, with a view for the artwork to be in place in 2015, to coincide with the completion of the new link road.

Stephen Marsh, senior business development manager at E.ON, said the project reinforced the company’s investment in Sheffield.