Iconic Sheffield housing estate being brought into the 21st century

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Overlooking Sheffield city centre, the iconic Park Hill housing estate is undergoing a massive transformation with millions of pounds being ploughed into its structure.

Revealed only this year were huge plans for phase two of a project to dramatically improve the horseshoe shaped block in South Street, linked to the first phase of the development by the famous ‘will u marry me’ graffiti proposal bridge.

Amongst the plans are around 200 new flats and 2,500sqm of commercial space, including offices and cafes, once completed.

Work on the site is expected to begin by the end of this year, and, if all goes to plan, it should be finished by the end of 2019.

The first phase saw the most northerly block, closest to the roundabout, stripped right back to the concrete frame, with bold colours applied to the facade to make a statement that the landmark’s transformation was underway.

Mark Latham, regeneration director at Urban Splash, said it was applying a ‘lighter touch’ this time around, keeping the original brickwork and opting for a softer colour palette.

The £22m-25m second phase will include 54 parking spaces and a private garden for people living and working on the estate.

There will be a greater proportion of three-bedroom flats than in phase one but no affordable housing this time around.

A spokesman for architects and designers Hawkins/Brown which has been working in partnership with Urban Splash, said: “Years of under-investment left the infamous Park Hill estate in a state of decline, compelling English Heritage to award it Grade II listed status.

“The challenge for Sheffield Council was how to regenerate a notoriously neglected estate on the outskirts of the city into a place people wanted to live in.

“An identity overhaul was desperately needed in a climate of declining public investment.

“The response was to launch a developer-led design competition, to seek out a team who would invest both financially and emotionally into the regeneration of the estate.”

He continued: “Our winning vision recognised the need to reconnect Park Hill to Sheffield at the same time as turning it into a destination in its own right.

“The apartments have been given a thorough face-lift and remodelled to 21st-century standards.”

Mark added: “We believe we’ve made a great start, with 600 people living and working here now, and the next phase is really exciting,” he added.

It is more than 12 years since Urban Splash won a competition to redevelop the estate, and 11 years since outline planning permission for the project was granted. But having been held up by the recession, Mark insisted the project was now ‘full steam ahead’. The first phase of 260 flats was completed last spring and all the flats there have now been sold, while detailed proposals for the student block containing around 330 apartments are set to be revealed shortly.

S1 Artspace is currently bidding for funding to turn the Duke Street wing into a £21m new arts and cultural centre, and more homes are planned for the fifth and final block, with Urban Splash aiming to complete the entire project by 2022.

The radical Park Hill was built in the late 50s and early 60s by the Corporation of Sheffield, now Sheffield Council, and is the largest listed building in Europe.

Mark claimed changing people’s perceptions of the iconic building had proved one of the biggest challenges, but he said visitors who made the short walk up from Sheffield were usually pleasantly surprised by the ‘really lovely stuff happening’ and the ‘massive potential’.