20 by 2020: The at-risk buildings Sheffield has a year to save

The top 20 Sheffield buildings most at risk of being lost forever have been pinpointed in the hope every one can be saved by 2020.

Seven historic metalworking sites, two former pubs, three old churches and a disused courthouse have all made a list compiled by Sheffield City Council.

Conservation officer Zoe Mair at the Farfield Inn, one of the buildings featured in a council-backed drive to save 20 at risk Sheffield buildings by 2020. Picture: Scott Merrylees

Conservation officer Zoe Mair at the Farfield Inn, one of the buildings featured in a council-backed drive to save 20 at risk Sheffield buildings by 2020. Picture: Scott Merrylees

It is hoped that most, if not all, of the places identified could be converted into homes, addressing an acute shortage of housing nationally.

The '20 by 20' list was the idea of Zoe Mair and Ruth Connelly, the council's two conservation officers. Zoe says the initiative was sparked by the number of cranes visible on the city skyline as post-recession construction schemes take shape.

"There does seem to be a bit of a building boom in the city," says Zoe. "We just thought if we can maybe attach a few buildings at risk to this boom, we might get some good results."

The first local register of buildings at risk was published in 2001, she explains. "Nearly 20 years ago we had 97 entries. Over this time we've managed to remove all but 30, and we think 20 of them are suitable for residential conversion. And with residential being a key issue for the city, we feel it's time to try and get these buildings restored and in use."

The Ball, Darnall Road.

The Ball, Darnall Road.

Of the 20, the Grade II* listed Loxley Chapel is in dire need of rescuing, she says. Built in 1787, it has slid into a state of dereliction since closing in 1993 and went up in flames in 2016.

"It's very poor," says Zoe. "The building is still standing, it's just not got a roof and it's lost its interior. But it could be converted to a residential unit. I think that's a key one."

Old Hall Farm, in the hamlet of Brightholmlee near Wharncliffe Side, is another important Grade II* listed structure that could be lost, she adds. Dating back to the 15th century, the timber-framed property was originally a cruck barn. It went on the market in 2015 and has planning permission to be turned into six homes.

Meanwhile Zoe would 'like to see something done' with North Yard and Don Cutlery Works, two Grade II listed metal trades buildings on Well Meadow Street and Doncaster Street respectively. "They're quite good," she says.

Kutrite Works, Snow Lane.

Kutrite Works, Snow Lane.

The former tribunal court on East Parade, close to the Anglican cathedral in the city centre, was brought to the conservation officers' attention only recently. "It's empty and it's just been sold," says Zoe. Employment tribunals have been heard in Sheffield at the Combined Court Centre on West Bar since July 2017.  

Some are less pressing cases, Zoe admits, such as the rear of Beehive Works, a Grade II* listed metalworking factory on Milton Street. "That's likely to have some grant aid from Historic England, so that might be one we can get off quite quickly."

Beehive Works stands next to Eye Witness Works, a similar site that is being transformed by Manchester firm Capital & Centric into a £25 million complex of 100 apartments.

The list will evolve, Zoe says. "Some of the buildings where there are current approvals, somebody might start work on them next week. We will have to make sure we keep the list up to date."

Former Tribunal Court, East Parade.

Former Tribunal Court, East Parade.

The council has been quite selective in its approach. While some might expect Sheffield's crumbling Old Town Hall to be deserving of inclusion, there is a reason why it does not appear.

"The issues there are being addressed under different initiatives, working with the Friends group and so on. There's also the Salvation Army Citadel - that's another major listed building I haven't listed, because it's not an easy one to convert to residential. There will be a number that people think should be on the list, but that's why they're not."

What does she hope will happen when people see the new inventory?

"A mixture of things. We want to hear from owners, hopefully so they can come in and meet us and talk about their plans. We want to get them to work with us to get their buildings back into use."

The 20 places tell a story about the city's heritage, she says.

"The wide range of buildings is very illustrative of Sheffield's history. We've got churches, lots of metal trades buildings, houses and pubs, stately homes, large farmhouses - it's not just one sort that's at risk."

Recognisable spots saved since 2001 include the grand Head Post Office in Fitzalan Square - now Sheffield Hallam University's Institute of Arts - as well as Dial House, once home to the popular working men's club of the same name in Wisewood, and Butcher Works on Arundel Street, which lay empty for decades before becoming workshops, apartments and an organic café.

"They show what different uses we can get into these listed buildings," says Zoe. "We had a lot of complaints about Dial House at the time."

The bulk of Zoe and Ruth's work involves handling planning applications, listed building consents and conservation area designations. Do they find it fulfilling when a building is saved?

"We do in the end," says Zoe. "It's a long and hard process, but we do ultimately. It's great to see them - like Butcher Works, people living there and going for lunch and everything."

20 by 20 – the list

Name, Historic England listing, type/former use 

Former Middlewood Church, Middlewood Drive; Grade ll; Former church

Beehive Works (rear), Egerton Lane; Grade ll*; Metal trades building

Spital Hill Works, Spital Hill; Grade ll; Metal trades building

North Yard, 54 Well Meadow Street; Grade ll; Metal trades building

Don Cutlery Works, Doncaster Street; Grade ll; Metal trades building

House and stable block, Longley Lane; Grade ll; Former stable block

30 Mowbray Street; Grade ll; House

The Ball, Darnall Road; Grade ll; Pub

The Farfield Inn, Hillfoot Road, Neepsend; Grade ll; Pub

Old Hall Farm, Thorn House Lane, Brightholmlee; Grade ll*; Farm

Spout House, Spout Lane; Grade ll; House and outbuilding

Kingston Works, Malinda Street; Grade ll; Metal trades building

299 Glossop Road; Grade ll; House

Loxley Chapel, Loxley Road; Grade ll*; Former chapel

1 Haymarket; Grade ll; Office

Tapton Court, Shore Road; Grade ll; House/accommodation

Anglican Chapel, Cemetery Road; Grade ll; Former church

Countess Works, Countess Street; Grade ll; Metal trades building

Kutrite Works, Snow Lane; Grade Il; Metal trades building

Former Tribunal Court, East Parade; Grade ll; Legal building