The next stages of work to redevelop Sheffield’s Park Hill estate will start in earnest before Christmas, the firm behind the scheme has said.
Initial preparations for phases two and three of the revamp – which started in 2007 – are already under way, while proper renovation work is imminent, Urban Splash confirmed.
Taken together, the redeveloped blocks will bring another 200 residential homes and 330 student flats, alongside 130,000 sq ft of commercial space.
Phase one of Park Hill’s revival is complete and fully occupied with over 600 people living and working there. Urban Splash has teamed up with accommodation provider Alumno on the student apartments.
Tom Bloxham, Urban Splash’s chairman, said the subsequent stages would be ‘double the size of phase one’.
"They're starting at exactly the same time,” he said. “It’s really exciting and will see the continued regeneration of Park Hill.”
Architects Mikhail Riches won the competition to design the £30 million second stage, which will retain more of the original structure’s fabric than phase one. The 200 homes on South Street will connect to the first revamped block via the bridge with graffiti reading ‘I Love You Will U Marry Me’. The student flats, costing £20 million and designed by Whittam Cox Architects, are to be created in a roughly J-shaped block in the middle of the site, and will be ready by 2020.
A planning application for the fourth stage - primarily a gallery and studios for the S1 Artspace group - will be submitted next year and the fifth phase, focusing on the four-storey block at the far end of South Street, will probably be more housing.
“This is over £100 million of investment we’ll have made into Sheffield city centre and Park Hill over the years,” said Mr Bloxham. “There’s real progress coming. In the same way we helped to create the Northern Quarter in Manchester, so at Park Hill we want to turn it into the mid century modern quarter of Sheffield, a really cool area."
The announcement coincides with the launch of an exhibition at the estate’s old Scottish Queen pub. The show is called It Will Never Work – a title described by Mr Bloxham as a ‘provocation’ – and marks 25 years of Urban Splash projects.
"I suppose it’s very appropriate it’s in Park Hill, because to a lot of people it’s like Marmite – they either love it or hate it," said Mr Bloxham.
"I think when we started, most people thought it was a concrete slum with no future, and we were fools to take it on. There was certainly a big perception politically and with a number of very significant individuals, who went on record saying it wouldn’t work. But we believe it is working, phase one has worked, and we are really enjoying the challenge and privilege of creating a whole new quarter in Sheffield."
The exhibition visited Liverpool, London, Manchester and Birmingham before coming to Sheffield. It features lightbox installations, images of past schemes and paraphernalia covering two-and-a-half decades.
"We’ve been really pleased with how well it’s been received," said Mr Bloxham. "I think there were 500 people at the opening in Manchester, and it was sold out in London, so hopefully we’ll get a good turnout in Sheffield as well."
The show spans around 70 schemes, representing more than £1 billion worth of development, 5,000 homes and two million sq ft of commercial space.
Park Hill, the Grade II* listed Brutalist landmark put up in 1961 as a bold social housing experiment with famous ‘streets in the sky’, is a highlight 'just for the sheer scale of it', said Mr Bloxham. Last week the estate was added to Historic England's latest Heritage at Risk register, allowing more funding opportunities to be explored to protect the site's future.
The exhibition tells 'a story of a change in our cities', said Mr Bloxham, who founded Urban Splash with Jonathan Falkingham. Both have been made MBEs.
"The Sheffield of 25 years ago is very different from the Sheffield of today. We’ve seen the definition of the word urban change to what’s quite a positive word in most people’s minds. We've also seen the change in politics, from the flight from cities to the revitalisation of cities as an important driver of economic growth."
It Will Never Work is at the old Scottish Queen pub at Park Hill from next Thursday, November 21, to December 3, 11am to 4pm. Closed Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.