Group wins planning permission for £500,000 art studios refurbishment

Exchange Place Studios in 2013, before the artists moved in
Exchange Place Studios in 2013, before the artists moved in

A £500,000 revamp of a studio complex that houses more than 80 artists in Sheffield city centre has been given the green light.

Yorkshire Artspace has gained planning permission from the council to refurbish Exchange Place Studios, behind the old Castle Market site.

Kate Dore, director of Yorkshire Artspace, on the roof of Exchange Place Studios. Picture: Chris Etchells

Kate Dore, director of Yorkshire Artspace, on the roof of Exchange Place Studios. Picture: Chris Etchells

The work will involve restoring the Art Deco building's facade, as well as improving the two public exhibition spaces. A replacement roof will also be installed along with new skylights and windows.

Last year the organisation was awarded half a million pounds by Arts Council England to pay for the work. Sheffield Council has already granted the group a 100-year lease.

The project is expected to get under way in spring, and should be completed by the end of this year.

Kate Dore, the group's director, previously said the work would mean 'an end to leaks, warmer studios and a place that’s generally cheaper to run’.

Hambleden House, as Exchange Place Studios was originally known in the 1960s before the redevelopment by SYPTE

Hambleden House, as Exchange Place Studios was originally known in the 1960s before the redevelopment by SYPTE

The 1960s single-framed windows are being swapped for newer versions and elements of the original 1920s glazing scheme will be reinstated in a fresh design. The building’s facade - covered with tiles made from faience, a material once popular for its soot-resistant properties - is to be preserved too, with the repair of cracks and gentle cleaning. Measures will be put in place for wheelchair users to access the place out of hours and the corridors and stairwells will benefit from being brightened up.

Built in 1926 and once used as a depot for WH Smith, the six-storey property was originally known as Hambleden House, and underwent a major refurbishment 50 years ago to provide offices and public spaces for the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive. In 2013, Yorkshire Artspace signed an initial five-year licence to occupy the building.

Yorkshire Artspace started in Sidney Works on Matilda Street. In 2001 the operation moved to Persistence Works, an award-winning £4.25 million complex on Brown Street in the heart of the Cultural Industries Quarter, which now offers workspaces for 70 artists. The building was joined in 2010 by Manor Oaks Studios.

Exchange Place is home to 83 artists and makers, from painters and printers to jewellers and woodworkers. It is hoped the creative activity there could help spur on a wider regeneration of the Castlegate area.

Artist Sam Bryan at Exchange Place Studios. Picture: Chris Etchells

Artist Sam Bryan at Exchange Place Studios. Picture: Chris Etchells