A Little Goes A Long Way
As a brand new low carbon, sustainable housing development in Kelham Island is unveiled, we ask if Little Kelham will be the missing piece in the Kelham Island jigsaw…
Kelham Island has been ‘on the up’ for a long time now. It was nigh on 15 years ago that the Cornish Place development completed and I remember nearly buying a flat in Brooklyn Works back in 2005 but deciding against it because I just wasn’t sure how the area would progress.
And while a number of sporadic developments have been unveiled since then, it’s only now, with the launch of Little Kelham on a stretch of land that runs from Green Lane Works in the west to the start of Alma Street in the east, that the area looks set to become truly greater than the sum of its parts.
Citu, the developers behind the award-winning Greenhouse development in Leeds, are responsible for turning this huge site into a brand new community and they plan to do so with 150×1-4 bedroom homes plus a variety of creative spaces, shops, cafes and galleries. The initial phase of the development launches this month with the first buyers expected to move in by Spring next year. The whole development should be complete within three years.
And given its prime position in Kelham Island and the hugely positive early feedback on the scheme, there is a feeling that this could be the most significant thing to happen to the area since Cornish Place opened in 1998.
I met Howard Wade for a coffee at his award-winning café (Eat Sheffield crowned them winners of their Café Culture award earlier this year), The Grind. He also runs Cactus Properties and manages a number of properties in the area, so knows his studio flats from his penthouse apartments. He’s a big fan of what’s happening in the area, particularly the Little Kelham scheme.
“I think it’s a fantastic concept and I’ve no doubt Little Kelham will become the heart of Kelham Island” he said.
“You’ve got the Dunfields development (a series of high spec 4 and 5 bed houses close by) opening next year and Little Kelham soon after which I think will create a ripple effect outwards. Amenities will follow such as nurseries and hairdressers – so it’s a very exciting time for the area.
“I think other big developers will follow suit as there are so many opportunities around here – what’s crucial is that they too are sympathetic to the area and are not just put up to make a quick buck.”
Although not involved in the scheme directly, Howard is clearly a huge advocate – but for more detail on the scheme I take the short walk over the road to the Little Kelham sales office to meet Aisling Ramshaw, Head of Sales and Lettings at Citu and Nadia Jagiellowicz, who has just been brought on board as the scheme’s sales negotiator.
And even just walking into their office it hits you that this is no ordinary development. The office is full of character and housed alongside a working bakery, so you can grab a loaf of granary while you have a look at your prospective new home. Aisling is quick to show me Hidden Kelham, their neat little guidebook to the area which is certainly much more than a sales brochure.
The next thing that hits you is just how vast the site is. There’s a huge window in the sales office overlooking the JCBs as they dig out the foundations – and while it’s hard to picture these kinds of things before they are completed – you get a sense that they aren’t just building some houses, but creating a real community.
Which is not surprising as creating that sense of community is one of the three pillars of Citu – alongside design and sustainability.
Aisling explains more.
“First of all the development will be sustainable,” she says. “At Greenhouse in Leeds we use solar panels and rainwater for flushing toilets – so similar systems will be in place here. We’re also installing the Passive Haus system; a super insulated, timber frame construction to ensure efficient temperature regulation. It should mean that the houses don’t need heating at all.”
In terms of design, they are also innovative, using landscaping such as trees and benches and as natural traffic calming, then there’s things like not having any yellow lines – which makes drivers feel like they aren’t on a road and so drive much slower and safer.
15 plots will be available in the first phase – 3×1 bed homes, 6x3bed courtyard homes and 6×3/4 bed garden homes. It demonstrates already the mix of housing that will be available across the whole development – each one individually designed so you don’t feel like you are just buying a box much like the house next door.
“The site already had planning permission for 300 flats – and we’re building half that. And that’s because we want a mix of housing that attracts a diverse mix of ages – our enquiries so far reflect that,” explains Aisling.
“We’ve already found out that the community here is very strong – that’s really important to us – we just want to add to it.”
To do that they will not only have the mix of housing but important local amenities such as gyms, shops, cafes and galleries as well as office spaces, a hotel and a nursery. And unlike some developers, when they say how important the community is, you believe them.
Nadia tells me that the enquiries they have had so far not only reflect that diversity but also how the housing market is back on the up.
“We’ve had 700 people register with us already and the phone is ringing every day,” she tells me.
“People are really responding to the idea of saving energy, saving money and saving the planet – as well as that old fashioned sense of community,” she adds.
Former teacher Amy Farry lives and works in Kelham Island, running her own PR and marketing company Ginger Ink. After my chat with Nadia and Aisling, I head back to The Grind to see how she feels about the coming development,
Having grown up in a Lincolnshire village, she’s only too aware of how that sense of community is vital to the feeling you get about where you live. So much so that she’s help set up the local WI – and she thinks it’s this sense of community that makes Kelham Island so special.
“Since I moved in here – loads of great places have opened; The Grind, Brooklyn Burger Company, The Nichols Building while the pubs and The Milestone go from strength to strength. And coming from a village I’m used to going out and knowing you’ll bump into people you’ll know – and you get that here as well. It’s fantastic to live in a big city but also feel part of the community.
“And you only have to look at how quickly property comes off the market here to realise how popular it is,” she added.
Like a number of people renting in the area, Amy says she is keen to buy – and Little Kelham is very appealing. Only time will tell if Little Kelham really is the missing piece in the Kelham Island jigsaw – but the early buzz certainly suggests it could well be.
Prices start at £115,000 for a one bedroom house. Head here to find our more details.
Words: Phil Turner