“A destination for the city” – Urban Splash Development Manager on Park Hill Future
With Phase 1 of the Park Hill development complete and Phase 2 scheduled to finish by the end of this year, we spoke to Urban Splash Development Manager Greg Ball for an update on plans for the iconic structure and its surrounding area.
How have you found taking on the challenge of redeveloping a Sheffield icon?
There is huge public interest in Park Hill, not just for local residents but for anyone that loves Sheffield, which means a responsibility to ensure the regeneration achieves tangible socio-economic benefits for the local area, protects Park Hill’s legacy long into the future and that we restore this iconic Grade II* listed structure as sensitively as possible. There are huge challenges adapting an existing heritage structure to accommodate contemporary living spaces. However, we are meeting the challenge head on with a really talented team, many of whom have been working on this project since we started so know the place and understand the issues.
Where are we at with the development as things stand?
So, the redevelopment of Park Hill is being delivered by a joint-venture partnership between Urban Splash and Places for People. To start at the beginning, Phase 1 of Park Hill is complete and includes 260 homes – of which 96 are affordable homes and 28 shared equity homes on the Government Help to Buy scheme – plus 10 contemporary workspaces occupied with creative and digital businesses, the well-known WARP films, a recruitment agency, planning consultancy, wholesale gift supplier and the first café at Park Hill, South Street Kitchen, which has proved a great success with the local community. There’s also the local authority-run, purpose-built Grace Owen Nursery that has been based on-site since 1963 and relocated to their new premises in 2016. Phase 1 of the redevelopment was recognised nationally by being nominated for the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2013, which we’re naturally very proud of.
To get some sense of scale, how many people are currently living and working at Park Hill and how is that projected to grow?
Over 800 people now live and work at Park Hill. It’s a mixed community that includes affordable housing, rented and owner-occupier – from young professionals to downsizers, as well as businesses and now students. This is set to increase to a diverse community of nearly 1,500 people by late 2021.
And the remaining redevelopment of Park Hill is still split it into four phases – Phases 2 to 5?
Yes, architects Mikhail Riches were appointed to undertake the new designs for Phase 2 and it is due to complete in late 2021. It provides a further 195 homes that include 2 bedroom townhouses as well as 1, 2 and 3 bed apartments, plus20,000 sq. ft of mixed-use commercial space for a variety of workspaces – as well as a new café, restaurant and terrace. The first release of apartments went on sale 29 February 2020 and 44 homes were sold in the first five months. Homes in Phase 2 continue to be released, with visits being done under covid restrictions and online.
Phase 1 of Park Hill is complete and includes 260 homes – of which 96 are affordable homes and 28 shared equity homes on the Government Help to Buy scheme – plus 10 contemporary workspaces occupied with creative and digital businesses.
Phase 3 is student accommodation with the block being configured into 4 and 8 bed townhouses, 2 and 4 bed apartments and classic studios for 356 students. The development partner is the Alumno Group and Places for People who have named it Béton House.
When university life returns to some form of normality, what are you hoping that a student population will bring to Park Hill?
Students add to the generational mix and also bring with them ideas and enthusiasm, which is already being felt. Whilst their numbers are obviously smaller than would be in normal times, they are still very active. Park Hill Residents Association has invited to take them on tours, we know how much they enjoy using South Street Kitchen, there will be hopefully be collaboration on events when they return, and feedback so far is that they like the location and access. Importantly they add to the critical mass at Park Hill and also encourage more cafes, bars and restaurants to open that can be used by locals and visitors as well.
It says that Phase 4 and 5 will include provision for the already established S1 Artspace. Could you tell us a bit about that?
S1 Artspace had been based at the Scottish Queen on South Street for three years and moved into an interim home in the former Park Hill garage space in the heart of Park Hill in 2018. The garage has been converted into studios, admin offices and gallery space.
S1 is working together with Urban Splash and other partners on plans to develop part of the Duke Street block into a major new art gallery and artist studios called Park Hill Art Space, providing a nationally significant arts and cultural centre for the city at Park Hill. Alongside this there are plans for further residential housing on the upper floors.
What are the fundamental factors in building a strong mixed community around the area?
The vision for Park Hill was always to recreate the same strong sense of community it enjoyed when the scheme was first populated in the early 1960s.To achieve this, we want to attract a diverse range of people to live and work at Park Hill; it’s important to provide for existing local residents but also attract new people to the area. We don’t want Park Hill to turn its back on anyone; we want to provide a place for all generations, cultures and background to enjoy.
We are delivering beautiful landscaped gardens for the community to gather and more amenities for the residents to enjoy. We’ve just added new urban street furniture and play pieces to the sculpture plinths – a collaboration with Sheffield-based company Create Partnerships. The café and nursery really add to this and with the businesses and convenience store on the horizon it means there will be much more coming and going.
The return of S1 Artspace with their rolling exhibition programme (hopefully back soon, restrictions allowing) and with artist studios on the site we’ll have so many more people from the wider Sheffield community and beyond visiting Park Hill. These elements all add to building a community and then of course there is the resident community itself.
There is a Park Hill Residents Association (PHRA) who help to arrange plenty of activities and events for the community, so we’re regularly in contact with them. We wanted this side of the city to become an integral part of the wider city centre and we believe it has – not only becoming a nicer and safer place to be, but it’s also become somewhat of a destination and asset to the city. We hope that this can continue.
How would you like Park Hill to be seen in five years’ time?
As an example of how challenging heritage assets can be regenerated to provide vital high-quality homes and workspaces. We also want Park Hill to be home to a thriving community who genuinely enjoy living and working here, a destination for the city, and to be part of more major events and festivals. We want the people who live and work there to continue to reflect the vibrant multi-cultural mix of the city, plus more community amenities with cafes, bars and shops alongside an evolving business hub representing the best of Sheffield’s entrepreneurial spirit. There’s also the opportunity to play a part in adding significant value to the cultural credentials of Sheffield with Park Hill Artspace. That’s a good mix of goals there, I think.
For more information on Phase 2 of Park Hill, head to urbansplash.co.uk/park-hill.