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13 November 2014

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You are in: South Yorkshire > Places > Park Hill > Park Hill's future

Park Hill's future

Park Hill, the gritty, iconic Sheffield landmark is being redeveloped and thrown into the 21st century and building work has now began. Find out what lies in store for the flats...

Park Hill - artist's impression

June 2009

All bricks and walls have been removed from within the flats leaving an exposed concrete frame.

Concrete repair at Park Hill

Concrete repair at Park Hill

The concrete is being cleaned then tested using a 'hammer test.' Any defective bits will then be patched up and painted with coloured wash similar to the colour of the existing concrete. The building will then be waterproofed.

April 2009

After what seemed like a long time with nothing going on - and co-inciding with the Credit Crunch and the recession - there were speculations and worries about the project's funding.

Developers Urban Splash assured BBC Radio Sheffield that it was all on track though. Much of their funding comes from public bodies like Sheffield City Council and English Heritage.

Coloured panes - artist's impression

Urban Splash released an artist's impression of their plans for the exterior glazing. You can see pictures by clicking on the links to the Construction gallery. Instead of the outer walls of the flats being 1/3 glazing to 2/3 solid wall, it will be 2/3 glazing and 1/3 solid wall. Instead of coloured bricks there will be coloured panes of anodized aluminium.

March 2008

The plan is to punch through the building, removing the walls inside the flats but preserving the iconic concrete frame of the building. Building work begins on this.

December 2007

Sheffield's Park Hill flats is both a loved and hated landmark. Building work officially began on 7th December 2007 and Urban Splash, the development company responsible for thrusting Park Hill into the 21st century, say they want people to give Park Hill another chance.

Park Hill - refurbishment, April 2009

We met up with Mark Latham, Development Manager at Park Hill, who told us about what's planned where on the site. Listen to the interview by clicking on the link below.

- So what are they planning? -

Urban Splash thinks that Park Hill's success revolves around re-instilling the community which thrived so well when the flats were first built.

:: See pictures of how the estate looks now and in the past by clicking on the links on the right. Send your comments or memories via the form at the bottom

Many of the things which made the original Park Hill complex a success in its early days (greengrocer, pubs, newsagent, laundrette, community centre, hairdresser and so on) will be returned to the estate, along with restaurants, a bookies, a greasy spoon, clothes shops and record shops.

Urban Splash want to spend £130 million on revamping the estate; re-landscaping the grounds in and around the flats, and improving the parkland and pedestrian routes down to Sheffield station.

They've said they'd like allotments, private gardens, a wildflower meadow, a bowling green and a parterre garden as part of the landscaping. Much of the landscaping will be inspired by the Peak District and typical Sheffield landscapes.

Park Hill - artist's impression

Park Hill - artist's impression

An art gallery, dance studio and climbing wall are also among the expanding list of things Urban Splash have said they want in Park Hill.

- Piazza -

The idea is to create a high street through the middle of the flats (where the school used to be), linking Duke Street to South Street. They want bars, restaurants and communal gardens to spill out on to South Street and the hill behind Sheffield station, and they want to create a Rome-style piazza where people will congregate and meet their friends.

"Under the I Love U Will U Marry Me bridge, we're creating an open square area", explains Mark Latham. It'll be surrounded by bars, terraces and cafes that will look out west over Sheffield so it'll get the lovely evening sun.

"South Street will remain basically where it is now, but instead of being a long straight line from the top at Talbot Street down to the tram bridge above Park Square roundabout, we're putting gentle bends and curves in the road. It'll just wind and meander a little bit more."

- Grand entrance in the fortress -

Another major entrance area is being created at the north block (Park Square end, near the tram bridge) where a huge 'cut' will be made in the wall.

Entrance to Park Hill flats, November 2007

Entrance to Park Hill flats, November 2007

"It's currently a very mean entrance for such a big, grand entrance", says Mark. "The 'cut' in this fortress-like wall will be 10 metres wide and high and it'll create a big, welcoming invitation right into the landscaped grounds inside. It'll welcome everybody in, both physically and visually."

The developers also want to replace the current community centre with a new one, and there will be a service area where the community centre stands at the moment - on The Pavement. The service area is planned to include a health centre, supermarket, nursery and recycling centre.

Urban Splash emphasise that they don't want to 'beautify' Park Hill too much, but want to keep it raw, strong and honest.

- Station landscaping -

The area behind Sheffield station will be landscaped. A gentle sloping route will lead down to the station from the area around the Scottish Queen pub and three link bridges. Mark describes the new route:

Pathway to Park Hill flats, Sheffield, 2006

Pathway to Park Hill flats, Sheffield, 2006

"It'll be partly on raised earth banks which we want to face in natural stone, bringing a feeling of the Peak District into the park. It will also partly be on a raised bridge-like structure that will fly over the existing cobbled street that leads up from the tram lines. It will be well-lit at night, a very clear visual corridor."

- Who can live there? -

Because much of the ground floor will be taken up with shops, offices, bars and restaurants there will be less flats than there are at the moment. The total number of flats will be 874 instead of the previous 1000.

Of these, one third will be 'affordable' and dealt with by the Manchester Methodist Housing Association.

Out of that third, two thirds (which is about 200 flats) will be social rent and the remaining third (about 60 flats) will be available for shared equity purchase (more than one party buying one flat). Rents for these will be set by Manchester Methodist Housing Association, in line with other social rents across Sheffield.

Two thirds of the grand total (which is about 600 flats) will be for sale on the open market. The social rented accommodation will be dispersed throughout the flats. Urban Splash say they think this will lead to a balanced community.

There will also be service charges, and although the developers say they don't yet know how much that will be they say that social renting residents "will be able to afford the service costs. Even if we have to rob Peter to pay Paul." Whatever that means!

Park Hill flats

Park Hill flats

- Phase one -

In the developers' first phase, they will be altering the north block, building the courtyard and the service area close to where The Pavement shopping precinct stood, landscaping, and improving the pedestrian route to Sheffield station, and start work on the multi-storey car park.

They plan to keep the roofs of the lower buildings (the service area etc) landscaped and green, since so many people will be looking down on them from their flats.

The area around the station, and the new route up the hill, will be landscaped. Urban Splash hopes to release the first part of the developments to people for occupying in mid to late 2010, and while they can't put a date on the completion of the whole development, Mark Latham hopes that it will be a seven to nine year time frame, taking the developments up until 2014-5; "it depends on a lot of factors though - it's very early days to predict any sort of full completion date."

Park Hill flats, from below

- Bricks and mortar -

The long-term plan aims to develop the existing flats in one, two and three storey living spaces and they will be more open plan.

Urban Splash will retain and repair the concrete frame and the bridges, but essentially these will stay the same. The brickwork will be removed but they want to keep the coloured bandings for each deck with the use of coloured aluminium (anyone who's lived there will tell you how much easier the colour coding makes it to find your way around).

- Public access -

Currently anyone can walk around the flats and go to whichever area they please, although few people use the flats if they don't live in or nearby. In the future, the public will be encouraged to use the shops, bars and public grounds, but the 'streets in the sky' will no longer be publicly accessible - access to the decks will be restricted to those who live there. This will be controlled at ground level through a key, swipe-card or buzzer system.

Park Hill - artist's impression

Park Hill - artist's impression

In the past, a police station existed on-site but this will be disbanded.

- Eco-friendly -

Urban Splash says that the EcoHome Standard is part of their funding agreement. They say that the insulation, ventilation and natural lighting plans they have for the flats will mean the flats perform better than they currently do. They will also be re-using some of the old bricks in the landscaping work.

- What do you think? -

So it all sounds very promising, but tell us what you think of the proposals via the form at the bottom of the page.

:: We'd also like to hear your memories of Park Hill - whether you lived there, worked there, went to school, or just observed it from afar.

:: And we'd like to add your old photos to our gallery. Photos taken indoors or outdoors, during Park Hill events or just round and about the flats. Email them to

Park Hill - artist's impression

Park Hill - artist's impression

- To date -

:: June 2009...

  • Scaffolding has been erected on Phase One (the three flanks at the north end of the flats)
  • Hammer Tests on the concrete have begun, followed by repairs and patching of the concrete in a carefully chosen colour
  • A colour has been chosen for repainting the bannisters in the public stairwells
  • Test glazing has been erected near the site of the old Scottish Queen pub. Instead of one third glazing and two thirds solid wall, the developers plan to reverse this ratio. They will also use anodized aluminium instead of coloured brick.
  • Bricks from the interior of the flats are being sorted into piles according to their colours. Waste material from the internal walls have been ground down to be used as low-grade aggregate to landscape the area and to fill beneath paving and walkways.
  • December 2007: Building work officially began. March 2008: work began to remove interior walls and leave the exposed concrete frame.
  • South Street has been closed to the public, from around the Scottish Queen pub area to the bottom of Park Square roundabout
  • Fencing has gone up around much of the area, including a large stretch on Duke Street
  • Approx 100 residents are left in the flats (at the top end by Talbot Street). Other residents have been moved to various council estates around Sheffield. About 200 residents plan to move back.
  • Park Hill primary school has been knocked down
  • A 'soft-strip' has been taking place, starting at the north block (Park Square end). This is to remove leftover furnishings, carpets, cupboards etc
  • Once the flats have been soft-stripped, they are handed over to contractors to start on the 'hard-strip'. Flooring, doors, wall coverings etc are removed in this phase
  • Park Hill Tenants and Residents Association, led by Jackie Bailey, has regular meetings in the community centre with Urban Splash. To get involved, contact Jackie at Sheffield Homes: 0114 2738613
  • Urban Splash has held presentations in Park Hill's community centre to explain to residents and interested members of the public what stage the plans are at. The latest planning applications (for Phase One) have been submitted to Sheffield City Council
  • Urban Splash are currently predicting that Phase One will take about three years. Phase Two will start as soon as they have sold a certain number of properties
  • According to Urban Splash and Sheffield City Council, a certain number of the flats are protected for local buyers and while they need investors to buy flats, there is a restriction on how many flats can be sold to investors

last updated: 19/06/2009 at 15:11
created: 30/05/2007

Have Your Say

What do you think of the new ideas for Park Hill? Have you got any memories of the flats in the past? Will the new Park Hill be a nicer place to be?

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

i have been on and off park hill flats all my life as my family live there and always have as long as i can remember who by the way arent drug users i know many ppl on there that aint drug users and for those that are thats their choice, you will find majority of ppl on park hill flats are extremely friendly and wont do u any harm as long as you dont do them any. to be fair there is a run down part of every estate that is housed by drug users and all other kinds of social life where ever u live. so why so many ppl think that they are surrounded by better walks of life than park hill and no doubt that someone in everyones family has a habit of some kind of drug use/violence so stop makin out that you are so perfect.

daniel pakes the park hill owl
how can all u ppl say im on drugs iv lived on here all my life and im 21 now iv neva used drugs

So where is the more suitable place for tramps?I think the project will be good, as long as the developers don't cut corners! Such a big peace of Sheffield’s landscape needs to be a work of art. We have had some fantastic architecture recently (most of which seem to be university buildings), lets not spoil it by going cheap on this project as I suspect the Sheffield council wants!Yes we are in a credit crunch, but buildings are for life and not just for when Bankers have their sticky fingers burnt by being too greedy.
what was wrong with the combination of concrete and brick in the original design?

Morman mamoosi
I cant wait for the end product. it will be fantstic. i just hope they move the tramps to a more suitable place

Blow them up!!

Dave Sheffield
Quote "social renting residents "will be able to afford the service costs. Even if we have to rob Peter to pay Paul." Whatever that means!" I can tell you what that means- anyone stupid enough to be a private buyer will be paying a premium to fund their non-private neighbours. Hasn't Sheffield learnt anything from its social engineering past? And if these will be such great places to live, make the architects, planners and developers live there in a standard average flat for 10 years. Mix in a few councillors and English Heritage and then you would have the right mix to understand why this eyesore should be demolished. I suspect leaving out the police station is a bit foresighted too.

I think it is a good idea to refurbish the flats so long as the surrounding area is given a makeover too! The needs of the people in that area need to be considered as you cannot just turn Park Hill flats into a Yuppie community in the flash of a wand. The area has had many problems with crime, drugs and gangs for many years and you cannot just wipe that out with a "new look" building. I am all for redevelopment rather than demolition but lots of thought needs to go into the whole area and the people who have resided there every day for years and years. The crime problem is not going to be swept under the carpet so I think there should be Police involvement and the setting up of local community groups. You usually find that people within their own community are stronger than any other force but I would recommend a Police presence in the area to protect the rights of everyone, old and new to the area. I think it would give a sense of security to those who live there now who know and live with the problems and for those thinking of buying or moving there who know the history and will expect a better standard of living than that that has existed in Park Hill in the past.Good luck with the project I hope it works out well for everyone. Investment of any kind is great for Sheffield. I have lived here all my life and I love it. It's a great friendly place. All cities of our size have their problems but I think Sheffield is one of the friendliest places I've ever been.

itll be a hole whatever they do to it. it will always have the same reputation, no point in changing it - just knock it down and leave it and just make a new bowling ally or something useful. that would make more sense.

chris stone
In modern world, moderm man, is a complicated creature. will he? could he? ever! live in peace and create harmony? these question plague my conciousness and i must say these flats are good. x

I live in sheffield, i hate them but when i become a uni student if they are better then i would consider renting one

Since park hill flats are one of the first things you see when coming into Sheffield I think it's important that they look better, simply to give a good first impression.That area could be nice, but given the surrounding area and people that live there it will be difficult to attract the right kind of people to live there. I have a friend who used to live on the new development on the manor. The same problem exists there, he moved out as soon as the lease was up due to the high volume of crime and car vandalism. Its a case of having a nice flat in a bad area.

The Places Looks Great.

the appearance of the flats is not the problem, its the people they put in them.

Reading through the comments tonight I think most people are right in different ways and I respect all the arguments surrounding the debate as I too have lived in Sheffield all my life. You see it is all well and good giving Park Hill a face lift but what about the surrounding area? Are the council or the people investing so much in this new development going to help the surrounding area also? Or are they simply going to be living in the shadow of this giant once again? Maybe they should have done to Park Hill what they have just done to the Tinsley Towers and have done with the matter!

Debbie 46
I moved to Sheffield in Jan 08 and at first sight of Park Hill i was interested to know all the history of this site which dates way back and is very interesting - the regeneration of the town is brill and if they pull off all that is promised for this area it will be a really lovely city to live in. Out with the old and in with the new i say - as estates people change so do behaviour pattens. if the area is cleaned up it will be appreciated and im sure looked after - i would keep the police station there though (just in case)! Make the affordable rents for those that would take care of their homes and areas and ship those out that wont and those that do not appreciate or understand how to live nicely. As to gangs and druggies and car crime, oh come on please, every city has them lets try and educate them instead of name calling.

Sarah Murphy
Would anyone who has lived in Park Hill at some point be willing to talk to me about it? Doing a project about Park Hill and the Urban Splash plans. Any help would be fantastic!!

What a waste of time and money. Is no one here clever enough to realise that they are just rebuilding the crime ridden, dirty eyesore that is already there!? and I should know - I've lived next to Park Hill for 30yrs!! I drive past it every day and witness the gangs of youths up to no good that seem to be taking over the Talbot street side. Don't waste the time and money - knock it down - make it greenland and save Sheffield from the towerblock ridden city it's becoming. Listen to the people who live in Sheffield - it's our city not some developer trying to make money.

Linda dodworth
what has happen to the man neal who use to run the newsagents on the pavement parkhiill in 1995 i remeber the newsagents but were his he now i neen to no he was a good man thankyou.

dean mcneil
the flsts are mint i love them the only problem is drug uses

i used to have a flat on park hill in 1983-1984 it was on the stairwell and was number 1 long henry row.i always liked living there and there were wonderful views accross to the city centre. I never came accross any trouble while i lived there and i would love to go back when its finished to see how it looks. all the ideas sound really good but i think there should be more to let than the 200 that have been alocated. good luck

good luck!
The scale of Park Hill and the architeture is very impressive and I always prefer refurb to new build BUT...600 flats on the free market is crazy! I appreciate that the devlopers want owner occupiers but I ask you...would you buy one? Sheffield has a massive shortage of social housing stock (after flogging it all to Housing Associations. As a consequence we have an obscene number of people in B&B's (which are squalid and not fit for a dog!) and vulnerable women have to go to Notingham because there are no women's interim accomodation! The proposal to have only 200 social housing flats available for rent is outrageous and needs revising! (in my opinion)

Sarah Smizz
I think it's not fair that we are blaming a building for problems, and nore should we blame its community. The underlying affects are from the state of our own society- not a building; not a 'type' of people in a community. But society. Your forget that when Park Hill was in its prime; industry was to an all time low- the people housed in those flats would have been under loads of pressure of debt and unemployment. Regardless of the state of Sheffo these days, people are still suffering from poverty 20-30 years later. I'm glad that Urban Splash have taken this project on because it sounds amazing. I have faith that it won't just become one of those 'luxury apartments' that dominate Sheffield, that look all the same. Where are Sheffield's characteristic buildings going? I don't want our Sheffo looking like Leeds that looks like Manchester that looks like every echo city in the UK. Please, think creatively. And ReThink. Imagine what the consequences will be, of todays postmodern cliche bland architecture models that domainate the city. I don't mind luxury apartments, if they're socially engaging and creatively designed that interact with its environment. Also why luxury apartments? Why not great housing for ALL the people, not a select few.

The place needs tearing down. I dont care how much they try to change it, truth is you cannot make a silk purse out of a sows ear. Give it a couple of years and it will be as bad for crime and grime as it ever was. Its a depressing place no matter how you choose to tart it up. I spent about a year living on Hyde park (SSDD) in the 80's and it was enough to make me want to throw myself off the balcony. Depressing crime filled dump of a place.

It will need many CCTV's and security to make it work otherwise it'll be just the same asthe old one

I live near Park Hill for near on 20 years and as time (and the poor economic state of the city) went by, it became a no-go area at night for people walking around on their own - not a safe place by any means. It's a shame that the people who originally lived on those flats were never given a chance from the start. I would love to see the whole place pulled down and replaced by something decent - but that will not happen as it's the people who don't live (around) there who want to keep it standing. The same stupid mentality that made me leave Sheffield (and the UK).

Britney Spears
i think refurbishing Park Hill Flats is a fantastic idea and i'm all for it! will be visint it when its finished!

Will they allow the same sort of community back there as that's what brought it down in the first place

Nick wright
Park hill has always been a "no go" area for me but according to the propasals I'd buy a flat if it turned out like is planned with a mixed social grouping, not a slum as it is now.

Craig B
Any re-furbished community will only prove to be good in the long-term if the people that eventually live within it both care for it and in some ways, self police it. I would like to see this project become successful but that will be very dependant on the eventual tennants as well as outside investors.

Hello.well i think it all looks good from what i have seen of the a yung girl i watched the park hill being built.and enjoyed my teens around the flats. and the coffee bar where we all met up, and the youth clubs, yes i think park hill flats should stay .

Both my brothers used to live in the flats and i used to dread every visit. The people who lived round there were on drugs or up to even worse. The area not being much better. The idea of recreating a better Park Hill is a risk but good luck with it.

Carl Farnborugh
So who is paying for all this? Do they really think park hill will ''thrive'' ? As-if

Cliff says that the mutual consensus of the people who live around there is that it is not very nice. This isn't true at all. I've lived over the road from the flats for the last nine months, and our neighbours have lived there for years and years. We all love it. When I found out i was going to move opposite the flats I was a bit worried only ever having seen the flats from town before and heard bad things, but actually it's absolutely fine and the more I've looked out on to the flats every day the more i appreciate them and don't see them as an eyesore at all any more. Everyone's really friendly, pleasant and helpful - you see the same few people every day and get to say hello to them. I didn't live there when it was full of problems but now the flats have only 100 or so people in them it's fine, especially at the top end - clean, quiet at night, and you don't feel intimidated, although i would not walk through the flats after dark. I know people who live opposite the flats off Duke St and they think it's fine too. It's also really close to town and round the corner towards Norfolk Park and the cholera monument is a lovely leafy area with beautiful houses. As with lots of things, people just see the flats from afar and slag them off without really knowing what it's like to live in OR near them. People always think the worst and think they know what they're talking about when they're actually the people who have the least experience of living there. I really look forward to them regenerating South Street and the bit at the bottom near the tram bridge though as that bit is pretty dark and dingy.

I've seen park hill's slow decay. The idea to regenerate sounds good (in theory) but who would want to buy there with its reputation and the area it is in. I know people that used to live there, and people that live near there. And the consensus is mutual. Its not very nice.

Exiled Sheffielder
I was born and bought up in Sheff but now live near Corby, Northamptonshire, a town with very similar problems regarding run-down town centre housing. Whilst I applaud the efforts regarding Park Hill flats you get the feeling you are papering over the cracks. Good luck anyway

Andy T
I think that it will be great place for the first 2 years then it will gradually morph back to what it was before – a place where crime, poverty, drugs and antisocial behaviour thrive.

Mike H
Where will the council re-home all the druggies and louts.It seems to me that the council will only make life difficult on other estates.

Sharon Horton
I lived at Parkhill back in the 70's was brill.I was quite upset when I walked passed Parkhill school on my walk in to town one Saturday morning to find that they had knocked it down. end of an era

Sean Benson
Whatever work is undertaken at Park Hill flats will be completely worthless if the 'right type' of people are living there. A high percentage of unemployed or impoverished people stacked on top of one another in such a small area can only result in one thing - a slow but sure decline in ghetto style living. Surely it is clear to all, that this is exactly what has reduced Park Hill to what it is today?

David Hill
I love the implication that a third of flats will be 'affordable' and thus the remaining two thirds will be by extension unaffordable!

Lynette Chipp
HiI have no connection to Park Hill but found it very interesting and encouraging to read what you are trying to do and wish you well with the project. I was just a little concerned by the Robbing Peter to pay Paul idea. I have nothing against that in principle, but if those who can afford to buy pay more for the service charges they are going to have a greater stake and interest in looking after the properties than those in the social housing. I think careful consideration needs giving to this to try to give those in the social housing more of a reason to act responsibly. I grew up in social housing and this responsibility was evident 50 years ago but nowadays it is a very different story with many in social housing feeling no responsibility whatever and relying on the council etc to put right their wilful neglect and vandalism. It hardly seems fair that those who pay more in the first place may have also to bear the cost of maintaining the properties and rectifying any vandalism and could put people off buying on the open market unless measures are in place to get around this. Tenure would need to be dependent upon behaviour.I really hope that you get this good mix of community and that your project is a success. I think it very commendable in the current times that you are taking steps to keep a building and improve upon it with the community in mind, rather than simply developing for pure profit and investment. Lynette Chipp

its an ok idea to have "social housing" but surely this would just be a case of changing the housing and not the people??unless you change the people the place will just become as it is now.

duke dabarera
do not think too much as one day everything will be distroy from nature.

Dan Kahn
I've lived there for over ten years, and now live in the top end, as I want to stay once the refurbishment work is done.One of the main things I do is occasional work as a cabaret artiste, so I welcome the plans for a dance studio and an art gallery. Also, a 'Gay' bar/ small club would be a nice addition; something along the lines of the old cossack on Howard street, which closed three years ago.However, the No. 1 Priority in my opinion is affordable housing (And jobs) for local people, from whatever background, rather than expensive flats for 'blow ins' from outside.

It all sounds well and good...wait until the graphiti returns and the youths loiter around.

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