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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...
All bricks and walls have been removed from within the flats leaving an exposed concrete frame.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
"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
"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
- 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."
- 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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Park Hill - artist's impression
- To date -
:: June 2009...
last updated: 19/06/2009 at 15:11
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?
daniel pakes the park hill owl