'Change in character' means timing is right for redevelopment of Sheffield metalworks

The council used money from the new homes bonus to repair part of the roof.
The council used money from the new homes bonus to repair part of the roof.
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A derelict Sheffield factory could soon be redeveloped thanks to the owner’s confidence in the improvements in the surrounding area.

The Lion Works building overlooking Spital Hill was once home to toolmaker John Sorby and Sons.

Lion Works in Spital Hill.

Lion Works in Spital Hill.

Over the course of at least two centuries it was home to some of Sheffield’s biggest metalworkers, but the Grade II-listed building has been empty for some time and falling into disrepair. A fire which gutted an upper floor did not help matters.

But two years ago Sheffield Council used some of its ‘new homes bonus’ money to carry out major re-roofing and bracing work to make part of Lion Works wind and water tight.

And having seen construction and economic activity increase in the Spital Hill area since then, owner Riath Hamed has decided the time is right to restore the old building.

A planning application was this week submitted to turn Lion Works into 90 studio and one-bed apartments over five floors, with a communal bar/cafe area included.

A report by Axis Architecture highlights reluctance over the years to press forward with development plans.

But it says the area has undergone its ‘most significant change in character’ over the past decade with improvements as a result of the Burngreave Action Plan.

“Following major investment in the area, the new Tesco opposite and improvements to the wider context including the Wicker, the opportunity exists to move plans forward with the current owners who are considering the site for residential use,” it adds.

A listed building consent application has also been submitted, and the plans point to the need for a ‘sensitive’ conversion of the existing buildings, paying ‘special attention’ to preserving and enhancing the architecture.

The main entrance will be off Spital Hill into a newly opened up courtyard, although there will be separate private entrances for residences that front Handley Street.

According to the plans the apartments will be ‘affordable’ and will all be adaptable to mobility requirements.

The aim is for the building to be car-free, so ‘significant’ cycle parking will be provided.

“Public transport links to the development site are extensive with bus stops located close to the site providing links to the entire city and beyond," says the report.

"The occupiers of the development will inevitably use the services and retail options of the surrounding mixed-use area, providing further stimulus to the regeneration of the area.”

The council won a silver award for its work on stuck sites including Lion Works at the National Royal Town Planning Institute’s 2017 awards for excellence in planning.

Judges also praised work on the former Ebenezer Chapel in Shalesmoor, which has been transformed from a derelict shell into 11 occupied apartments in the Kelham Island conservation area.