Feeling an affinity with Sheffield’s ‘hub on the hill’

Park Hill Flats
Park Hill Flats
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The redevelopment of Park Hill has certainly had its critics, from those who say the flats complex should have been demolished, to people put off by the colourful design scheme.

But although the man leading the project - Simon Gawthorpe, managing director of Urban Splash - is familiar with these arguments, he begs to differ.

The scheme is now entering its ‘most exciting’ stage, says Simon - and, by December, Park Hill will be a ‘completely different place’.

“Hopefully by the end of this year there will be 400 people living there, 200 people working there, a thriving nursery, businesses fitted out and the landscaping completed,” said Simon.

“We’re looking at it in quite a different way now - as Park Hill being a new quarter of Sheffield.

“There’s an ability to have a completely new area, a creative industries hub.”

Urban Splash is making a new investment of £18 million in the refurbishment, and 182 one, two and three bedroom apartments are about to be made available.

Three thousand people have registered their interest as potential buyers on Urban Splash’s database.

Meanwhile legal agreements are being finalised with six companies - some established Sheffield firms, others new to the city - who are taking up commercial units at Park Hill in deals worth £2 million.

The businesses work in similar fields to the two existing tenants, creative agencies Human and Uber.

“These are people who see a bit of an affinity with Park Hill, their business and the work they do and the image they’re trying to create,” said Simon.

A 12-month arts programme is running in the space once occupied by the Scottish Queen pub, which Simon envisages as a prime spot for a new bar or restaurant.

This would create a destination on the hill and further the aim of expanding the city centre with a ‘new quarter’ - similar to Kelham Island, or the recently-unveiled West Bar Square project.

“Now the link is up there, from the station to Park Hill, the distance has shortened in everyone’s minds. It’s not seen to be on the periphery, it’s now going to be seen very much as part of the city centre,” said Simon.

“I’m confident that we will get a pub there, and a restaurant. We’re very keen to speak to people about that.”

However, Simon concedes there is much work to be done. Urban Splash is turning its attention to the next stage of the redevelopment, and options are open as to the way future phases will be designed, such as the colour scheme chosen.

“We’ve pressed the refresh button on the vision. We might try something else. We wouldn’t have five different interpretations, though.”

He added: “The recession was difficult, but now we’re back as a company, having heavily restructured and refinanced, and this is a primary focus for us as a business.”