Towering ambition for Sheffield’s West Bar

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Sheffield’s West Bar is set for another boost under plans for a new tower bringing scores of residential apartments along with shops and offices over thousands of square feet.

The run-down Weston Tower, on West Bar Green opposite the Hilton hotel, would be revamped and extended to create 12,500 sq ft of commercial space for offices, retail and leisure use.

The 11-storey scheme is backed by a London investor, and a full planning application is expected to be submitted to Sheffield Council imminently. It will help to spur on the revival currently under way in West Bar, as part of the ambition to extend the city centre towards Kelham Island and the Riverside Business District.

As well as Weston Tower, projects in the pipeline include West Bar Square, a £250 million development of offices, retail space, apartments and a hotel over five acres behind the law courts, and Peel House, a large office block on the corner of Snig Hill which is being converted into 93 flats.

Work is also continuing on the Grey to Green scheme. This involves digging up part of the main road on West Bar and planting wildflowers, bulbs, plants and grasses, as well as narrowing the route from four lanes to two.

David Cross, managing director of architects Coda, which is behind the tower plans, said the proposals demonstrated that Sheffield ‘has miles to go’.

“Sheffield seems to be very much on the radar of investors from all over the world, as well as London and locally,” he said.

“We can create a different kind of city centre. Sheffield has got unusual problems in terms of housing delivery because of the Peak District and its topography and flooding, so we’re going to see a lot of investment in the city centre.”

Weston Tower would feature 146 one and two-bedroom apartments - for residential use, rather than student flats - and commercial space over two levels on the ground floor.

The building was bought by London firm Romiga some time ago, said Mr Cross.

“We’ve been playing around with different versions to find the most deliverable solution.

“We will be stripping the building back to its concrete frame and extending it upwards, sideways and backwards. It will be more of a slender, blade-like tower.”

Engineers have already been consulted to see if the design is feasible.

Mr Cross said that, in Sheffield, development is constrained to the west of the city because of the Peak District, to the north west because of the countryside and to the east because of the risk of flooding. He added the solution was to expand ‘inwards’, creating a denser city centre. “Sheffield has miles to go. Kelham Island in the next few years will feel completely different, because hopefully it will be pretty much built. There is a lot of attention around Shalesmoor, West Bar and Neepsend - they will be the next areas to have the Kelham effect.”

Work is pencilled in to start at Weston Tower in the middle of next year.