Grant will help Sheffield river see daylight for first time 'in a century'

The site of the old Castle Market, under which the River Sheaf flows.
The site of the old Castle Market, under which the River Sheaf flows.
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The Environment Agency has given Sheffield Council £50,000 to help uncover a city centre river.

The authority wants to remove the culvert on top of the River Sheaf in Castlegate, where the old Castle Market stood, and create a park for residents to enjoy called Sheaf Field.

It is part of a wider aim to ‘renaturalise’ city centre rivers, also including the Porter, large sections of which are covered.

The council plans to use the £50,000 grant to survey the area and better understand the culvert, river bank, river bed and weir where it meets the River Don.

This will pave the way for detailed designs to be drawn up and a planning application to be submitted.

The scheme is called ‘Putting the Sheaf back into Sheffield’, and runs alongside plans to uncover the ruins of Sheffield Castle.

How Sheaf Fields, a new park next to the old Castle Market could look. The River Sheaf could be uncovered under new council plans.

How Sheaf Fields, a new park next to the old Castle Market could look. The River Sheaf could be uncovered under new council plans.

Senior flood risk advisor for the Environment Agency James Mead said: “We are all for the Putting the Sheaf Back into Sheffield scheme. The project very much fits into our vision for urban rivers and wider environmental improvement.

“It will be a great improvement. It will reduce the need for maintenance and help to reduce flood risk by alleviating the possibility of future culvert collapse, reducing the risk of blockage.

“It will also provide a number of other environmental benefits such as facilitating a level of re-naturalisation and reconnecting the city with one of its forgotten rivers.”

The council says taking the culvert off the Sheaf will help regenerate the Castlegate area. The culvert is in a poor state of repair and is already incapable of bearing heavy vehicles, according to the authority.

The Sheaf emerges to meet the River Don.

The Sheaf emerges to meet the River Don.

Council leader Julie Dore said: “The meeting of the Rivers Don and Sheaf at the former Castle Market site – or Sheaf Field - marks the historic origin of the city and the strategic site of the former Sheffield Castle.

“This funding will enable officers to better understand the site and developed detailed plans for it – but there’s no mistaking its tremendous potential.

“This could restore part of the city’s ancient history and unlock further regeneration for the wider Castlegate area.”

Should the culvert be removed, that part of the Sheaf will see daylight for the first time in a century. The council says this will naturalise the stretch and improve the wildlife and fish habitat.

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