ACTOR and comedian Griff Rhys-Jones has called other cities to follow the example set by a regeneration project in Sheffield.
The television personality praised developers of Sheffield’s Park Hill estate, Urban Splash, for choosing to transform the buildings and surrounding area where others might have wished to knock down the flats.
He took a tour of the complex, currently undergoing a £146m refurbishment, as part of a four-day visit to Yorkshire in his role as president of Civic Voice and supporter of Sheffield Civic Trust.
Both organisations aim to make places more attractive, enjoyable and distinctive by speaking up for local communities and civic groups.
Griff recalled how the estate, first built as council housing between 1957 and 1961, made an imprint on his memory when he arrived at Sheffield railway station for the first time.
He said: “It was 1974 or 1975 and I was touring with a play and we came here to perform in some church hall. When you arrive in the station it’s one of the first things you see. You’re instantly aware of it.
“Improvements that are being made at the moment are giving it a new lease of life and we have to think of ways we can do that across Sheffield. I want Sheffield to be an example for other cities like it.”
The creation of 900 new flats on the Grade II listed estate has divided opinion in Sheffield, but Griff spoke out in support.
Griff said: “We seem to be driven by a continuous urge to pull things down and start again but what we have realised is that some of the most exciting architecture in Britain can come from urban redevelopments.
Regeneration is about taking places which might have been failures first time round and recycling those buildings.”
Paul Bedwell, chairman of the Sheffield Civic Trust, said: “Sheffield people know what is special about Sheffield and this is all about people thinking about that.”
The tour’s next stop off was at Portland Works, near Bramall Lane, where a group of volunteers are working together to ensure the survival of a piece of the city’s history.
Griff is also speaking at The University of Sheffield tonight.