Business leaders have pledged to push forward long-delayed plans to transform Attercliffe from a forgotten sex trade neighbourhood into a ‘thriving’ community.
David Slater, of Attercliffe Action Development Group, said it was time to ‘add teeth’ to Sheffield Council’s 10-year plan for the area – which had made ‘little progress’ since it began in 2011.
He said the council had identified 40-acres of land for housing in Attercliffe, and predicted ‘major residential projects’ including up to 3,000 new homes and £400 million of investment in the next five years.
The investment, along with the Olympic Legacy Park, would ‘transform this once forgotten gateway of Sheffield into a thriving residential and commercial community that the people of Sheffield east can feel proud of’, he added.
Mr Slater compared the redevelopment of Attercliffe to what is happening in Kelham Island, saying the standard was ‘not even close’.
And in a direct appeal to developers and investors, he said: “Don’t be afraid to come to east Sheffield and get involved – it’s going to be an amazing opportunity.”
Former sports minister Richard Caborn is heavily involved in the Olympic Legacy Park and has faith in the project’s transformative potential.
Speaking at the English Institute of Sport, he said the combined work of Sheffield’s two universities and the teaching and children’s hospitals was driving development forward.
“In the next 18 months we will see a dramatic change in this area,” he said. “The school – Oasis Academy Don Valley – is open, we’ll have the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, the Sheffield Sharks basketball team.
“The UTC came on site on January 1 and by September 29 they were open, which is really pleasing.
“If you bring the partners together and there is a real will for it to happen, then it will.”
Attercliffe once was a thriving shopping destination, with names such as John Banner Ltd and Burton still visible on buildings that have seen better days. But the decline of the steel industry and the council’s decision to clear entire streets of terraced houses took people away from the neighbourhood and played big parts in its decline.
Mr Caborn said it was key to bring people and ‘purchasing power’ into Attercliffe in order for it to flourish once more.
“Land values will start going up and people will want to invest in this area,” he added.
But while regeneration is the buzzword for business leaders, those who work in Attercliffe are more concerned with the day-to-day.
Andrew Sobieralski runs tattoo shop Lab 13 in Attercliffe Road – one of many businesses trying to attract customers in the midst of abandoned buildings and sex shops.
He calls the city centre ‘pompous and expensive’, and with a hint of mischief and tongue firmly in cheek suggests ‘where there’s muck there’s money’.
“Attercliffe is a friendly area – it’s real Sheffield,” he said. “It’s got attributes that a lot of areas have lost, like Kelham Island which has just been ‘snobberised’.
“I would quite happily live in Attercliffe. I don’t mind it down here.”
Andrew, known as Soski, may not want to lose that link with ‘real Sheffield’ but he does see the potential of Attercliffe.
He said: “What a lot of people don’t realise is it’s very good for infrastructure. We’ve got the tram and buses, there’s free parking, and that does make a difference. And business rates aren’t extortionate.”
And while regeneration of the area may bring a little more ‘snobberisation’, Andrew can see the benefit.
“For children to get educated and people to stay in the area is a fantastic thing,” he said.
Along the same stretch of road, Usmaan Mohammed runs Attercliffe Pharmacy Direct. His father runs a clothing shop next door – and his neighbour is another sex shop.
“I don’t think having a sex shop next door is great, but it doesn’t really affect us,” Usmaan said. “We have never had any problems.”
Usmaan has only been able to get a licence to run a mail order pharmacy so far. But he hopes to convince the NHS of the need for an over-the-counter shop.
“If you look nearby there’s nothing for almost a mile and a half, which puts this community in an unfortunate situation,” he said.
“It’s a great need for the community.”
Usmaan knows Attercliffe is a deprived area and is keen to see regeneration.
“A lot of people shy away from spending. We have people coming in and bartering prices – and we have to accommodate that,” he said.
“It’s a shame there aren’t many opportunities in the area. There isn’t a lot of investment in housing.
“This is a big retail strip and there are so many properties which could be renovated and put back into use.”
Mark Elliott runs design firm House of Logos with his son Tom. His custom comes mainly from outside Sheffield - a big change from when he started in the job 25 years ago.
“When the steelworks were going we used to get quite a bit locally, but as industry has gone, we have had to change,” he said.
With his shopfront looking out onto the high street, Mark has seen Attercliffe develop and change over the decades.
“It’s improved significantly – the image and everything about it,” he said. “A lot of that is to do with the English Institute of Sport. It’s definitely raised the profile.”
Mark worries about the impact regeneration will have on business rates – which could force him out of Attercliffe.
“But all in all it’s a positive effect,” he said. “When you mention Attercliffe people know what it’s about – and for the right reasons.”
Sheffield Council has blamed any lack of progress on its Attercliffe action plan on the economic downturn, while highlighting the work done so far on the Olympic Legacy Park and Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District.
Coun Mary Lea, ward member for the area, remembers the days when Attercliffe was a shopping destination. She is hopeful the action plan can be carried out and those days can return.
“All these buildings will open up and thrive if we get all the pieces in place,” she said.
The Attercliffe manifesto
1. Tackle regeneration together as a city
2. Prioritise house-building
3. Embrace the themes of sports, health and wellbeing
4. Set a realistic and sustainable environment strategy
5. Identify council-owned land that could be developed quickly
6. Target neglected buildings
7. Move the sex trade on as soon as possible
8. Stop heavy vehicles driving through
9. Speed up the canal regeneration
10. Plan pedestrian areas