Sheffield creative hub’s firm foundations

Andrea Burns, second from right, with the rest of the team on the site of the Roco on Glossop Road, Sheffield
Andrea Burns, second from right, with the rest of the team on the site of the Roco on Glossop Road, Sheffield
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An opening date has been set for a complex which will transform a row of listed buildings into a haven for Sheffield’s creative businesses.

The Roco will open on Glossop Road in November, providing 30 studios for artists, designers and makers along with exhibition spaces, a café bar, deli and shop.

Work is well under way at the site since the social enterprise secured £1.1 million to realise the project’s vision, while a community share offer has raised £80,000 so far.

Andrea Burns, who is behind the scheme along with business partner Chris Hill, said having an opening date on the calendar was ‘tremendously exciting’.

“We have been working on Roco for three years now from dreaming up the initial plan, to raising the finance we need, and to now finally getting on site and transforming these beautiful listed houses into a new creative hub for Sheffield.

“Our mission was to build a space that would support and grow our city’s independent, small creative and social businesses and champion their role, and we’re now well on the way to making that a reality.”

As the seven late Georgian and early Victorian buildings - owned by the Church Burgesses Trust and formerly used as Sheffield University offices - are protected, special care has had to be taken.

“We’ve uncovered some wonderful original details,” said Andrea. “Antique fireplaces with wooden floors and the high ceilings give the studios and co-working spaces real character.

“As for the new build, we have laid the foundation and the walls are going up fast to create our café bar and events space, our unique green roof terrace and courtyards - it’s going to look fantastic.”

Andrea said having a ‘strong vision’ has helped the project succeed, but added: “Getting a project like this off the ground is always going to be a challenge, though I’m not sure we knew going in just how long it would take to find the right building and then bring our partners on board.”

The Key Fund, Co-op Community Finance and Big Issue Invest provided the necessary funding, but the Roco still needs to hit its share target of £150,000, to pay for equipment and kit out key areas.

“We are hoping that as Roco is set to be a reality we will encourage more people to invest the £200 minimum to get us to our target by the time we open in November,” Andrea said.

n Visit www.theroco.org for more information.