Comment - Moorfoot is horrible but tough questions about climate must not be ducked

There are no two ways about it, Moorfoot is ugly. It could even be a contender for Sheffield’s ugliest building.

Friday, 18th March 2022, 4:42 pm

No one, as far as I know, has tried to have it listed, as they did with Park Hill, although it has inspired a variety of nicknames including Dalek City, the Ziggurat and Aztec Temple.

It’s also hugely obtrusive and cuts off a traditional link between The Moor and London Road.

But should it be demolished?

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The Moorfoot building in Sheffield could be demolished.

The city council’s new strategic vision raises the possibility in an almost throwaway line: ‘The future of the Moorfoot Building itself (adaptation or replacement) is currently being considered’.

In 2010, the fire station on Wellington Street was razed and moved across town.

The red brick building, from a similar era as Moorfoot, had lots of life in it but was flattened without much protest to make way for the Sevenstone shopping centre that never happened.

But times have changed, a lot.

Today, experts will calculate the ‘embodied carbon’ in Moorfoot’s hulking mass to the kilogram.

And they will say it is much greener to refurbish a building than to demolish it and erect another, just as they have with John Lewis.

The Barker’s Pool building seems likely to go after public consultation found a ‘clear preference’ in favour of flattening it. People would probably choose the same fate for Moorfoot: it is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to right a wrong, remove an unloved piece of architecture and really give that end of Sheffield a lift.

But if declaring a climate emergency is to mean anything then tough conversations about the impact of demolishing the city’s biggest office must not be ducked.

The authority also wants 20,000 new ‘homes’ in the centre. Although horrible on the outside, Moorfoot is, apparently, quite good inside because the stepped structure creates a lot of light. And converting offices can be done, Concept House on Young Street near Wickes is having the treatment right now.

How many people could live in Moorfoot? Could it be made nicer to look at? Or less visible? Could the tunnel to London Road be opened up, finally?

All these questions must be answered before the wrecking ball swings.

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