The city council’s chief executive took a personal interest in the rundown suburb, met locals and rejuvenated a steering group.
She also oversaw a successful bid for £17m from the Levelling Up Fund, with £7.8m to kick-start improvements on Attercliffe Road.
It was a major boost for a place most agree has increasing potential but only a few green shoots of real growth.
Since then Ms Josephs has been forced to admit she attended lockdown leaving drinks on the day she left the Cabinet Office in December 2020. A special committee of Sheffield councillors has been set up to decide what to do. Currently into her second week off work, there’s a chance she could get the sack.
And while no single person will turn Attercliffe into a gleaming suburb with a bustling high street and hundreds of new homes, it is feared her absence could mean a loss of precious momentum.
Businessman David Slater said: “What she did was wrong, but Sheffield needs to look at the big picture. She’s a very capable person, it took a long time to choose her. I would be sorry to see her go.”
WHAT IS ATTERCLIFFE LIKE TODAY?
A walk down Attercliffe Road will reveal in a few short minutes what is needed - traffic calming and an HGV ban.
Amid some grand architecture are cheaply-built and dilapidated buildings, like the former Pierrepoint grocer, which should be swept away. The area is also home to several repair garages, and unsightly damaged cars dot the streets. The litter is shocking. It also has more than its fair share of sex shops and brothels.
But supporters are excited by its position, with great links between the city centre and Meadowhall, including via tram and canal. It’s a stone’s throw from the English Institute of Sport, Sheffield Arena, and the fast growing Olympic Legacy Park and has acres of brownfield land which should one day be estates with hundreds, if not thousands, of homes.
Although key, Kate Josephs was just one of the players aiming to change Attercliffe.
WHO ARE THE KEY PLAYERS IN ATTERCLIFFE?
Some of the others include Tammy Whitaker, head of regeneration and property at Sheffield City Council, who was involved in the Levelling Up Fund bid.
Clive Betts, longstanding MP for Sheffield South East, works locally – urging Amey to do more clean-ups, for example – and nationally. Six months ago he hosted the chairman of Homes England, Peter Freeman, on a two-day visit to Sheffield which started with a trip to Attercliffe.
He also aims to change government housing policies that favour the South East and persuade it to ’spend its money better’.
Chris Thompson is boss of Leeds developers Citu which won the race to build a 700-home estate called Attercliffe Waterside.
It will be the first big housing project in the area. More residents mean more prosperity for the high street, driving land values up. New shops and businesses will move in and some of the existing activities will be forced to move on, it is believed.
Sheffield City Council chose Citu in 2019. A planning application could be submitted this year, although first it is understood the company will ask Mayor Dan Jarvis for £1m to clean up contaminated land.
And the sale of the land has yet to go through.
The 22-acre brownfield site, centred on Sheffield and Tinsley Canal and Woodbourn Road, belongs to Sheffield City Council, the Canal and River Trust and the Duke of Norfolk.
Mr Thompson says it’s a ‘highly complex’ scheme but progress on the purchase is being made.
Other prominent figures include property specialist David Slater, who owns 29 units in the area and has long been its most vocal champion.
Mr Betts, the Olympic Legacy Park team and Kevin McCabe’s Scarborough Group International are all his tenants. He also owns community hub and cafe bar, The Library.
Car dealer Junaid Hassan, 29, is just one of hundreds more stakeholders who are all ‘waiting for someone to go first’, as he puts it.
He has a pitch for his cars and an empty plot which was the Travellers Inn until he had it knocked down last year. He’d love to build flats with shops below. But Attercliffe needs to improve a bit more first.
That’s not to say things aren’t happening.
Attercliffe Community Cemetery Group have turned what was a ‘diabolical mess’ into an attractive open space.
Mr Slater added: “We are so close - it will be great. Once we get a sense of community down here. You can wake up in a SkyHouse on Attercliffe Waterside, get your bike out and go to the ice skating.”
The council's Attercliffe Action Plan states: “The 1970s and 1980s was a period of decline in the steel industry and together with ‘slum clearance’ resulted in the shrinking of the population which by the end of the 1970s was negligible with many vacant and derelict sites and declining activity.
“However, the centre still retains special significance for both longstanding white and Asian residents reflected in the continued use of pubs, clubs, restaurants, shops and places of worship. Many residents of Darnall retain strong attachments.”
In the 1990s, a concerted public sector intervention aimed to bring green spaces back and a masterplan was produced for employment areas set within large landscaped areas with the aim of attracting new, clean, technology-based companies.
Sheffield Technology Park was built on Shirland Lane, in landscaped setting and with direct access to the Supertram. This was followed by the Virgin Media centre which employs about 800 people.