Park Hill residents give a glimpse of life on Sheffield's new 'streets in the sky'

Members of the Park Hill residents' association Heather Greaves and Carl Goodman.
Members of the Park Hill residents' association Heather Greaves and Carl Goodman.
0
Have your say

The new residents of Sheffield's revamped Park Hill flats are so impressed with their homes they are giving guided tours.

Anyone from architecture enthusiasts to those who are simply a little curious can now get a close look at what life is like in one of the 260 flats redeveloped by Urban Splash.

The new 'streets in the sky'.

The new 'streets in the sky'.

And although the days of milk carts driving along the 'streets in the sky' are long gone, a new community is emerging in the brutalist structure.

Heather Greaves, 56, lives with her 14-year-old son in a two-bedroom flat. She says the retained streets - which have kept their original names - and the hallway entrances that mean four flats open onto the same space mean residents regularly bump into each other.

"Having lived in three places I do think this has the most community," said Heather.

"We share lifts, we walk along the streets together."

Heather says the flats have a strong sense of community.

Heather says the flats have a strong sense of community.

She added: "I used to life in California. That was a really social street. In England you don’t get that.

"But at Park Hill because you are protected when you are outside your flat, you get that a lot more.

"I know more people now than ever in Sheffield."

When it was first built, Park Hill was a pioneering social housing project. But investment dried up and it fell into disrepair, before Urban Splash came along with its redevelopment plans.

The great views reflected in the new spiral staircase.

The great views reflected in the new spiral staircase.

Social housing advocates often criticise the developer for creating homes that price low-income families out of the market. But Heather says that reputation is unfair.

"You read that it’s upmarket. OK, there are nice flats, but it’s not the Barbican," she said.

"I just think some of the people that criticise it should come and look. We are not just posh people."

The tours are the latest project from the Park Hill Residents' Association, which was set up about 18 months ago. The group reports maintenance and upkeep issues, and organises social events such as the book club.

Inside one of the flats.

Inside one of the flats.

But there is also a wider aim.

"The idea is to promote the community and to give one voice," said Heather. "Somewhere that we can get engaged. With being an association is carries weight.

"(Housing provider) Great Places and Urban Splash come along. We have had police, fire, the council. I don’t think we would get that without the association."

Through the tours, residents hope to give visitors a better idea of the kind of people who live and work at Park Hill, as well as showing off the impressive refurbishment.

But they are also trying to raise money to improve the space around them.

A major aim is to create a community garden on an area of green space between the flats and the tram line.

Carl Goodman.

Carl Goodman.

Carl Goodman, 22, said: "The community garden is a big plot that we have been granted stewardship of by the council. It’s going to be fruit and veg, a sensory garden, somewhere to sit. Businesses can use it too.

"Long-term it could be something like urban beekeeping."

Funding is essential, and some could come from outside sources. But residents hope to speed things along by raising money as well.

Carl is happy to show people around his one-bedroom flat if it helps the campaign. But he also wants to highlight the little touches that set Park Hill apart, be it the industrial design - with imperfections in walls left in due to the building's listed status - or the windows at the entrance to each flat, which residents use as miniature exhibition spaces.

And for Carl, like Heather, the key thing is the community.

"I have lived all over Sheffield and never known my neighbours. I came here and know 10 people in two days," he said.

"We’ve got a real mix of people, such as first-time buyers like me. We have people from all sorts of backgrounds."

And he added: "We want Park Hill to interact with the wider community. We don’t want it to be thought of as this little island of yuppies."

For more information about upcoming tours, e-mail parkhillresidentsassociation@outlook.com.

Residents use their windows as miniature exhibition spaces.

Residents use their windows as miniature exhibition spaces.

The view from a balcony.

The view from a balcony.

Further refurbishment is planned.

Further refurbishment is planned.