Scores more flats for Kelham Island in Sheffield as developer snaps up large plot

Scores more flats are set to be built in Sheffield’s trendiest district after a large site was snapped up by a developer - as traditional businesses continue to leave the area.

By David Walsh
Monday, 20th December 2021, 12:28 pm

One of the few remaining plots in Kelham Island, old warehouses and industrial buildings at 180 Shalesmoor, have sold.

The site, which fronts on to the Shalesmoor inner ring road, was on the market for £1.4m. It was bought by R.S.Sabkha Construction and Developments Ltd.

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The old Atkinson Walker saw factory on Cotton Mill Row.

The company is building 90 flats and two commercial units on the old Atkinson Walker saw factory site to the rear. It aims to finish by summer before turning its attention to its new acquisition.

180 Shalesmoor was put on the market in summer and offers were sought in October before the deal completed at the end of last month.

The site had been the used as workshops and warehouses, but since the transformation of Kelham Island has had ‘clear redevelopment potential’, according to Francois Neyerlin at SMC Brownill Vickers.

He added: “I’m delighted to have secured such a key site in Kelham Island on behalf R.S.Sabkha Construction and Developments Ltd. This development is one of the most exciting opportunities in the area and we look forward to seeing the finished scheme.”

Ian Bullivant, right & Wayne Parker at the Atkinson Walker Saw Factory on Cotton Mill Row Sheffield in 2009.

This site was marketed by Crosthwaite Commercial.

Mark Holmes of Crosthwaite Commercial said there was interest from local and national developers, which resulted in ‘best and final offers’.

He added: “After being instructed on the sale in August, we were pleased for the transaction to have completed so quickly in November which was a testament to both the vendor, the purchaser and their professional teams.”

The deal is the latest in an area that has seen intense competition between residential developers who have offered building owners huge sums to sell up. In some cases existing businesses have either closed down or moved out.

Atkinson Walker saw smiths Ian Bullivant, right, and Wayne Parker in 2009.

180 Shalesmoor was originally a steelworks before being used for clothing distribution and latterly a car bodyshop, clutch centre, car hire and fishing tackle sales.

A large cleared plot to the rear will be Citu’s Kelham Central housing development. It has seen buildings go up on either side of the popular Kelham Island Tavern.

Globe Steel Works on Alma Street was sold by AW Tools, which moved to Hillsborough. It is understood it will become a live music venue.

The oldest buildings on the street - a row of cottages from 1804 - are set to be turned into 11 homes.

How the new flats on Cotton Mill Row will look. Pic by Coda Architecture

The two remaining occupants are cabinetmaker Paul McCarthy and silversmith Chris Perry who are waiting to be given a date to leave. A planning application is expected by April, Chris said.

Meanwhile, Aircraft and Commercial Tools on nearby Bowling Green Street is closing after the owner sold up to developer Grantside which aims to build a block of flats on the historic site.

The hectic pace of development has left few old workshops untouched and few businesses in the area - leading some to lament a loss of character.

Atkinson Walker Saws was bought by Sheffield Industrial Saws in 2018 and moved into its premises on Atlas Way. The firms have just relocated to Imperial Works on Sheffield Road near Meadowhall.

The empty factory in Kelham was sold the same year and then demolished.

Managing director Antony Egley, aged 59, said it was a long and narrow and like working in a submarine.

Set up by the Walker family in 1928, for a time they lived in the front part of the building. In the floods of 2017, the company was inundated with two metres of water, deluging 146 pieces of manufacturing equipment. In the aftermath it had to drop lines and cut staff from 24 to 18 but managed to restart production within five weeks.

Mr Egley said he did not object to the transformation of Kelham but the lack of support for manufacturing ‘breaks my heart’.

He said: “Kelham is an up-and-coming yuppie place. I like going out down there, it’s a nice place although the real ale is a bit expensive.

“But there’s no money for manufacturing. Our move has cost £500,000. We have Chinese investors, without them we would have gone out of business, there’s no money from government.

“Nearly every manufacturing workforce is over 50, firms can’t get the people. It’s very sad.

“At the moment we are finding it tough but we’re holding our heads up.”

The firm, which employs 36, has a young female apprentice in the office and is taking on two milling, turning and grinding apprentices in January.

The largest blades, up to 2.4m across, need the expert attention of a ‘saw smither’ to ensure they are perfectly flat and run true. It is a traditional Sheffield skill which takes years to perfect.

Mr Egley added: “I’m just glad we are still manufacturing. We are as cheap as China now for some things but some of my guys have some amazing skills.”

Sheffield Industrial Saw’s biggest customer is British Steel. It’s largest products are used to cut hot ingots. The firm also supplies joiners and furniture manufacturers, PVC window and door manufacturers and kitchen fitters.

The Star first reported on the plight of Paul McCarthy and Chris Perry in June.

It sparked a debate about whether Kelham Island is becoming ‘overdeveloped’ with new flats at the expense of the heritage that made it interesting in the first place.

The former industrial area beside the River Don was at the forefront of the city living boom and regularly appears in national ‘top 10’ lists of cool places to visit.

In 2018 it won the UK’s best neighbourhood at the Urbanism Awards.

But the future of the two heritage craft businesses highlighted what some see as rampant gentrification.

Architect Matt Bowker, managing director at Coda Studios Ltd, said he was worried Kelham Island was being redeveloped ‘in its entirety’ and failing to balance residential and work uses.

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