Sheffield square 'should be airport for flying cars' - readers' brilliant suggestions for key disused plot

One of Sheffield’s most important squares should be brought back into use as an airport for for flying cars, it has been suggested.

By David Walsh
Monday, 14th June 2021, 6:53 pm

Sheaf Square would be ideal as a ‘landing and charging station for future urban air mobility vehicles’, according to Matthew Knowles, an aerospace industry executive.

He added: “Take people from the station to other locations not connected by rail and more efficiently than by road. Look to the future.”

Mr Knowles commented after Sheffield City Council said there was ‘no update’ on the square, a large plot of land outside Midland Station which has been empty since Dyson House and Sheaf House were demolished 15 years ago.

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Impression of an electric plane over London.

The authority has hinted it wants to reserve the land to make the most of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

But with little progress and no guarantee either will come to Sheffield, people have been filling the gap with ideas.

Only last week an electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft maker in Bristol, Vertical Aerospace, announced it had pre-orders for up to 1,000 eVTOL aircraft from American Airlines, and others, valued at up to $4bn.

It is estimated HS2 will cost £106bn and arrive in Sheffield - on a loop off the mainline to Leeds - in the 2040s, leaving the square empty for up to 19 years.

Half of Sheaf Square has been landscaped.

Sheffield property developer David Slater suggested a hotel could be built on Sheaf Square.

Chris Sellars, director at financial advisers Mackenzie Spencer, said it should not be used for a ‘stop gap, second rate hotel or student flats’.

He added: “Until someone comes along who will build someone worthy of the site, use the space for entertainment, Chow Down in Leeds would be a great example.”

Chow Down is a popular open air drinking, dining and music space.

Artist's impression of a Vertical Aerospace VA-X4 aircraft. A landing pad would fit on Sheaf Square.

Michael Hudson, digital marketer, agreed.

He said: “Anything as long as it isn't more overpriced student accommodation. More student flats than we have students and just such a waste of some great spaces.”

In March 2020, Sheffield City Council unveiled a £1.5bn plan to redevelop the Sheaf Valley, which includes Sheffield Midland Station.

It would see the Sheaf Street dual carriageway, which runs in front of the station, swap places with the tram route which runs behind.

Artist's impression of a Vertical Aerospace VA-X4 aircraft.

Park Square roundabout would be closed to traffic and a huge, landscaped pedestrian bridge would link Park Hill with Howard Street.

A spokeswoman for Ed Highfield, director of City Growth at Sheffield City Council, said: “I’ve asked about this and there’s no development update to give at this stage.”

In a report from March 2020, the city council says Sheaf Square is needed to seize the ‘wider benefits of improved connectivity’.

It states: ‘For the wider benefits of improved connectivity to be realised, HS2 and NPR need to be supported by investment in the station and surrounding area to secure its redevelopment.

‘Investment in new stations and the associated place making and regeneration often creates new city districts with high quality commercial floor space and can also attract demand for new housing within easy walking distances’.

Coun Mazher Iqbal with the site on Sheaf Square in 2018, earmarked for the new Channel 4 headquarters. The bid was unsuccessful.

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.