Turn Ball Street bridge into park for trendy Kelham in Sheffield says architect Matt Bowker of Coda Studios

A Sheffield architect is calling for a bridge to be turned into a park to fix the lack of open space in one of the city’s trendiest districts.

Friday, 6th May 2022, 9:44 am

Matt Bowker wants Ball Street Bridge, between Kelham and Neepsend, to be converted to give residents somewhere to relax.

Kelham has soared in popularity as a residential district, resulting in the conversion of old works and the construction of hundreds of flats and houses, with more on the way.

But it does not have a park and Mr Bowker, whose office is nearby, has noticed how people visit the bridge over the River Don to get a break from the urban environment.

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Matt Bowker has noticed how people flock to the bridge to get a break from the urban environment.

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The handsome Victorian span overlooks the Grade II listed Kelham Weir. Ball Street was closed to traffic when the district was turned into a ‘Low Traffic Neighbourhood’ by Sheffield City Council, although it remains open to bikes and walkers.

Mr Bowker, managing director of CODA Studios, said: “The council’s city centre strategy includes Kelham as a distinctive new neighbourhood and in terms of footfall and interest, that is proving to be an enormous success.

“The one thing that is still missing, though, is green space and what we have here is a beautiful bridge that is now totally underused but which could prove vital in creating another Kelham Island attraction.

How Ball Street bridge could look as a park.

“Come down here at any time of the day and you will see people just standing on the bridge and taking a moment to enjoy the view of the river in both directions and the wildlife that the water is now attracting.

“The council have taken absolutely the right step in closing the bridge to traffic but perhaps they haven’t yet considered what they should do with it in the long term.

“There are precedents for this sort of approach in other cities - New York’s High Line is more than a mile of elevated parkland created on what was once a New York Central Railroad spur.

“The Ball Street bridge is a much smaller project but one that could have just as big an impact.

“If you create pleasant green spaces for people, they can enjoy the area even more and that will help take Kelham Island to the next level.”

Sheffield City Council was contacted for comment.

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