Residents living in the city centre have heard details of a development master plan which aims to unite the University of Sheffield with its wider environment.
At a Changing Sheff meeting – formerly known as Sheffield City Centre Residents Action Group – a small group of residents met with Keith Lilley, Director of Estates & Facilities Management and IT at the University of Sheffield who shared the establishment’s vision for next decade.
Outlining key details of the plan, he spoke of the numerous developments, including the engineering 'Heartspace’, £2 million MRI-PET scanner and a new Social Sciences Building, which are set not only benefit students but also the wider environment for those living and visiting the city.
In 2017, the five-year plan scooped the Outstanding Estates Strategy award at the Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards (THELMAs), for successfully ‘uniting university and city goals to improve the environment and public realm of Sheffield’.
He said: “A key part of that strategy was really about making sure the estate connects as good as it can with the rest of the city because a lot of our buildings have all faced inwards, not necessarily outwards.
“We wanted to get people to come through the estate and a key part of that is carrying on the city’s gold route, which is the cycling and walking route which comes up from the midlands station, works its way through the city and picks up with the Leavygreave Road pedestrianisation area.
“A really important part of what we do is introducing more green space. Again on the Leavygreave Road space we’ve got planters which won a Civic Trust award, but also we’ve been putting parkland type settings around the campus.
“We’ve got a real established policy in terms of managing trees within the city. We’ve got something like 3,500 trees as part of our estate. We occasionally have to remove some, because of particularly disease. But every time we remove one we replace it with two.
“On the concourse we’ve brought more green space and more plants. One of the other key things we're also doing is enhancing our relationship with business and industry.
“A lot of the businesses that have made announcements that have had a national impact, so Boeing aerospace with a factory out at the old Sheffield airport – we own that land now, the 100 acres.
“They’re working with the university and have done for about 19 years. Their first European manufacturing base is located next to the university’s factory 2050 bringing jobs and investment to the city, but not just Boeing, you’ve got Mclaren and also Rolls Royce.”
Some projects, such as the £10m ‘Heartspace’ atrium at the Mappin Building and the refurbishment of the concourse underneath the Western Bank flyover – which now features additional lighting to make the area more ‘inviting’ – are due for completion this year.
Construction on the social sciences building, which will provide a ‘hub’ for academics to come together to research a range of multi-disciplinary topics, is also set to commence shortly with the contractors expected on site by the end of April.
The four-storey development is to be built on one of the university's full-size football pitches at the junction of Whitham Road and Northumberland Road, Broomhill.
It will be the university’s most sustainable building, predominately heated through ground source heat pumps, significantly reducing its carbon footprint.
The Royce Discovery Centre, a new research-focused building for the Faculty of Engineering based on the corner of Portobello Street and Orange Street is also set for completion in 2020.
Meanwhile construction on the new sports centre, which will replace the existing Goodwin building on Northumberland Road, will get underway once the social sciences building is complete.
And, as for the former Henderson’s Relish factory on Leavygreave Road – which was bought by the university in 2015 – Keith added: “We are hoping to do something with that building very soon.”