Kelham Island was recently named as one of the top 10 coolest places in Britain.
The former industrial area of Sheffield has been reinvented as one of the UK’s hippest areas – and its revival has earned it eighth spot in TravelSupermarket’s Hip Hangout Neighbourhood Index, which showcases the most up-and-coming neighbourhoods in the UK and Europe.
After visiting the area it’s easy to see why it has achieved such an accolade.
Residents and businesses owners say the area has altered beyond recognition over the last decade and is continuing to do so.
New residential flats have been built and the array of building sites in the area show there are more to come in the not too distant future.
David Cross is managing director of Coda studios – the architects behind much of the development.
Their work includes its £4.5 million Palatine Gardens scheme of 54 apartments and duplex penthouse departments on former industrial land between Henry Street and Roscoe Road and the derelict Cornish Works site in Green Lane, which is being turned into apartments.
David said: “Our head office is based at Kelham Island which is the birthplace of the city’s great industrial heritage and is now being rediscovered and is as exciting a place today as it must have been 200 years ago.”
“We are delighted that some of our most exciting and acclaimed projects are situated in the Kelham Island and Shalesmoor area.”
A place which David is believes is particularly key to the area’s regeneration is the reintroduction of family housing.
Coda Studios is working on a back-to-back housing scheme on land currently occupied by disused industrial units between Copper Street and Trinity Street.
“The importance of bringing back family housing into a area that has not been lived in for more than half a century cannot be emphasised too much,” he said.
He added: “There is a genuine need for good quality living space in Kelham Island, which is increasingly popular with both students, young professionals and families, especially as projects like our own nearby Krynkl development bring fresh life and commercial enterprise to this historic area of Sheffield.”
The increase in residential developments brings with it more business. Restaurants, cafes and pubs are opening in abundance in the area – with eateries such as The Milestone, Craft & Dough, the Depot Bakery and Jöro making Kelham Island once of the most popular areas in the city to dine out.
Hayley Glover, manager of The Grind Cafe, on Green Lane, said the area is changing for the better on an almost daily basis.
She said: “The footfall into the cafe is huge and will only get bigger.
“Developments are literally popping up around us because of where we are situated. We can see a difference on an almost daily basis.”
The business had a slow start when it first opened in 2010, but has gone from strength to strength as the area boomed.
Hayley felt there is a community feel in Kelham Island despite being a short walk from the city centre.
She said: “When we first opened it was a bit of a slow burner but we have gone from strength to strength.
“That is mainly down to the products we are offering but the increase in footfall has helped.
“We get all age groups visiting – from people with babies to people coming in with grandparents.
“A lot of them are residents, and we have a lot of regulars from businesses in the area who come on their lunch hour.
“On the weekend we get people who have been wandering around the area and families for breakfast.
“Many of our regulars know each other – it’s a real hub. There is a huge community feel in the area.”
Edward Wickett, owner of The Fat Cat and Kelham Island Brewery, has seen the area change beyond recognition since he was young.
When the Fat Cat was opened in 1981 by his father, Dave, it was surrounded by derelict building and Kelham Island was best known as the city’s red light district. But on its opening day the queue at the door was down the street.
It was followed by the Kelham Island Brewery 10 years later, which helped inspire the city’s brewing scene.
The area is now home to some of the best-loved pubs and bars in the city, such as the The Kelham Island Tavern and Gardeners Rest in nearby Neepsend.
Edward, who lives in the area, said: “I’m 26 and have been around here my whole life. When my dad opened the Fat Cat I used to come down in the holidays and played football in the car park.
“There were no flats and few businesses here. In the last eight to 10 years it has just gone mental.
“I think the drinking scene has really helped. People like coming down here.
“It’s situated in quite a nice area – it’s near the river and also the city centre. It’s five minutes from town and 10 minutes from the station.
“Cafes are booming, restaurants are booming, pubs are doing great – everyone is really enjoying this revival.
“Since we have been here flats and businesses have all come. I can’t see the regeneration slowing down. The area seems to be growing too. It stretches from Shalesmoor past Green Lane works over to Neepsend.”
Voluntary organisation, the Kelham Island Community Alliance, has been operating in the area for more than 10 years, spearheading improvements for the area.
Nick Wright, a committee member and Kelham Island resident since 2000, said: “It was almost all an industrial area when the first residents started to move in in 2000.
“The alliance was formed to sort issues such as the red light district, needles in the street and parking.
“Ever since then we have been helping to improve the area and got to the point where the area got so nice and pleasant that the group almost disbanded.
“Then things started to change and the developments started again and we are back on the case.”
The alliance, which has charitable status, now promotes local businesses, helps residents with issues, works with the Environment Agency and organises the farmers’ market in Ball Street.