Great idea for pier is closer to reality

Plans to build a '˜great pier' over the old Castle Market site in Sheffield city centre have taken a step forward.

Sheffield University’s architecture school has lodged proposals with the council to put up a temporary structure from which people will be able to watch archaeological digs of the old Sheffield Castle remains.

The university says the scheme would encourage people to visit the area, and could act as a catalyst for the wider redevelopment of the Castlegate area.

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Groups of students on the architecture masters degree course have been working on ‘live projects’, commissioned by real clients, that it is hoped could become reality with the right investment.

If approval is granted and the plans come to fruition, the pier – built from wooden boards and timber decking, with viewing holes covered in aluminium mesh – will be open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm.

As part of the planning submission, Carolyn Butterworth, from the architecture school, said the walkway would project out from Exchange Street onto the site of the former market, which closed in 2013 before it was demolished.

“The pier will enable members of the public to view the castle remains as archaeological investigations are carried out below them,” she said.

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“Information about the site’s history and potential future visions for the site will be displayed on the pier, possibly including artefacts from the site.

“The pier will not enable members of the public to gain access to the site itself, but will give the opportunity to stand above the site on a safe, accessible and secure platform.”

Carolyn added: “As well as offering views of the remains of Sheffield Castle as they are revealed, and of the historic buildings around the site – including the Old Town Hall and Exchange Place Studios – the pier will help to animate Exchange Street, building on the creative use of nearby empty shops and providing a catalyst for possible further temporary development.”

The structure is intended to be ‘creative, colourful, playful and engaging – bringing the seaside to Sheffield’.

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Last summer Sheffield Council announced £800,000 was to be invested in Castlegate. The money would help to transform the quarter into a digital business hub, prevent the Old Town Hall from deteriorating further and allow for a new investigation into the history of the castle, where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned for almost a third of her life.

The castle, once a huge medieval fortress, was knocked down during the English Civil War.