Planning guru visits

city planning expert Marcus Westbury.
city planning expert Marcus Westbury.
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One of the world’s top experts in urban regeneration is coming to the UK to reveal his plans for breathing new life into Sheffield city centre.

Australian Marcus Westbury led a pioneering project to bring derelict buildings back into use in his home town of Newcastle - Down Under’s own City of Steel.

His scheme turned the area into one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 tourist destinations and the blueprint has since been copied around the world.

Marcus will be in Sheffield next week meeting council planners, Sheffield University staff, entrepreneurs and artists to see how rundown city shopping streets could be revitalised.

In Newcastle landlords offered boarded-up business units to a range of creative tenants free of charge – filling empty shops at the same time as showcasing their potential.

The university’s Professor Vanessa Toulmin, who organised the visit, said: “Marcus’ work is an inspiration to all creative cities that believe through partnership they can transform where they live.”

On Wednesday Marcus will work with 350 architecture students who will be drawing up their own innovative plans inside empty buildings in the city.

While some students will work on designs, others will transform shop windows using ‘live’ installations including slogans, performance and film.

Coun Leigh Bramall, Cabinet member for business, said: “Sheffield has long experience of reusing redundant buildings for new creative uses, but Marcus has taken the approach to a new level. It will be interesting to see what can be learned from this visit.”