Buildings saved in drive to rescue Sheffield places most in danger of being lost by 2020

Buildings are being rescued in a push to save the top 20 places in Sheffield most at risk of being lost forever by 2020.

Thursday, 15th August 2019, 21:50 pm
Conservation officer Zoe Mair outside the Farfield Inn.

At the start of this year, The Star revealed a list compiled by Sheffield Council that included seven historic metalworking sites, two former pubs, three old churches and a disused courthouse, all of which were deemed to be in jeopardy.

It is thought that, if the privately-owned buildings do not fall irretrievably into dereliction, they could generate 300 new homes if converted and revamped.

Seven months on, progress has been made. One site – North Yard, a Grade II-listed former metal trades workshop on Well Meadow Street – is now the subject of a planning application that would allow it to become 11 residential units, while closed hall of residence Tapton Court, in Ranmoor, has been put on the market by Sheffield University.

Funding is being sought for at least another three entries on the list, and letters have been sent to 10 owners with invitations to discuss their properties with council officers. Two have since been in contact.

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In addition, a Friends group has been formed to protect the Grade II* listed Loxley Chapel and its graveyard, where many victims of the devastating Great Sheffield Flood of 1864 were buried. Built in 1787, the chapel has deteriorated badly since closing in 1993 and went up in flames in 2016.

Mike Drabble, the Labour councillor for Richmond who is the authority’s heritage champion, admitted that rescuing buildings was ‘not always easy’.

“We will use powers that we have to bring stuck sites back into use but it’s always better when we can work with owners and developers to preserve and enhance our history, for the benefit of the people,” he said.

Coun Drabble said there had been ‘positive steps to get neglected buildings back into circulation’ by 2020.

“They also show that the council wants to work with developers wherever possible to retain these essential parts of our history,” he added.

The list was the idea of Zoe Mair and Ruth Connelly, the council's two conservation officers. The initiative was sparked by the number of cranes visible on the city skyline as post-recession construction schemes take shape.

"We just thought if we can maybe attach a few buildings at risk to this boom, we might get some good results,” said Zoe in January.

The first local register of buildings at risk was published in 2001, when there were 97 entries. The number on the council’s at risk register has fallen from 60 three years ago to around 30 now.

Recognisable spots saved since 2001 include the grand Head Post Office in Fitzalan Square - now Sheffield Hallam University's Institute of Arts - as well as Dial House, once home to the popular working men's club of the same name in Wisewood, and Butcher Works on Arundel Street, which lay empty for decades before becoming workshops, apartments and an organic café.

Meanwhile, Wharncliffe Works in Kelham Island had fallen into a serious state of disrepair but has been brought back into use as apartments and commercial space. And close to Devonshire Green, developer Capital & Centric is starting to revive Eye Witness Works, which is earmarked for nearly 100 loft apartments and townhouses.

Coun Drabble said: “The very best heritage schemes in the country are about people. I’m delighted to say that there’s plenty of evidence that shows this is taking place in Sheffield.”

The 19th century Leah’s Yard, one of the last remaining ‘little mesters’ sites in the city centre, has the potential to be a ‘great asset’ in Sheffield’s £470 million Heart of the City II scheme, he said.

“Look at the Old Post Office in Fitzalan Square which is now a thriving home for Hallam’s art students, or Wharncliffe Works in Kelham, which was a steel tool workshop and is now a vibrant and creative hub for independent businesses.”

Coun Bob Johnson, cabinet member for planning and development, echoed Coun Drabble’s sentiments.

“We have seen a number of excellent developments that have restored historic buildings,” he said. “Hopefully the successes we have will spur on other sympathetic conversions. I know our planning team shares the frustrations of many when we can’t contact owners or where the pace of change is slower than we’d like. But the above successes show what is possible – and the appetite to tell this essential part of Sheffield’s story.”

20 by 20 – the list

Name, Historic England listing, type/former use

Former Middlewood Church, Middlewood Drive; Grade ll; Former church

Beehive Works (rear), Egerton Lane; Grade ll*; Metal trades building

Spital Hill Works, Spital Hill; Grade ll; Metal trades building

North Yard, 54 Well Meadow Street; Grade ll; Metal trades building

Don Cutlery Works, Doncaster Street; Grade ll; Metal trades building

House and stable block, Longley Lane; Grade ll; Former stable block

30 Mowbray Street; Grade ll; House

The Ball, Darnall Road; Grade ll; Pub

The Farfield Inn, Hillfoot Road, Neepsend; Grade ll; Pub

Old Hall Farm, Thorn House Lane, Brightholmlee; Grade ll*; Farm

Spout House, Spout Lane; Grade ll; House and outbuilding

Kingston Works, Malinda Street; Grade ll; Metal trades building

299 Glossop Road; Grade ll; House

Loxley Chapel, Loxley Road; Grade ll*; Former chapel

1 Haymarket; Grade ll; Office

Tapton Court, Shore Road; Grade ll; House/accommodation

Anglican Chapel, Cemetery Road; Grade ll; Former church

Countess Works, Countess Street; Grade ll; Metal trades building

Kutrite Works, Snow Lane; Grade Il; Metal trades building

Former Tribunal Court, East Parade; Grade ll; Legal building