Fears one of England’s most important monuments could be blocked by Sheffield apartments

Heritage campaigners are worried a 24-storey high apartment block in Sheffield will obscure one of England’s most important monuments.

By Lucy Ashton
Tuesday, 1st October 2019, 12:43 pm
Updated Wednesday, 2nd October 2019, 10:08 am
Cementation Furnace on Doncaster Street, Sheffield. Picture: Chris Etchells

Developers want to build 500 new apartments in five blocks on land at Doncaster Street, Hoyle Street, Shalesmoor and Matthew Street.

But Heritage England is worried about the impact on the Furnace Hill conservation area and heritage assets. These include Don Cutlery Works, a grade II listed building; Hoyle Street Cementation Furnace, a scheduled monument and grade II listed building and the Nichols building.

Heritage England is particularly concerned about loss of key views on the Hoyle Street cementation furnace, which is of national importance as it’s the only intact cementation furnace surviving in Sheffield and one of the last of its type in England. It is also a scheduled monument.

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Cementation Furnace on Doncaster Street, Sheffield. Picture: Chris Etchells

In a report to councillors, planning officers say: “Heritage England does not consider that a proper assessment of the impact on the setting of the scheduled monument has been carried out.

“The development will, in their view, impact on the setting of the monument and remove the key views, harming the overall significance of the monument.

“Whilst they do not object to the principle of development, they consider that the scheme does not respond positively to the furnace. They are also of the opinion that the report seriously undervalues the setting and significance of it.”

Heritage England wants the layout and scale of the Doncaster Street block to be reconsidered and public art to enhance the setting of the furnace.

The furnace won’t be affected, say planners

Planners say the views of the furnace are only possible because of the number of vacant sites and cleared plots around it.

In a report, they say: “The redevelopment of the former HSBC site on which the furnace sits is currently ongoing and this includes enhancing the setting of the furnace by placing it in a landscaped courtyard setting.

“It must be recognised that even if the Doncaster Road site was developed at a lower scale it would impede views of the furnace.

“Officers do not consider that the proposed development will destroy the key views of the furnace which affect the significance and setting of the building.”

They say the new apartments will be in red brick to reflect the character of the area and public artwork will reflect the historical significance of the area.

The report adds: “The furnace cone is at no times silhouetted against the skyline as this backdrop is dominated by modern developments which are a larger scale than the furnace itself.

“Individual buildings have been reduced in height, to respect the scale, and character of the changing townscape, being mindful of adjacent heritage assets, such as the Don Cutlery Works and the listed/scheduled furnace fronting onto Doncaster Street.

“The impact of the proposed development on the furnace is considered to be negligible and will not adversely affect its setting or significance.”

Why is the furnace so important?

Planners say the “rarity and technological interest of this conical form of structure” is of considerable significance.

The furnace was specifically preserved during the 1980s when the surrounding buildings were demolished. The open space meant the furnace moved from being a functional building to a monument and iconic image of Sheffield’s industrial past.

“It retains important connections to the adjacent Titanic Works and Don Cutlery Works that further illustrate the wider understanding of the metal trades in this area of Sheffield and contribute strongly to the significance and setting of the cone,” say planners.

“Heritage England has confirmed that the cone is currently highly visible in views from the north and north-east Kelham Island and the A61 and that it is possible to see the iconic shape of the cone within these views, and its presence in the cityscape and its silhouette against the skyline all contribute towards its significance and setting.”