Sheffield Council will spend almost £800,000 on a series of projects designed to kick start the regeneration of rundown Castlegate.
The historic area has been deteriorating since the old Castle Market was knocked down, and has long been earmarked for redevelopment.
The council wants to try to uncover the ruins of Sheffield Castle while also attracting new business and investment.
Funding has always been an issue – but that could be about to change.
Now the council has today announced a fund of £786,000 to put towards several schemes over the next 18 months. The money comes from the Government’s new homes bonus.
They include an archaeological dig, essential repairs to the Old Town Hall, bringing empty shops back into use and creating a conservation area.
A vision for the regeneration of the area is being developed by the Castlegate Partnership, which includes the council, friends groups for the castle and Old Town Hall, the two universities, hoteliers, retailers and Sheffield Culture Consortium.
Cabinet member for business and investment Mazher Iqbal said: “This package of projects demonstrates the importance we place on the future of Castlegate as a key part of the city centre economy and in the partnership which has come together to achieve it.
“Castlegate is a major gateway into the city centre, but at the moment it doesn’t reflect the incredible regeneration happening elsewhere in the centre, such as The Moor and Sheffield retail quarter.”
The the castle site itself is key to the regeneration plans. The council hopes to find some evidence of the old building and turn it into a public space.
The first step in that process is a major archaeological excavation, which is now due to begin.
Chairman of the Friends of Sheffield Castle Martin Gorman said: “This is fantastic news, and we are excited that work to excavate the remains of Sheffield’s medieval castle will begin soon.
“We look forward to working alongside the council, archaeologists and the two universities, to maximise public engagement and interest in the castle, as the finds are revealed and interpreted.”
Other projects that will take place thanks to the new funding include the extension of the Grey to Green planting scheme along Exchange Street and Castlegate, connecting the area to Victoria Quays, and work to upgrade empty shops in Exchange Street and Waingate.
Urgent repairs will be carried out to the Old Town Hall, which is owned by G1 London Properties Ltd and has been up for sale for years with little public interest.
Security will be employed to patrol the old market site and prevent vandalism.
And a conservation area will be set up to protect the townscape and help with bids for funding to the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic England and others.
Valerie Bayliss is chairman of the Friends of the Old Town Hall, which is raising money to buy the building.
She said: ‘’We welcome this initiative on the Old Town Hall in particular and also the wider co-ordinated approach to the whole area’.’
The survey and design work for Castle Hill and Grey to Green will provide the basis of a bid to the Sheffield City Region for further money towards those projects. The council hopes to put the bid forward next year.
The Castle Hill space will connect directly into plans for the uncovering of the River Sheaf which runs under the site, in a new pocket park called Sheaf Field. Designs have already been developed by the council, funded by the Environment Agency.
Other work being carried out by the Castlegate Partnership includes:
- The first professional evaluation of Museum Sheffield’s Castle Remains collection, commissioned by the University of Sheffield.
- Proposals for how the Castle site could be transformed by architecture and landscape students.
- Studies commissioned by the Friends of the Old Town Hall to identify potential new uses for the historic building.
- Work to bring back into use the vacant shops in the former Exchange Street galleries block as cafes, arts and music production spaces.