After the council’s spin that they had finally realised the value of built heritage and that the Sheffield Retail Quarter would seek to retain and re-use buildings rather than demolish them, it was more than disappointing to find the outline planning applications amount to “Hammerson-Lite”.
On Pinstone Street, the Pepperpot now survives, (spoiled by an underground car park ramp in front of it), but half the former HSBC and all the Athol Hotel will go, (just like Hammerson), and with them the longest late Victorian frontage that still survives in the city centre.
The listed Bethel Sunday School on Cambridge Street is reduced to a fragment.
The design process could have begun with the inherited buildings and streets, adapting and adding to blend the best of old and new, but what councillors like most is to leave a monument.
In 1945, Sheffield Replanned would have blown a hole bigger than the Blitz so that from the Town Hall they might gaze over a vast civic piazza in keeping with their status.
1969’s Emerging City worshipped the car with concrete, ringing the centre with imaginary spaghetti junctions. This is more of the same.
Sights fixed on a grandiose boulevard scything across the grain of the city, they grudgingly accommodate a few old facades to lend it character.
This is a council that can no more be trusted with historic buildings than it can with trees.
So don’t trust them: tell them what you think, and they might just listen, if they can hear you over the exciting roar of chainsaw and bulldozer.
J Robin Hughes
Towngate Road, Worrall, Sheffield, S35