Work has begun on the long-awaited second phase of the redevelopment of Sheffield’s iconic Park Hill flats.
Contractors have this week started work on the £30 million renovation of five more flanks of the grade II listed building, which will see developer Urban Splash and Places for People create a further 200 residential properties.
Phase 1 of the huge redevelopment was completed in 2011, and won national recognition for the city by being nominated for the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Stirling Prize for architecture in 2013.
It is now fully occupied by around 600 people and dozens of businesses and services including marketing consultants Uber, Warp Films, the Grace Owen Nursery School and South Street Cafe.
Mark Latham, regeneration director at Urban Splash, said: “Starting work on Phase 2 is a significant milestone in realising our original ambitions for Park Hill.
“New homes and work spaces mean we can expand the already thriving community here, and it is so gratifying to see the increasing number of events and activities that are organized - and that they include people from the surrounding area too.
“We have been keen to support links with the residents, key stakeholders, city initiatives and festivals, and now we can say that Park Hill is perceived as being part of the city centre and contributing to Sheffield’s economy.”
The design work on Phase 2 has been done by architects Mikhail Riches, whose design retains more of the original fabric of the 1960s building than was the case in Phase 1.
The new section is joined to the first phase of the structure by Park Hill’s famous ‘I Love You, Will U Marry Me’ bridge, which Urban Splash highlighted with neon lights as a symbol of the regeneration of the Brutalist landmark and its famous ‘streets in the sky’.
So far, Park Hill’s redevelopment has meant Urban Splash, along with partners Places for People and Great Places, have been able to provide 96 affordable housing apartments and 28 Help to Buy in Phase 1.
Because this is significantly more than the 68 that were originally agreed, they say there will be no affordable or social housing in phase 2, but that this will be reintroduced for phases 4 and 5 of the plan.
The work on phase 2 will take place at the same time as phase 3 of the plan, the creation of 330 student flats in a separate section of the sprawling site off Talbot Road.
The entire redevelopment will eventually include a phase 4 and 5 as well, comprising the blocks nearest Duke Street and at the top of South Street respectively.
The student flats - which will be created in a roughly J-shaped block in the middle of the site - have been designed by Whittam Cox Architects and will cost £20 million.
Urban Splash’s development partner Alumno hope this section will be completed by 2020.
Park Hill was first opened in 1961 as a bold social housing experiment, replacing the area’s former slums with modern, purpose-built apartments with stunning views across the city.
The vertically-stacked streets down which a milk float could be driven were named after the traditional streets they replaced – Gilbert, Hague, Long Henry and Norwich.
The building and its sister structure Hyde Park were for many years a source of real pride for residents, but by the mid-1990s the area had become better known for chronic social problems including poverty, violence and drug abuse.
Most of Hyde Park apart from two blocks were demolished in the early 1990s, but Park Hill remained and was given listed status in 1998 in the hope a developer could be found to renovate the still sound structure.
Urban Splash say they hope the £100 million of investment they have put into Park Hill over the last 10 years will help create a new area for Sheffield city centre in much the same way as the company’s Manchester developments had helped create that city’s trendy Northern Quarter.
Before Christmas, Urban Splash chairman Tom Bloxham revealed his vision for Park Hill was for it to become a ‘really cool’ mid-century modern district on the edge of the city centre.
Phase 1 of the redevelopment has already improved facilities in the area, with better on site landscaping and seating areas, as well as the continued development of South Street Park and its amphitheatre.
It has also brought new cultural attractions like the S1 Artspace where exhibitions about the history of the site and Bauhaus - the artistic movement which inspired its design - have brought hundreds of people to the area.
Late last year, the building was added to Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register, which could allow its owners to explore more funding opportunities to protect its future.
A stage musical about the flats’ history - Standing at Sky’s Edge - written by Sheffield musician Richard Hawley, will have its world premiere at the Crucible in March.