SMITH OF THE STAR: It’s not about beauty it’s about history...

St Paul's on Wordsworth Avenue.
St Paul's on Wordsworth Avenue.
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PARK Hill flats notoriously got it, Castle Market didn’t.

The Co-op’s Castle House made the grade, Cole Brothers fell short.

Park Hill Flats.

Park Hill Flats.

Listed status.

The Government’s ‘do not disturb’ sign hung on buildings considered to have ‘national historical significance’.

And guess which two Sheffield landmarks might be next on the list?

The Manpower Services building that squats at the end of the Moor and the Moore Street electricity sub-station’s floodlit 1960s futurism that divides the city into love and hate camps.

Manpower Services building

Manpower Services building

The buildings are eligible for listed status because they are over 30 years old and, despite what people might say about them, are significant Sheffield buildings.

“Though I can’t comment on their suitability for listed status they are both significant buildings in the city’s history,” said Trevor Mitchell, English Heritage’s Regional Planning Director for Yorkshire and The Humber.

Many people see both buildings as an eyesore, reminders of a past where traditional design was abandoned and de-humanising brutalist architecture allowed to flourish.

But according to Trevor Mitchell, that’s an argument for them to be kept rather than demolished.

University Arts Tower and library.

University Arts Tower and library.

“It’s not about whether it’s ugly, it’s about whether it’s an indicator of our history,” said Trevor Mitchell. “What it tells us is about us as a city and our aspirations as a country. Beauty is entirely subjective and is no basis for deciding how you should curate the past.”

This is the argument that preserved Park Hill flats, the hugely controversial block now undergoing a £146million renovation programme.

Trevor Mitchell puts the case.

“What we know is that Park Hill was an enormously influential piece of architecture. People came from Europe to see it because it was a practical application of theory first created by French Architect Le Corbusier and applied in Sheffield on the principle that: ‘We have this much land and, know we need this many houses and we have this theory’. It’s amazing really that this European theory should be applied in England on a hillside in Sheffield.”

Moore St  electricity sub station

Moore St electricity sub station

The Moorfoot building, formerly the Manpower Services, was completed in 1981, cutting off a main traffic route into the city to allow The Moor to be pedestrianised. Now owned by Sheffield City Council, the building had been earmarked for demolition to allow the development of a city business quarter. But there are no current plans for redevelopment and the building could still be listed for its architectural significance.

The Moorfoot building is one of many striking architectural edifices in the city and, according to English Heritage Sheffield’s post-war stock is among the best in the country and probably a reaction to its historically poor reputation.

“In the Victorian, and pre-war periods, Sheffield had quite a poor reputation as a smoky and industrial place,” said Trevor Mitchell.

“Because of its reputation, the city went out of its way to create buildings of some distinction and Park Hill was built using bricks and local labour. It was not done on the cheap - that frame has another 50 years of life in it.

“The University held a design competition to build the Arts library and tower, the first competition brief that insisted the buildings be of modern construction.

“The landmarks of the city are quite deliberate statements about the confidence of the city, saying we need to change and we can do that through new buildings. By listing that phase of building, we are trying to keep that phase of development to record a phase in the life of the city.

Trevor Mitchell, English Heritage Director.

Trevor Mitchell, English Heritage Director.

“We have to see these buildings not looking back from our perspective but looking forward from the perspective of those that built them.”

“It’s no accident that Sheffield gets most requests for listed buildings from the post-war era,” said English Heritage Director Trevor Mitchell.

“Sheffield has a good stock of post-war architecture. In fact, Sheffield has a quarter of all post-war listed buildings in Yorkshire. The only ones in Leeds are the university buildings.

“People were commissioning quality-built buildings in the theatre, council, university and church. There is also David Mellor’s house in Park Lane, Sheffield.”

A new English Heritage report has also praised Sheffield’s most recent wave of re-vitalisation through landmark projects like the Winter Gardens and Millennium Galleries.

“Many projects, although bold in style, utilise local materials such as steel and stone, re-enforcing Sheffield’s distinctive character,” says the report.

The one kilometre Gold Route linking the train station with the city’s retail heart crosses two conservation areas, connecting many listed buildings.

“High quality craftsmanship, simple detailing, drawing design inspiration from conservation areas and having a clear vision are all singled out as part of Sheffield’s success.”

Factfile: The listed list

Sheffield’s fine collection of post-war listed buildings:

University Library, 1956-59, Grade II

Park Hill, 1957-61, Grade II

Church of St Catherine of Siena, Richmond Road, 1958-60

St Paul’s Church, Wordsworth Avenue, 1958-9, Grade II

St Mark’s Church, Broomfield Rd, Broomhill, 1958-63, Grade II

1 Park Lane, S10, 1959-60, Former home of designer David Mellor, Grade II

Cathedral (west end and entrance), 1960-66, Grade I

University Arts Tower, 1962-65 Grade II

St Peter’s Church, Reney Avenue, Greenhill, 1964-65, Grade II

Castle House Co-op Department Store, Angel Street, 1964, Grade II

Crucible Theatre, 1969-71, Grade II.

Like it? see if you can list it...

FANCY choosing a listed building?

Your old school, workplace or favourite pub? Then go ahead.

Anyone can request that a buillding be given listed status. All you have to do is go online to the English Heritage site at and fill in the form.

Buildings must be at least 30 years old but it’s not just buildings that can be listed, it’s parks, gardens and battlefields, monuments and wrecks.

English Heritage receives around 2,000 applications for listed status each year.

“A building has to be 30 years old before it can be listed. Exceptionally in an emergency, buildings can be listed after 20 years,” said Trevor Mitchell, English Heritage’s Regional Planning Director for Yorkshire and The Humber.

“We are obliged to look at all buildings that people think are worth saving. But, it’s the Government who lists things.

“If the Secretary of State believes something is of special interest, he has to list it. We sift all the applications and report to the Government.

“English Heritage is the messenger. We are duty-bound to consider all applications. Applying is anonymous and it costs nothing.

“People get their chance to say what they think should be listed, but the Government decides.”

St Mark's at Broomhall.

St Mark's at Broomhall.