The lifeblood is be­ing pumped back into this proud city

Yorkshire Post - Business - - BUSINESS - Bernard Ginns Email: bernard. ginns@ ypn. co. uk Twit­ter: @ york­shire­post

“A VI­SION born out of pure op­ti­mism and modernist ide­al­ism. Years of ne­glect and a few wrong turns brought it to the brink of de­mo­li­tion,” said the ar­chi­tect Christo­pher Egret.

He was speak­ing about Park Hill, “a brute of a build­ing” and one of Sh­effield’s most prom­i­nent land­marks.

The 1961 es­tate tow­ers omi­nously over the train sta­tion, lit­er­ally on the wrong side of the tracks, a per­ma­nent re­minder of ap­palling so­cial hous­ing pol­icy.

But the days of Park Hill be­ing a no- go zone for all but a few hardy res­i­dents and pineyed heroin ad­dicts ap­pear to be con­signed to the dust­bin of his­tory.

The de­vel­op­ment has a new lease of life un­der de­vel­op­ers Ur­ban Splash, the re­gen­er­a­tion spe­cial­ist.

The com­pany it­self is a sur­vivor. It is one of the few north­ern de­vel­op­ers to emerge from the prop­erty down­turn.

Ur­ban Splash has now com­pleted the first of five phases of the Park Hill pro­ject. This in­cludes 260 res­i­den­tial units, of which 164 have been sold. Much of the com­mer­cial space has also been oc­cu­pied.

Dur­ing my visit on a cold and crisp morn­ing last week, I met Karl Dal­gleish, di­rec­tor of plan­ning and eco­nomic con­sul­tancy Kada Re­search Ltd, who is in­vest­ing £ 90,000 to cre­ate his dream of­fice space on the ground floor.

He told me there is a lack of com­mer­cial space for busi­nesses of his size in Sh­effield. His new of­fice will have space for four work­ers. Turnover last year was £ 200,000. This year, he is hope­ful it will rise to £ 250,000. “It’s a grow­ing busi­ness,” he said, reel­ing off projects in­clud­ing Turk­ish pris­ons and HS2.

I also met Nik Bax, di­rec­tor of de­sign agency Hu­man, the first com­pany to move into Park Hill three years ago.

His com­mer­cial space is split over two floors. We sit on the se­cond floor in stylish leather chairs and look out over the busy city of Sh­effield.

Mr Bax treats me to some very good de­caf coffee and tells me about his ca­reer. He is a sur­vivor of the Brit­pop era and a for­mer mem­ber of The De­sign­ers Re­pub­lic de­sign stu­dio, where he cre­ated iconic lo­gos for bands in­clud­ing Pulp and Su­per­grass.

Hu­man is do­ing a lot of work over­seas as well as closer to home with Sh­effield Univer­sity. Mr Bax said: “We like work­ing with sci­en­tists and we like work­ing with mu­si­cians.”

The com­pany had an ex­hi­bi­tion of its 3D de­sign work at the Calm and Punk gallery in Tokyo last year.

Ur­ban Splash said 10 com­pa­nies will be based at Park Hill. Oth­ers in­clude ad­ver­tis­ing agency Uber.

Mark Latham, re­gen­er­a­tion di­rec­tor at Ur­ban Splash, took me to the roof of Park Hill for a spec­tac­u­lar view of the city.

I don’t like heights but even I could see there is a lot of de­vel­op­ment work go­ing on in Sh­effield at the mo­ment.

The Moor, Sh­effield Retail Quar­ter and Sh­effield Chi­na­town projects are mod­ernising the city cen­tre and cre­at­ing new space both for es­tab­lished brands and new en­trepreneurs.

It looks and feels like a dif­fer­ent city cen­tre to the one cas­ti­gated by Lord Wolf­son back in 2013 for fall­ing be­hind the other great in­dus­trial cities of Bri­tain.

“Leeds has built the Trin­ity cen­tre, Birm­ing­ham the Bull­ring and Manch­ester the Arn­dale Cen­tre... Mean­time, what has the city’s ex­ec­u­tive team done for Sh­effield’s retail cen­tre? My view as a shop­keeper: not much.”

In the Moor Mar­ket, I met Sean Clarke, a for­mer teacher turned re­tailer whose Beer Cen­tral sells hun­dreds of dif­fer­ent types of beer. He uses so­cial me­dia to sell on­line.

Fur­ther in the Moor Mar­ket, I met Pa­trick Har­ri­son, the founder of Louro, a new deli spe­cial­is­ing in Iberian prod­ucts such as salted cod, canned fish and cured meats.

He has a pas­sion for Por­tu­gal – Eng­land’s old­est ally – and his girl­friend is from the Alen­tejo re­gion.

I have al­ways had a warm wel­come when I have vis­ited Por­tu­gal. Just like Sh­effield.

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