Sheffield is just over an hour away from Birmingham and I have no idea why I’ve never visited up until recently to see some friends. I really loved having a mini tour around the city and hearing all about where they grew up, places they used to visit and exploring the city. There is such a cool vibe about Sheffield and I can’t wait to visit again soon. I stayed at my friend’s flat over at Park Hill and I was super excited to visit as the social history behind the estate is pretty interesting. The entire estate is grade II listed and it’s the biggest listed building in Europe. The huge brutalist building looms over the city (with a great view), behind the train station and developers, Urban Splash have taken on the challenge of renovating the vast complex.
Originally, the area was full of slum housing and seen as a pretty grim and dangerous place to live. It was decided that a radical change was needed to rehouse the community and construction began on the huge complex in 1957. Nicknamed, ‘Streets in the sky’ the estate mimicked the old streets and neighbours were rehoused next to each other. The ‘decks’ were wide enough for milk floats – see this video! Shops, nurseries, pubs and everything a community needed were all part of the estate. However, ultimately the building proved costly to repair and experienced further decline when Sheffield was hit hard with the loss of jobs in the steel industry which inevitably led to shop closures. Original communities dispersed and eventually the big city plan literally fell apart, people moved out and within 20 years, it was seen as really undesirable and unsafe place to live. My friend said that the area has long been seen as a rough part of Sheffield and other friends recall stories of people throwing TV’s over the balconies but it certainly doesn’t feel like that anymore.
The estate is iconic when it comes to Sheffield and to say it’s a massive project to regenerate is an understatement and if you watched This Is England 90, you might recognise the building from the show! Urban Splash retained the original concrete frame (which is the only thing that is protected) and the building was completely gutted with the first phase now complete. I think the Brutalist building looks awesome with the coloured panels and with community spaces/shops, art galleries, businesses moving in, there is something very exciting about this huge estate. I can’t wait to visit again and see more life being breathed back into this building. Check out more on the project here!