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Plans for cultural heart in city centre regeneration scheme

Artists drawing of HOCII

Exciting plans to retain a significant amount of heritage and create a new ‘cultural heart’ in the Council’s Heart of the City II development were unveiled today.

Block H, which is located on the site between Wellington Street, Carver Street and Cambridge Street, will provide a wide-ranging development split into three distinct elements (H1, H2 and H3). A period of public consultation on H2 and H3 begins today, ahead of a planning submission this Spring.

H2 will be a brand-new building offering approximately 70,000 sq ft of Grade A office space, split across seven upper floors and boasting an impressive south facing roof terrace, with retail and food and beverage units on the ground floor.

The visually striking, dark-coloured metal building will take inspiration from Sheffield’s celebrated industrial past. H2 has been designed to minimise operational energy, emitting around 40% less carbon than a typical Building Regulations compliant design. This efficiency will also continue to improve as the embodied carbon in the electricity grid reduces.

In contrast, the development for H3 (to be known as Cambridge Street Collective) will be aiming to retain as much of the quality, existing fabric and façades along Cambridge Street and Wellington Street as feasible – helping to attractively balance the old and new across the site.

Proposals for Cambridge Street Collective include a large, industrial-style space, which would be perfectly suited to a food hall or similar sociable, communal offer. Wrapping this space would be complementary shops, a bar and restaurant, and an upper level leisure space. The existing Bethel Chapel building will also be renovated, with plans for this to become a live entertainment venue.

Although not part of this planning application, the site is also home to Leah’s Yard (H1) – a Grade II* Listed building housing a collection of small former industrial workshops. Plans are still at an early stage, however there is a real desire from the project team to maintain the building’s unique Sheffield character by providing similar workshops for the city’s next creative generation. In the meantime, Listed Building Consent is being sought to undertake the structural works required to make the buildings secure.

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, Cabinet Member for Business and Investment at Sheffield City Council, explained the vision:

“We will be retaining a lot of attractive heritage across the Heart of the City II site, while also ensuring we create new spaces that are sustainable to the local economy.

“With some of the most interesting architecture in the city centre, Block H was always going to be one of the most rewarding blocks in the masterplan. We truly believe that these new plans will help provide a cultural heart and social anchor to the scheme.”

In a bid to ensure a viable and attractive development – one that also respects the heritage assets on the Block H site, Sheffield City Council and its Strategic Development Partner, Queensberry, have been working closely with heritage interest groups in the city. They have been discussing design and usage ideas.

The emerging proposals for this block now showcase the retention of far more original architecture than envisaged in the 2018 masterplan. Plans now include the preservation and sympathetic restoration of the quality fabric and façades along Cambridge Street and Wellington Street, including the listed Bethel Sunday School and Leah’s Yard, as well as the Bethel Chapel and the buildings that formerly housed Brewhouse and Henry’s. The historic buildings fronting these streets will be kept with internal adaptations and reconstruction carried out where necessary to bring them back into use.

Nick Roscoe of Hallamshire Historic Buildings, said:

“Sheffield City Council should be commended for taking this enlightened and forward-thinking approach to the interesting range of buildings that we can see on Cambridge Street and Wellington Street today.

“They have brought in first class architects and consulted carefully with stakeholders to make the most of these precious heritage assets. This is a project to be proud of and an approach we hope to see followed again.”

Andrew Davison, Project Director at Queensberry, said:

“Large communal hubs, like we are planning with Cambridge Street Collective, are proving hugely popular across the UK and Europe. The concept of a vibrant and bustling environment, with shared tables and a variety of food, drink and leisure offers, is synonymous with how we want to work, socialise and interact these days.

“It also ties into the ethos of Sheffield as well, by giving smaller independent businesses a platform to showcase their offer to a wider market.”

George Wilson, Associate at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, outlines the design strategy:

“Our approach recognises the significance of not only the Grade II* Listed Leah’s Yard and the Grade II Listed Bethel Sunday School, but also the collection of buildings that face Cambridge Street and Wellington Street.

“We are proposing to continue the story of 185 years of streetscape by retaining effectively all of the street-facing historic fabric and arranging new buildings that sympathetically respond to the setting of the City Centre Conservation Area.

“By celebrating and working with the existing fabric, we will create a place that is distinctly 'of Sheffield' – unique in its character and setting but also reflecting the city’s bold and forward-looking vision.”

The Block H site occupies a prime location in the wider Heart of the City II scheme. Directly linking to the attractive new public spaces of Charter Square and upcoming Five Ways, it will sit comfortably alongside Grosvenor House and Isaacs Building.

Public consultation for H2 and H3 runs 12 March-7 April, with public drop-in sessions, at the former Clicks and Mortar shop on Pinstone Street, taking place on 25 March (15:30-19:00) and 26 March (11:00-16:00).