Heart of the City 2 consultation
Please take two minutes to email your thoughts (even just a very brief response is better than nothing) or fill in the online questionnaire, telling Sheffield Council what you think of proposals for inner city regeneration that will harm (the question is, how much?) Sheffield’s heritage.
The consultation ends Friday 28th September. This time round it’s the council that is the developer – there is no third party to blame. Please e-mail your comments to email@example.com or give them online at https://www.heartofcity2.com/public-consultation
The proposal is to retain Laycock House, a fine Victorian building, but to demolish the rest of the block and replace with modern buildings.
The old Athol Hotel, in ‘mock tudor’ cladding, and neighbouring good quality Victorian building, would be demolished and replaced by new build under the current proposals. The mock tudor cladding might give the impression that there’s nothing much to lose, but we only need to look to the building alongside and old postcards to see the fine stone and brickwork that are beneath the cladding. The building between Laycock and the old Athol Hotel, together with a restored Athol Hotel, would hold this corner very well indeed and give the Laycock building the setting it deserves.
Below is the proposed replacement. We are told that “The ethos of the design is to create a striking, angular new building to complement and contrast with the late Victorian Laycock House”…
It’s certainly a contrast, but clearly the new building does nothing to complement the fine Laycock House. A mock up that included some colour, would no doubt show even more of a ‘contrast’ too.
The larger new build behind the ‘angular building’ will house seven floors worth of apartments, with retail units on the ground floor. Given the nondescript nature of the present block in that position, it’s not any worse than at present, though the design does nothing to complement the historic buildings which are the strong point of the vicinity.
Block C is the triangle containing the Pepperpot building – a recognisable and characterful Victorian building. With a good clean, the pepperpot, and the old Midland Bank at the other end of the block, will have more admirers than anonymous, anytown block can muster. The plan is not to spruce up the entire triangle, but to keep only the part fronting Pinstone Street. The rear section of the Pepperpot, and the Victorian block behind that, are to be replaced by a large office block, according to the present proposals.
The proposed new section follows in the footsteps of the HSBC block now in place alongside it. You don’t need to be an architect to see that, at eight storeys tall, it overwhelms what remains of the Victorian triangular block. The guiding principle is evident: squeeze in as tall a building as possible in as big a footprint as possible, to maximise revenue.
Times have changed since the John Lewis/Hammerson ‘Sevenstone’ scheme and even the ‘New Retail Quarter’ that came later. The rise of Internet shopping and out of town shopping centres have crippled retail in many town centres. John Lewis are staying put and private investment in the Moor (now owned by Scottish Widows) has ended up creating other attractive destinations for retailers coming to the city centre. Retail makes up a small proportion of the present scheme, and New Retail Quarter has been rebranded as ‘Heart of the City 2’.
Heart of the City first time round gave Sheffield the Peace Gardens, Millennium Gallery, Winter Gardens, the redevelopment around the Railway Station and Tudor Square – great examples of good design enhancing the city centre amidst other developments that helped pay for them. The quality of design in the present scheme doesn’t fit in with those values and the oversized blocks don’t justify the loss of heritage assets being proposed.
There is an opportunity to enhance this area by restoring more of the heritage assets – restoring the Athol Hotel and not robbing the Laycock Building of the setting it needs. Restoring the historic frontage to Charles Street would add more to the area than a new block, which doesn’t have to be so tall as to completely overwhelm its surroundings and can partly concealed behind the frontage. Retaining the historic frontage to Charles Street would also give some continuity up to the buildings on upper Cambridge Street – the old Henry’s, the Bethel Sunday School and Leah’s Yard.
Please e-mail your own comments (something short in your own words is good) to firstname.lastname@example.org or give them online at https://www.heartofcity2.com/public-consultation by Friday 28th September.