This time it’s not quite as prominent or as central as the last subject, and many people probably don’t even know that this little enclave exists, but it must be one of the best groups of Georgian buildings in Sheffield.
Pitsmoor Road, just above Woodside, is now a little used road but in its heyday was a very desirable area, as was the adjoining suburb of Burngreave which contains some of the best quality Victorian houses in Sheffield. This little stretch of Pitsmoor Road from 249-265 is much earlier however and Grade II listed No. 259, dating back to 1825, is ‘one of a notable group of early 19th century classical villas’ which is how the Georgian Group describe them in their comprehensive objections to some proposals for the site.
This delightful house with its original fanlight was still a private residence up to the 1920s when it became a girls training home for City of Sheffield Childrens’ Homes. Later in the 1930s it was taken over by the City of Sheffield Mental Deficiency Acts Dept as an Occupation Centre. During this period this short stretch of Georgian Sheffield had a most interesting collection of tenants ranging from a well-known physician and surgeon, a Dr Barnardo’s Home, the Vicarage to Christ Church next door at No 257 and the now derelict Pitsmoor Working Men’s Club and Institute at No 261. The stretch finished off with the Hainsworth School of Dancing (prop. Miss Lilian Hainsworth) and finally a Sheffield Education Committee Hostel.
Getting back to No 259, the house and coach house had been used by the NHS for many years as offices, but after being declared surplus to requirements were put into auction last year with a price guide of £150k. They fetched a staggering £364k so someone really wanted them, and as they are going to squeeze 18 housing units out of the site then there’s the reason why.
The house itself is to be converted into 1 x 2 bed flat, 2 x 1 bed flats and 2 studios. Sadly, the original entrance hall and reception rooms are to be sub-divided, but it gets worse. A modern three storey flat-roofed extension is to be tacked onto the back with the upper floors in an anthracite zinc finish. Mmm – nice!
This will create 7 x 1 bed flats and 4 studio flats and with the coach house being converted into 2 x 1 be flats this will bring the grand total for the site of 18 units. If that isn’t gross over development then we don’t know what is. The Georgian Group’s objections were excellent, very valid and well worth the read. Historic England’s reaction was ‘no comment’.
This scheme will not only have an adverse effect on the Grade II listed vicarage next door at No. 257 but also on the setting of Grade II listed Christ Church which stands opposite. UDP Policy states that ‘new developments and extensions will only be permitted where they are well-designed and in scale and character with neighbouring buildings’. So what happened there then?
The only good thing we read in the Sustainability Statement was that ‘the building will be constructed from a steel frame making it easy to be dismantled at the end of its life-span and recycled’. What a sad indictment of today’s buildings when, No. 259 has been standing there for nigh on 200 years and could be for 200 years more, yet they are already discussing the demise of the newbuild extension before it has even been built !
In an attempt to be positive about the scheme we must welcome the demolitions of the previous modern extensions which linked the coach house to the villa. This will improve the setting of the house so they will at least be seen as two stand alone buildings – so try and ignore the out-of-keeping extension plonked on the back. We won’t even mention the 11 proposed new parking spaces which every good Georgian garden should have.
The area closest to the villa is to be glazed to give the appearance of a glazed link between the two buildings which we don’t quite get, but at least it is removable if someone decided to reverse all these aberrations at a later date.
The sad thing is that this scheme would not even have been contemplated on the other side of town and it would have reverted to just what it should be – a fine Regency family house.