Coloured panels on the first fašade, January 2010
By Grace Parnell
BBC Sheffield & South Yorkshire
The gritty, iconic Sheffield landmark Park Hill is being redeveloped and thrown into the 21st century. We have been taking a look at the progress of the development.
When BBC Sheffield visited the site at the end of January 2010 something of a landmark had been reached. After months when hundreds of small repairs to the concrete made it look like there was little going on, the first façade of the building was finally 'enveloped'.
Urban Splash artist's impression of Park Hill's north end (2009)
It had finally been made watertight and wind-proof; the windows, coloured panels, concrete balustrades and the roof of one flank were all complete.
of the latest developments at Park Hill.
Park Hill's development manager Tom Lawrence explained how they chose the red, orange, yellow and purple panels: "Anodized aluminium offers an amazing lustre. Depending on the angle it's very sparkly and bright - really vibrant in the sun - very different from standard cladding."
Some striking art installations were taking place around the building site in September 2009.
Art at Park Hill by Kid Acne (top) and Gary Hindley (bottom)
Kid Acne, whose graffiti-style work can be seen on walls all over the city, approached Park Hill's developers Urban Splash and asked if he could paint some of the walls on the building site, and Sheffield painter Gary Hindley has used the exposed frame of Park Hill literally as a frame for his seven-foot-square canvases.
Gary is doing five individual paintings of characters associated with Park Hill flats while Kid Acne has spray painted well known Sheffield phrases on to the walls.
For more on the artwork at Park Hill, follow the
All internal bricks and walls were removed from the north block near Park Square roundabout, leaving the exposed concrete frame.
The concrete was cleaned and tested with a hammer test. Over 5000 defective bits are painstakingly patched and painted a similar colour to the existing concrete in line with requirements from English Heritage because of the building's listed status.
Once all the concrete repairs are complete the building will be waterproofed.
After what seemed like a long time with nothing happening at Park Hill, coinciding with the UK recession, there were speculations and worries about the project's funding.
Developers Urban Splash assured BBC Radio Sheffield that the development was still on track particularly because much of the funding comes from public bodies like Sheffield City Council and English Heritage.
Originally the outer walls of the flats were one third glazing to two thirds solid wall. This ratio will be reversed for the refurbishment so instead it will be two thirds glazing and one third solid wall. The bricks will be replaced with coloured panes of anodized aluminium. Urban Splash released an artist's impression of their plans for the exterior glazing which can be seen below. You can see the photos of the construction work at Park Hill by clicking on the link below or choose one of the galleries on the right of the page.
2009 artist's impression of the new glazing plans at Park Hill
Building work began to remove the interior walls of the flats in March 2008, which gave the building a 'punched-through' look. English Heritage, who are providing a substantial amount of the funding, stipulated that the iconic concrete frame of the building must be preserved.
Building work officially began on the loved and hated landmark on 7 December, 2007. Urban Splash, the developers responsible for thrusting Park Hill into the 21st century, say they want people to give the estate another chance.
Mark Latham, Development Manager at Park Hill, told us what is planned on the site. You can listen interviews with Mark and other developers by clicking on the links on the right of the page.
Park Hill's interior walls were removed, 2008-9
Park Hill plans
Urban Splash thinks that Park Hill's success revolves around re-instilling the community spirit which thrived when the flats were first built.
Many of the things which made the original Park Hill complex a success, such as a greengrocer, pubs, newsagent, laundrette, community centre, hairdresser and so on, will be returned to the estate along with restaurants, a bookies, a greasy spoon, clothes shops and record shops - say Urban Splash.
They want to spend £130 million on revamping the estate; re-landscaping the grounds in and around the flats, and improving the parkland and pedestrian routes down to Sheffield station.
Initially they said they would like allotments, private gardens, a wildflower meadow, a bowling green and a parterre garden as part of the landscaping. Much of the landscaping will be inspired by the Peak District and typical Sheffield landscapes.
An art gallery, dance studio and climbing wall were also among the expanding list of things Urban Splash said they wanted on Park Hill. Plans will evolve as the development continues - influenced primarily by funding.
Urban Splash want to add a splash of colour to the old concrete flats
A high street will be created through the middle of the flats where the primary school used to be. The high street will link Duke Street and South Street and the developers want bars, restaurants and communal gardens to spill out on to South Street and the hill behind Sheffield station, with a Rome-style piazza where people will congregate and meet their friends.
Mark Latham explained: "Under the I Love U Will U Marry Me bridge, we're creating an open square area. It'll be surrounded by bars, terraces and cafes that will look out west over Sheffield so it'll get the lovely evening sun.
"South Street will remain basically where it is now, but instead of being a long straight line from the top at Talbot Street down to the tram bridge above Park Square roundabout, we're putting gentle bends and curves in the road. It'll just wind and meander a little bit more."
Grand entrance in the fortress
Another major entrance area is being created at the north block (Park Square end, near the tram bridge) where a huge 'cut' will be made in the wall.
The north entrance will be much larger
"It's currently a very mean entrance for such a big, grand entrance", says Mark. "The 'cut' in this fortress-like wall will be 10 metres wide and high and it'll create a big, welcoming invitation right into the landscaped grounds inside. It'll welcome everybody in, both physically and visually."
The developers want to build a new community centre to replace the old one which was on The Pavement. A service area is planned to include a health centre, supermarket, nursery and recycling centre.
Urban Splash emphasise that they don't want to 'beautify' Park Hill too much; they want to keep it raw, strong and honest.
The area behind Sheffield station will be landscaped. A gentle sloping route will lead down to the station from the area around what was The Scottish Queen pub and the three link bridges. Mark describes the new route:
"It'll be partly on raised earth banks which we want to face in natural stone, bringing a feeling of the Peak District into the park. It will also partly be on a raised bridge-like structure that will fly over the existing cobbled street that leads up from the tram lines. It will be well-lit at night, a very clear visual corridor."
Who can live there?
Because much of the ground floor will be taken up with shops, offices, bars and restaurants there will be fewer flats than there are at the moment; 874 instead of the previous 1000.
Of the 874, one third will be 'affordable' and dealt with by the Manchester Methodist Housing Association.
The concrete is tested, then repaired and patched if necessary
Out of that third, two thirds (which is about 200 flats) will be for social rent, and the remaining third (about 60 flats) will be available for shared equity purchase (more than one party buying one flat).
Rents for these will be set by Manchester Methodist Housing Association, in line with other social rents across Sheffield.
Two thirds of the grand total (which is about 600 flats) will be for sale on the open market. The social rented accommodation will be dispersed throughout the flats. Urban Splash say they think this will lead to a balanced community. There will also be service charges, and although the developers say they don't yet know how much that will be, they say that social renting residents "will be able to afford the service costs. Even if we have to rob Peter to pay Paul..."
In the first phase, the north block will be developed. A courtyard and service area will be built close to where The Pavement shopping precinct stood. The pedestrian route to Sheffield station will be landscaped and improved and work would start on the multi-storey car park.
Urban Splash intend to keep the roofs of the lower buildings - such as the service area - landscaped and green because many residents will looking down on them from their flats.
The path to the station will be landscaped and improved
Initially the developers wanted to release the first part of the developments to people for occupying in mid to late 2010 and while they can't put a date on the completion of the whole development, Mark Latham hopes that it will be a seven to nine year time frame, taking the developments up until 2014-5; "it depends on a lot of factors though - it's very early days to predict any sort of full completion date."
Bricks and mortar
The long-term plan aims to develop more open plan flats in one, two and three storey living spaces.
The building's concrete frame and link bridges will be repaired but will essentially stay the same.
The public will be encouraged to use the shops, bars and public grounds, but the 'streets in the sky' will no longer be publicly accessible.
Access to the decks will be restricted to those who live there. This will be controlled at ground level through a key, swipe-card or buzzer system. In the past, a police station existed on-site but this will be disbanded.
There will be 874 flats in the new development, plus shops and amenities
Urban Splash says that the EcoHome Standard is part of their funding agreement.
They say that the insulation, ventilation and natural lighting plans in place will make the flats more economical. Some of the old bricks will be used in the landscaping work.
To date: June 2009
Scaffolding has been erected on the three flanks at the north end of the flats for Phase One of the project
Hammer Tests are taking place on the concrete, followed by repairing and patching the concrete in a carefully chosen colour
A colour has been chosen for repainting the banisters in the public stairwells
Test glazing has been erected near the site of the old Scottish Queen pub. Instead of one third glazing and two thirds solid wall, the developers plan to reverse this ratio. They will also use anodized aluminium instead of coloured brick
Bricks from the interior of the flats are being sorted into piles according to their colours. Waste material from the internal walls have been ground down to be used as low-grade aggregate to landscape the area and to fill beneath paving and walkways
Work began to remove interior walls and leave the exposed concrete frame
South Street was closed to the public, from the area around The Scottish Queen pub down to the bottom of Park Square roundabout
Fencing was erected around much of the area, including a large stretch on Duke Street
Approx 100 residents were left in the flats - at the top end by Talbot Street. Other residents have been moved to various council estates around Sheffield. About 200 residents plan to move back.
Park Hill primary school has been knocked down
A 'soft-strip' took place, starting at the north block (Park Square end) to remove leftover furnishings, carpets, cupboards etc
Peter Jones was a resident
Once the flats have been soft-stripped, they are handed over to contractors to start on the 'hard-strip'. Flooring, doors, wall coverings etc are removed in this phase
Park Hill Tenants and Residents Association, led by Jackie Bailey, has regular meetings with Urban Splash in the community centre. To get involved, contact Jackie at Sheffield Homes: 0114 2738613
Urban Splash held presentations in Park Hill's community centre to explain to residents and interested members of the public what stage the plans are at. The latest planning applications (for Phase One) were submitted to Sheffield City Council
Urban Splash predicted that Phase One will take about three years. Phase Two will start as soon as they have sold a certain number of properties
According to Urban Splash and Sheffield City Council, a certain number of the flats are protected for local buyers and while they need investors to buy flats, there is a restriction on how many flats can be sold to investors
7th December, 2007
Building work officially began on the flats.
What do you think of the new ideas for Park Hill? What are your memories of the flats in the past? Will the new Park Hill be a nicer place to be?
The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.
Alfisti Trev, London
I find the arrogance of English Heritage and Urban Splash stupefying. The architectural elite in this country have never gotten over accepting the blame for the disaster of mass social housing experiments of the late 1950's and 60's, of which Park Hill is the granddaddy of them all. The crasser the mistake, the more likely it is to be listed by English Heritage. See also Robin Hood Gardens, London, E14.
They still worship at the shrine of Corbusier, who apparently, never did wrong. The reasons why Park Hill, and virtually all it's contemporaries failed so dismally remain today, and pretty colours aren't going to change anything. The thing is not on a human scale and humans are never going to like living in it. If Urban Splash believe they will find 600 private purchasers, then they must be higher than the proverbial kite. 18 months ago I was reading that the project looked like bankrupting the company - presumably they've limped through. Too late to go back now of course, especially now god knows how many £M of public money via Sheffield City Council is committed.
A grotesque vanity project that should never happened. We have photos to remind us how misjudged public housing development at that time was, we don't need the buildings.
It will be a multi-coloured white elephant and should have been flattened like many other "listed" buildings of far greater merit over the years.
A Murray, Sheffield
This project is a fantastic and awe inspiring solution to the missing piece of the jigsaw in Sheffield City Centre Redevelopment.
This part of the city has long suffered from deep-seeded urban decay and many attempts at regeneration have fallen way short of the mark - not looking at the bigger picture and adopting an unsympathetic design has resulted in further social problems. On top of poor urban planning, a lack of facilities and logistical isolation from the city centre, newer developments such as the nearby flats at Blackwell Place, detract even further aesthetic appeal from the impact of the area's Brutalist architecture. Times have changed enormously in Sheffield, both sociologically and economically - a shift away from the manufacturing industry and hard labour has given way to many more secondary and tertiary industry jobs. I am confident Park Hill will reflect this change and create a thriving community of decent hard working people from all parts of society, rather than catering principally for the very wealthy or the very poor. Roll on 2012 for my first home in Park Hill!
Martin Gorman, Sheffield
I suspect there is enough local interest and certainly plenty of pictures and anecdotes from residents to make a great book about Park Hill. Is there anyone able to take it on?
We visited this site on a field trip to Sheffield. I am not commenting on the people living here but I do think the Park hill flats aren't the nicest buildings to look at (mostly due to general age and out of date architecture) and I am angry at English Heritage for preserving the concrete 'shell'. I am looking forward to seeing the newly finished park hill flats!
i have been on and off park hill flats all my life as my family live there and always have as long as i can remember who by the way aren't drug users i know many ppl on there that aint drug users and for those that are that's their choice, you will find majority of ppl on park hill flats are extremely friendly and wont do u any harm as long as you don't do them any. to be fair there is a run down part of every estate that is housed by drug users and all other kinds of social life where ever u live. so why so many ppl think that they are surrounded by better walks of life than park hill and no doubt that someone in everyone's family has a habit of some kind of drug use/violence so stop makin out that you are so perfect.
daniel pakes the park hill owl
how can all u ppl say i'm on drugs iv lived on here all my life and im 21 now iv neva used drugs
So where is the more suitable place for tramps? I think the project will be good, as long as the developers don't cut corners! Such a big piece of Sheffield's landscape needs to be a work of art. We have had some fantastic architecture recently (most of which seem to be university buildings), lets not spoil it by going cheap on this project as I suspect the Sheffield council wants! Yes we are in a credit crunch, but buildings are for life and not just for when Bankers have their sticky fingers burnt by being too greedy.
what was wrong with the combination of concrete and brick in the original design?
I cant wait for the end product. it will be fantastic. i just hope they move the tramps to a more suitable place
Blow them up!!
Quote "social renting residents will be able to afford the service costs. Even if we have to rob Peter to pay Paul." I can tell you what that means - anyone stupid enough to be a private buyer will be paying a premium to fund their non-private neighbours. Hasn't Sheffield learnt anything from its social engineering past? And if these will be such great places to live, make the architects, planners and developers live there in a standard average flat for 10 years. Mix in a few councillors and English Heritage and then you would have the right mix to understand why this eyesore should be demolished. I suspect leaving out the police station is a bit foresighted too.
I think it is a good idea to refurbish the flats so long as the surrounding area is given a makeover too! The needs of the people in that area need to be considered as you cannot just turn Park Hill flats into a Yuppie community in the flash of a wand. The area has had many problems with crime, drugs and gangs for many years and you cannot just wipe that out with a "new look" building. I am all for redevelopment rather than demolition but lots of thought needs to go into the whole area and the people who have resided there every day for years and years. The crime problem is not going to be swept under the carpet so I think there should be Police involvement and the setting up of local community groups. You usually find that people within their own community are stronger than any other force but I would recommend a Police presence in the area to protect the rights of everyone, old and new to the area. I think it would give a sense of security to those who live there now who know and live with the problems and for those thinking of buying or moving there who know the history and will expect a better standard of living than that that has existed in Park Hill in the past. Good luck with the project I hope it works out well for everyone. Investment of any kind is great for Sheffield. I have lived here all my life and I love it. It's a great friendly place. All cities of our size have their problems but I think Sheffield is one of the friendliest places I've ever been.
It'll be a hole whatever they do to it. it will always have the same reputation, no point in changing it - just knock it down and leave it and just make a new bowling ally or something useful. that would make more sense.
In modern world, modern man, is a complicated creature. will he? could he? ever! live in peace and create harmony? these question plague my consciousness and i must say these flats are good. x
I live in sheffield, i hate them but when i become a uni student if they are better then i would consider renting one
Since park hill flats are one of the first things you see when coming into Sheffield I think it's important that they look better, simply to give a good first impression. That area could be nice, but given the surrounding area and people that live there it will be difficult to attract the right kind of people to live there. I have a friend who used to live on the new development on the manor. The same problem exists there, he moved out as soon as the lease was up due to the high volume of crime and car vandalism. Its a case of having a nice flat in a bad area.
The Places Looks Great.
the appearance of the flats is not the problem, its the people they put in them.
Reading through the comments tonight I think most people are right in different ways and I respect all the arguments surrounding the debate as I too have lived in Sheffield all my life. You see it is all well and good giving Park Hill a face lift but what about the surrounding area? Are the council or the people investing so much in this new development going to help the surrounding area also? Or are they simply going to be living in the shadow of this giant once again? Maybe they should have done to Park Hill what they have just done to the Tinsley Towers and have done with the matter!
I moved to Sheffield in Jan 08 and at first sight of Park Hill i was interested to know all the history of this site which dates way back and is very interesting - the regeneration of the town is brill and if they pull off all that is promised for this area it will be a really lovely city to live in. Out with the old and in with the new i say - as estates people change so do behaviour patterns. if the area is cleaned up it will be appreciated and i'm sure looked after - i would keep the police station there though (just in case)! Make the affordable rents for those that would take care of their homes and areas and ship those out that wont and those that do not appreciate or understand how to live nicely. As to gangs and druggies and car crime, oh come on please, every city has them lets try and educate them instead of name calling.
What a waste of time and money. Is no one here clever enough to realise that they are just rebuilding the crime ridden, dirty eyesore that is already there!? and I should know - I've lived next to Park Hill for 30 yrs!! I drive past it every day and witness the gangs of youths up to no good that seem to be taking over the Talbot street side. Don't waste the time and money - knock it down - make it green land and save Sheffield from the tower block ridden city it's becoming. Listen to the people who live in Sheffield - it's our city not some developer trying to make money.
what has happen to the man neal who use to run the newsagents on the pavement park hill in 1995 i remember the newsagents but were his he now i need to no he was a good man thankyou.
the flats are mint i love them the only problem is drug uses
i used to have a flat on park hill in 1983-1984 it was on the stairwell and was number 1 long henry row. i always liked living there and there were wonderful views across to the city centre. I never came across any trouble while i lived there and i would love to go back when its finished to see how it looks. all the ideas sound really good but i think there should be more to let than the 200 that have been allocated. good luck
The scale of Park Hill and the architecture is very impressive and I always prefer refurb to new build BUT...600 flats on the free market is crazy! I appreciate that the developers want owner occupiers but I ask you...would you buy one? Sheffield has a massive shortage of social housing stock (after flogging it all to Housing Associations. As a consequence we have an obscene number of people in B&B's (which are squalid and not fit for a dog!) and vulnerable women have to go to Nottingham because there are no women's interim accommodation! The proposal to have only 200 social housing flats available for rent is outrageous and needs revising! (in my opinion)
I think it's not fair that we are blaming a building for problems, and nor should we blame its community. The underlying affects are from the state of our own society- not a building; not a 'type' of people in a community. But society. Your forget that when Park Hill was in its prime; industry was to an all time low- the people housed in those flats would have been under loads of pressure of debt and unemployment. Regardless of the state of Sheffo these days, people are still suffering from poverty 20-30 years later. I'm glad that Urban Splash have taken this project on because it sounds amazing. I have faith that it won't just become one of those 'luxury apartments' that dominate Sheffield, that look all the same. Where are Sheffield's characteristic buildings going? I don't want our Sheffo looking like Leeds that looks like Manchester that looks like every echo city in the UK. Please, think creatively. And ReThink. Imagine what the consequences will be, of today's postmodern cliche bland architecture models that dominate the city. I don't mind luxury apartments, if they're socially engaging and creatively designed that interact with its environment. Also why luxury apartments? Why not great housing for ALL the people, not a select few.
The place needs tearing down. I don't care how much they try to change it, truth is you cannot make a silk purse out of a sows ear. Give it a couple of years and it will be as bad for crime and grime as it ever was. Its a depressing place no matter how you choose to tart it up. I spent about a year living on Hyde park (SSDD) in the 80's and it was enough to make me want to throw myself off the balcony. Depressing crime filled dump of a place.
It will need many CCTV's and security to make it work otherwise it'll be just the same as the old one
I live near Park Hill for near on 20 years and as time (and the poor economic state of the city) went by, it became a no-go area at night for people walking around on their own - not a safe place by any means. It's a shame that the people who originally lived on those flats were never given a chance from the start. I would love to see the whole place pulled down and replaced by something decent - but that will not happen as it's the people who don't live (around) there who want to keep it standing. The same stupid mentality that made me leave Sheffield (and the UK).
i think refurbishing Park Hill Flats is a fantastic idea and i'm all for it! will be visiting it when its finished!
Will they allow the same sort of community back there as that's what brought it down in the first place
Park hill has always been a "no go" area for me but according to the proposals I'd buy a flat if it turned out like is planned with a mixed social grouping, not a slum as it is now.
Any re-furbished community will only prove to be good in the long-term if the people that eventually live within it both care for it and in some ways, self police it. I would like to see this project become successful but that will be very dependant on the eventual tenants as well as outside investors.
well i think it all looks good from what i have seen of the photos. as a young girl i watched the park hill being built. and enjoyed my teens around the flats. and the coffee bar where we all met up, and the youth clubs, yes i think park hill flats should stay.
Both my brothers used to live in the flats and i used to dread every visit. The people who lived round there were on drugs or up to even worse. The area not being much better. The idea of recreating a better Park Hill is a risk but good luck with it.
So who is paying for all this? Do they really think park hill will ''thrive'' ? As-if
Cliff says that the mutual consensus of the people who live around there is that it is not very nice. This isn't true at all. People always think the worst and think they know what they're talking about when they're actually the people who have the least experience of living there. I really look forward to them regenerating South Street and the bit at the bottom near the tram bridge though as that bit is pretty dark and dingy.
I've seen park hill's slow decay. The idea to regenerate sounds good (in theory) but who would want to buy there with its reputation and the area it is in. I know people that used to live there, and people that live near there. And the consensus is mutual. Its not very nice.
I was born and bought up in Sheff but now live near Corby, Northamptonshire, a town with very similar problems regarding run-down town centre housing. Whilst I applaud the efforts regarding Park Hill flats you get the feeling you are papering over the cracks. Good luck anyway
I think that it will be great place for the first 2 years then it will gradually morph back to what it was before - a place where crime, poverty, drugs and antisocial behaviour thrive.
Where will the council re-home all the druggies and louts. It seems to me that the council will only make life difficult on other estates.
I lived at Park hill back in the 70's was brill. I was quite upset when I walked passed Park hill school on my walk in to town one Saturday morning to find that they had knocked it down. end of an era
Whatever work is undertaken at Park Hill flats will be completely worthless if the 'right type' of people are living there. A high percentage of unemployed or impoverished people stacked on top of one another in such a small area can only result in one thing - a slow but sure decline in ghetto style living. Surely it is clear to all, that this is exactly what has reduced Park Hill to what it is today?
I love the implication that a third of flats will be 'affordable' and thus the remaining two thirds will be by extension unaffordable!
Hi I have no connection to Park Hill but found it very interesting and encouraging to read what you are trying to do and wish you well with the project. I was just a little concerned by the Robbing Peter to pay Paul idea. I have nothing against that in principle, but if those who can afford to buy pay more for the service charges they are going to have a greater stake and interest in looking after the properties than those in the social housing. I think careful consideration needs giving to this to try to give those in the social housing more of a reason to act responsibly. I grew up in social housing and this responsibility was evident 50 years ago but nowadays it is a very different story with many in social housing feeling no responsibility whatever and relying on the council etc to put right their wilful neglect and vandalism. It hardly seems fair that those who pay more in the first place may have also to bear the cost of maintaining the properties and rectifying any vandalism and could put people off buying on the open market unless measures are in place to get around this. Tenure would need to be dependent upon behaviour. I really hope that you get this good mix of community and that your project is a success. I think it very commendable in the current times that you are taking steps to keep a building and improve upon it with the community in mind, rather than simply developing for pure profit and investment.
its an ok idea to have "social housing" but surely this would just be a case of changing the housing and not the people??unless you change the people the place will just become as it is now.
do not think too much as one day everything will be destroyed by nature.
I've lived there for over ten years, and now live in the top end, as I want to stay once the refurbishment work is done. One of the main things I do is occasional work as a cabaret artiste, so I welcome the plans for a dance studio and an art gallery. Also, a 'Gay' bar/ small club would be a nice addition; something along the lines of the old Cossack on Howard street, which closed three years ago. However, the No. 1 Priority in my opinion is affordable housing (and jobs) for local people, from whatever background, rather than expensive flats for 'blow ins' from outside.
It all sounds well and good...wait until the graffiti returns and the youths loiter around