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Page last updated at 08:22 GMT, Tuesday, 13 October 2009 09:22 UK
The fate of Sheffield's old Wellington St fire station
Wellington Street fire station, Sheffield
Sheffield's Wellington Street fire station was abandoned in March 2009. The Council want to demolish it; other people want to see the building reused

The demolition of the old fire station on Wellington Street in Sheffield begun.

Since South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue moved to a new state-of-the-art building on Eyre Street in March, the fire engines are all gone from Wellington Street.

Windows soon became smashed and the building looked generally dilapidated - and then in June 2010 Sheffield Council began work demolishing the building.

They intend to use the space as a car park until the Sevenstone redevelopment of the area around the Moor can go ahead.

But green campaigners and some locals had wanted the building to be saved and a new use to be found for it.

Rupert Wood lives near the fire station is one of those people campaigning to keep it. He started a Facebook group called 'Stop the Demolition of Sheffield (not so) old Fire Station.'

Before confirmation of the building's demolition, Rupert told BBC Radio Sheffield's Toby Foster what he liked about the building:

"The old fire station has an imposing, castle-like look in the city centre. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea but I like it. The sloping, ramped brickwork is reminiscent of Stirling's 1960s architecture in Cambridge."

The demolition of Sheffield's Wellington Street fire station
The demolition of Sheffield's Wellington Street fire station in June 2010

Members of the Facebook group suggested the building be turned into an arts centre or interim housing for the homeless - but Colin Ross, Sheffield Council's Cabinet Member for Employment, Enterprise & Development, said that it is hard to envisage another use for the purpose-built fire station and that demolition is the only sensible option for the city:

"It is a unique design as a fire station - a hexagonal structure with a lot of internal corridors and supporting walls which would be hard to adapt. We don't want a derelict building decaying in the heart of the city - that would certainly send the wrong message."

Rupert Wood and the Facebook group are fed up with piles of rubble in Sheffield, and say that and another empty space in the city centre will be demoralising:

"An open car park isn't exactly going to beautify the city centre. The air of depravation it will introduce to the heart of the city will be really rather morale-damaging."

Sevenstone development

Sheffield's Sevenstone development
Sevenstone has been delayed until 2011

The future of the area around Wellington Street is tied to Sevenstone, the proposed development which will stretch from Barkers Pool to the top of The Moor. The scope of the development will include John Lewis, the old fire station and the Grosvenor House Hotel at Charter Square.

In November 2009, development company Hammerson announced that the development will not start until 2011 because of the country's economic downturn.

Sheffield Councillor Colin Ross says that Sheffield residents should not be disturbed by the empty shops and that the council are trying to get businesses back into the empty area temporarily:

"A baby shop and one of the cafe bars is opening again. We are actively looking for people to occupy the shops and I'm working with the Architecture Department at Sheffield University to find ways of keeping the area looking vibrant."

Sheffield city centre
Many shops around Charter Square and Pinstone Street were emptied in preparation for Sevenstone

Colin Ross strongly feels that the right time will eventually come for the Sevenstone development to go ahead. He says the future for the old fire station site is a car park until an upturn in the economy makes Sevenstone viable:

"We want to maintain momentum so that when the upturn comes and the economic circumstances are right, which I'm confident will happen, we are in a position for [the development] to happen without further delay and costly expense waiting for the demolition of that fire station."

Rupert Wood and others are sceptical about whether Sevenstone will go ahead at all:

"Rational people may well think that it may never get off the ground in the current economic circumstances, so where is Plan B? Surely the old fire station could be regarded as one of the assets in a revised version of the redevelopment of this part of the city centre."

According to Councillor Ross, postponing demolition of the building would be far more costly in the long run. Sheffield City Council secured £600,000 external funding from the Housing & Communities Association, which they say needs to be spent in the 2009-10 financial year otherwise it would be lost.

"If we don't take the opportunity to demolish the old fire station now, the cost will fall on the council to demolish it at a later date," says Councillor Ross. "It would be a burden on the council in the interim, and then we would have the expense of maintaining and eventually demolishing it. We are saving the Council Tax payers of Sheffield in the order of £600,000 by demolishing it now."

Have your say

What do you think? Should the old fire station have been saved? What should it have been used for? Or is another car park the right solution for Sheffield city centre? Have your say via the form below.

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Kevin Stones, Chesterfield

I never liked the design anyway. Very uninspiring. Typical drab 70s feel about it. Sheffield deserves more. The sooner they knock down the Manpower building the better - the same style and mentality went into its appearance. Plus, why are we waiting for Sevenstone to see an upturn before they start? Surely if they start the project now they will have finished by the time the recession has ended and enjoy some boom years.

Davie Kelly, Rotherham

They should have saved the building and used it for the museum instead, granted there is already a Fire and Police museum in Sheffield, but I am sure there would have been some use for the old fire station as an extension to the present fire museum situated at West Bar.

Claire, Sheffield

I think it should be pulled down and the land used for hostels or homeless shelters, as there are not enough homeless shelters around Sheffield.

Leigh, Sheffield

I live in that area and think the building is a real icon (if a bit creepy at night!) They should turn it into flats similar to the West One development, seeing as it's in such a desired location - would bring in a ton of money for the council, especially if they rent to students who I know pay around £332 a week for a 4 bedroom flat on Wellington Street.

Linda Brown, Sheffield

Not a car park, there are too many car parks - save that old fire station.

AM, Sheffield

The inside looks (and smells) even more disgusting than the outside so there's really no use saving it. The full size indoor basketball court and the bar were the only interesting things in there anyway.

June Stannard, Sheffield

What the goverment and council call old is new by my standards. If it's old and looks disgusting, it stays up. If it's not too bad we pull it down. Some of the brick housing has been up more years but is still standing. 40 years is not old, 100 years is old.

Rob Metcalfe, Sheffield

If it was not fit for purpose in the first place. It makes no sense to keep it. Redevelopment seems the best option if done properly and in keeping with the new town centre.

David Windle, Sheffield

The Wellington Street Fire station is an ugly monolith - reminiscent of the "ziggurat" at Moorfoot - which is also coming down soon. The "old" fire station is now a pub/bar/restaurant on Division Street and the one before that is at the Corporation Street roundabout. Let the ground be used for something useful - bring it down as soon as possible.

Gordon Lenihan, Sheffield

Why not let our Fire Station Museum use it, how more fitting is that.

Dave, Sheffield

The internal fabric of the building is in a very poor condition and has been for a long time. It will only get worse the longer it is unoccupied, apart from its underground car park I can't see it being of any use to anyone. Pull it down.

Kirsty, Sheffield

Demolish it! It is an eyesore and there is no use for it. Put something else there whether it be a car park (there's limited spaces in the city centre as it is) or build something modern looking for young people to go to get them off the street and out of gang crime!!

Proterra

Why not use it as it is for the time being , it was a car park for fire engines so there is parking inside and access through to the yard at the back. As suggested by others the other parts of the building could be used as a homeless shelter.

Junade, Sheffield

I think it should stay, and be turned into a fire museum. Or into flats or private accommodation.

Andrew, Sheffield

It should never have been built in the first place.

Alexander the Meerkat, Sheffield

This building SHOULD NOT be demolished. Instead it could be used as a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen as sadly there is still a number of homeless people in that area of Sheffield.




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