As a key stakeholder in the development of the Heart of the City II development, Sheffield Civic Trust have been asked to contribute to the pre-application consultation on the next phase (Block H) of the development, bounded by Cambridge and Wellington Street, and including the Grade II* Listed Leah’s Yard.
As supporters and members of the Trust, we would like to extend the information regarding the public events providing the opportunity to see the plans and speak to the project team.
Wednesday 25 March 202015:30-19:00 Thursday 26 March 2020 11:00-16:00
38-40 Pinstone Street (most recently home to ‘Clicks and Mortar’) Sheffield S1 2HN
Trustees who are able to attend will be at the event on 25th March from 6pm. Please join us if possible as we review the latest proposals and talk to the project team.
For those that cannot attend in person, the dedicated website (www.heartofcity2.com) has been updated to include information about the current pre-application consultation. Visitors to the website will have the opportunity to complete an online response form about these proposals.
Sheffield Civic Trust Feedback in response to the consultation on Sheffield’s Heart of the City 2, Block B & C
Sheffield Civic Trust (SCT) thanks Queensbury, Counter Context and the design team at Leonard Design, for presenting the current proposals for The Heart of the City 2 to the membership. The Trust recognises how the briefing from Sheffield City Council has resulted in the retention of much loved heritage buildings, despite their non designated status. The City Council’s vision in acting as client and driving the brief to the benefit of the city is welcomed. SCT support the scheme especially on the following aspects; – the horizontal mix of use i.e. retail at street level with apartments and offices at the upper levels – access to upper floors with entrances from the street – the block by block, phased approach outlined in the presentation – the focus on a mix of uses that the current market is not supporting i.e. 2/3 bedroom apartments with quality external space rather than student housing. – retention of the existing street pattern – high-quality public space, that continues the approach taken throughout the city centre – proposed historic façade retention.
Detailed design comments Whilst the façade retention is welcomed, the gridded façade ‘folding’ into the existing pitched roof of the existing building (Laycock House) was considered awkward in some members’ minds. As this is a prominent corner, a more sensitive design solution should be considered. The architectural treatment of corners of both blocks on to the new ‘5 ways’ are a great opportunity for the designers. Seven Dials in London’s Covent Garden was raised as a good precedent for the design. It was felt that the opportunity to mark this significant meeting of streets has been missed in the current design. It was felt that the glazing proportions proposed within the new buildings should respect the order and hierarchy of the existing street facades more closely. Fenestration which denotes a top, middle and bottom may be more successful. The tendency towards expressing the top of the buildings in ‘zinc hats’ should be avoided, given their prevalence in speculative schemes over the last decade. The proposal for vertical stripes at the top of Laycock House currently give the appearance of cladding, similar to that used recently on a prominent car park in the city. Higher quality materials and detailing rather than the cladding shown are felt to be more appropriate. For instance the larger duplex units that top Block B could be expressed whilst retaining the materials and architectural language of the rest of the block. The servicing of the retail units from pedestrianised roads rather than a dedicated service yard is welcomed but will require careful management. This could ensure the strategy to reduce traffic congestion works, by encouraging workers to linger in the city centre after work.
Over view The current approach of developing the Heart of the City 2 block by block has great potential for a rich and diverse mix of architecture uses and streets in the heart of our city. This richness is emerging in the public realm, which looks both complex and exciting and is all about Sheffield.. The retention of historic facades will reinforce this diversity and local identity. However of concern is the emerging similarity in the building designs to date. The architectural expression of grids and cladding now emerging on the HSBC building is to be repeated on Blocks B&C. This reinforces the Trust’s belief that a more diverse range of designers should be employed to tie the scheme better to its context. For future plots, we would welcome a commitment from SCC to promote more variation and design quality by committing to either design competitions or a diverse mix of designers/architects for each plot . This approach was adopted at Liverpool One and has resulted in a wide range of architecture which enhances the experience of the city. Liverpool One avoids any uniformity or blandness in favour of a rich sequence of spaces and buildings which knit the development into the city – We do not want the blandness of Meadowhall transplanted into our city. We do want a more distinctive, new heart to our city that says ‘Sheffield!’ We hope that Sheffield City Council will consider supporting local suppliers in the awarding of the construction contracts, and proactively implement the Social Value Act, by considering inclusion of local labour clauses as appropriate when commissioning the development. Whilst the aim for high quality city centre living with a range of types of dwelling is laudable, the City Council should have a long-term plan for a range of ownership, to avoid gentrification that precludes a fair and equitable city centre for its citizens. We look forward to seeing the planning application in due course, and to engaging with the relevant parties as the Heart of the City 2 scheme goes forward.
Louise Watt Chair Sheffield Civic Trust on behalf of the Trustees. October 2018
The Sheffield Civic Trust (SCT) held a supplementary consultation event in June 2015 on proposals for the Sheffield Retail Quarter which ran alongside the main consultation. This was widely advertised through our supporters network via the SCT newsletter. The Sheffield Retail Quarter team is to be commended for committing time and effort to the SCT event and to committing to a continuing process of consultation.
The event was well attended and this, along with a briefing held earlier in the year with SCC lead officer, Nalin Seneviratne and SCT Trustee’s feedback from the official consultation, forms the basis of the Trust’s response.
The SCT has featured some of the detailed comments received on the SCT blog. We have also put out a call for further comment and contributions and aim to submit these to the Sheffield Retail Quarter team as a continuing process.
The challenge of the earlier Sevenstone scheme was how to integrate a shopping centre into the centre of the city. For this new scheme, the SCT wants to see a renewed city centre with great streets and squares and retail/offices and homes – rather than a stealth shopping centre or a quarter only designed for the needs of retail.
We recognise that the scheme proposed is bold, creating new streets linked to new and existing public spaces. The scheme is shaping up with an emphasis on streets, quality of spaces and conservation of historic buildings – all these aspects are welcomed and supported by the Trust. The feedback here is intended to be detailed, informed and positive. We have reviewed various themes that have been raised during the consultation and we aim to make clear recommendations on this basis.
3. Renewing our city centre
The scheme clearly responds well to the feedback from retailers. The new Fargate, the square outside John Lewis and the linking street back to the Peace Gardens and Pinstone Street form a circulation route of desirable retail space. It is like the diagram of a shopping centre made up of open air streets and squares: this works well but does result in large block sizes.
The challenge will be for this new development to fit well with the existing grain of the city centre and not appear as a new monolithic development. The conservation of various buildings within the development area is a good start but the proposals are still indicative and the model shows monolithic blocks and large plots.
The city centre is made up of a mix of uses and to work well as a safe and lively place throughout the day and across the seasons a monoculture of single use must be avoided. This scheme has the potential to increase density and the mix of uses right at the centre of our city. It will be essential to achieve mixed use horizontally (in layers) as continental cities do to create an vibrant city centre.
The residential component of this plan is underdeveloped in the current plans. Perhaps The City Council are worried that rooftop residential development will add risk to the scheme. There is enthusiasm within SCT for innovative urban housing design, offering a fantastic city centre neighbourhood that sets the standard for urban living in the UK.
Whilst the accent on mixed use is vital to a vibrant city centre, the impact of more intensive noise-generating use on other users must be considered carefully.
The increase in density and double stacking of units should allow for the planning of shops at street level with apartments, offices and facilities for city centre residents above (gyms, galleries, social places, etc). Offices that also break the mould might be included and it follows that access to offices, facilities and homes should be from doorways on the streets. This will ensure activity and safe streets 24/7. This mix of uses could also result in a more varied and richer roofscape.
One representation we received from a long time supporter, Matthew Conduit is worth quoting here : “Without a mix of different design approaches, there is a danger of the scheme looking and feeling like one massive shopping centre development, rather than an extension to a mixed urban and vibrant street scene.”
Disability access should be considered at this early stage of planning to ensure a fully accessible development.
It is important that there should be facilities for families who come into the city centre because it makes life easier when having to take small children shopping. Play space could include small climbing sculptures and have dual purpose, both artistic and useful!
that a rich mix of uses be achieved
that the density of development and activity must be maximised
doorways and stairs/lift cores to upper level uses should face the street
facilities for city centre residents should be included in the mix
that the opportunity to build innovative urban housing design is not missed
that the type of homes should offer alternatives to the current offer i.e. apartments for people downsizing with appropriate amenities
the type of offices should offer alternatives to the current offer i.e. upper floor large floor plate, large span, top lit offices work?
design for disability access should be built in to design from the beginning
green space and sensitive landscape design are essential
play space in the public domain areas should be considered.
The importance of this development being ‘Sheffield like’ and not like any other city has come up in most conversations. The recent outcry about the loss of independent traders in the Devonshire Quarter demonstrates this, people love their city because it is different and has a strong streak of independence. How the designers meet this challenge will be key to the success of the retail quarter.
It is understood that the proposals do not show the architecture of the developed scheme and that what we see on the model and 3d drawings is indicative. Concern was raised at the consultation presentation about ‘the architectural character of the proposal’ and the need for the place to be ‘individual, unique to Sheffield – not like Guildford’ and this view is shared by many people.
The proposal for an RIBA competition from The Sheffield Society of Architects is a welcome one, and the selection of a range of the best architectural talent as designers for the buildings will ensure variety and specific responses to Sheffield’s identity.
The illustration of the new square demonstrates the worry many have expressed as it looks like it could be a retail quarter in Liverpool, Birmingham or Manchester, or even the Middle East. It is dynamic and may sell the scheme to retailers but the reaction from Sheffielders is that it is not the image of their city. The quality of this crucial new square needs to build on the characteristics of our much loved public space – craftsmanship, quality materials and planting. The architectural backdrop needs to speak of or respond to Sheffield in some way.
It is essential that all of the streets and public spaces within the new scheme’s layout are genuinely public space and not spaces which just have public rights of ways through them. It would be retrograde step if any streets which are currently completely open are downgraded to become managed quasi-public/private space and lose their open access.
The quality of landscape will be vital and should build on the character of the city and its many green spaces, as has been achieved in the Heart of the City development.
serious consideration of how the scheme differentiates from other city centres must be made and set out in the briefs for the designers.
that the blocks be designed as smaller plots of individually designed buildings to ensure variation and a distinct character
designers/architects should be selected on the basis of location, design quality and competition
we specifically support an RIBA competition for at least one building plot as suggested by the Sheffield Society of Architects
that a mixed design procurement approach is taken to ensure that some smaller, less ‘corporate’ design studios contribute.
The Sheffield Retail Quarter must feel like a continuous part of our city centre and be accessible to all, with no gates or privatisation.
5. Connections / the anchor stores
The design concept is reliant on the anchors of the large department stores – M&S and John Lewis. M&S is currently well integrated into Fargate, however the large store proposed at the end of new Fargate acts as a full stop, that turns its back on Trafalgar Street and the area beyond, and will discourage pedestrian flow through this part of the site to Fitzwilliam Street, Devonshire Green and Division Street. The car park, potential bus/taxi drop off, service area and click and collect proposals behind this anchor store all have the potential to exacerbate this disconnection.
The all important sightline from Fargate to the new John Lewis has been questioned. It is a strong generator cutting across the street pattern, but the line is not completely straight and clear and will it work as conceived? Some were not convinced by the sightline when looking at the model. Perhaps the revealing of the store is a better townscape principal – think the gently curving Oxford High Street and Gordon Cullen’s work where experiencing the sequence of spaces and the staged revealing of a street or place makes for a better experience.
The long view along the new Fargate to the new anchor (John Lewis) looks to be dominated by the revamped Telephone House. From both the model and sketch perspectives this slab block that will sit behind John Lewis could dominate this important vista. Accurate computer generated Images and detailed studies are needed to convince us that this key view will work. The massing and external treatment of the new store will be essential to the success of the sight line and vista along the new Fargate.
There is clearly strong support for John Lewis remaining in the city centre and for it to be one of the anchors but there is no plan B if John Lewis does not agree to move. It is therefore a major concern that the current scheme is dependant on the current store being demolished.
If the existing John Lewis store is demolished then its replacement should have a sense of grandeur, civic pride and scale that its prominent position in Barkers Pool and opposite City Hall demands. It is important that this replacement building is given as much attention as the new ‘anchor store’.
It is also important that Barker’s Pool does not feel downgraded or bypassed as the back of the new scheme. Barker’s Pool is a much loved civic space and proud home of the city’s war memorial. The new Fargate will be an important pedestrian access route into the new scheme but this shouldn’t be prioritised over Barkers Pool. The circulation pattern could be more like a Y-shape with one branch leading into the new scheme and the other leading into Barkers Pool and towards Division Street.
convincing pedestrian links past the new dept store (John Lewis) to Devonshire Quarter need to made
the key sight line to John Lewis and sequence as the pedestrian moves through the new streets needs to be explored and communicated
a contingency scheme/ plan “B” is needed should John Lewis not move
Barker’s Pool must be considered as an important public space and link through to Division Street.
6. Future proofing, displacement and meanwhile uses
There has been much discussion within the SCT about what retail will look like in 20/30 and even 50 years time and how the retail quarter will respond to this. Currently the retail space proposed responds to the views and needs of potential tenants, but is the large floor plate, deep plan, narrow frontage space future proof – if these stores are moving towards a showroom with pick up, are the floor plates shown the future and can flexibility be built in?
The current scheme has two strong anchor stores, M&S and John Lewis and a new circuit, drawing the city centre onwards the core and shortening the retail spine. This raises the issue of displacement. As the retail spine reduces in length what replaces the empty units on Castlegate? The displacement of shops with other sustainable uses needs to be planned and be integral to the current plans.
that future patterns of shopping are taken into account
that deep plan, narrow frontages with solid floor plates should be questioned and future models of retail space be considered
that the effect on adjacent areas of the shrinking retail strip are planned and managed
the large frieze on the rear of Barkers Pool House by leading 20th century sculptor William Mitchell should be retained and moved to a more prominent position within the new scheme.
contemporary artists should be commissioned to produce public artwork within the new public spaces and on new buildings.
7. Retention of Historic Buildings, Street pattern, Conservation and Public Art
The retention of public buildings is an aspect of the scheme that has been universally welcomed. The new Fargate puts Leah’s Yard at the centre of the scheme and the use of this space for food could work, and would bring a use to the courtyard space. The value of this space on the new Fargate should not however exclude consideration of other uses.
A cultural/creative/independent use for Leah’s Yard, or other historic buildings might bring richness and broader appeal to the scheme. The Bluecoats Gallery in Liverpool One is a good example of what a cultural use could bring to the retail quarter. The city could work with one of the many cultural organisations to look at the possibilities of this space. Space for charities and third sector uses should be considered to ensure a vibrant mix of uses and access for a broad section of the population.
One of our supporters, Craig Broadwith made a key point that the heritage is about the townscape, not just the buildings. The new quarter is being designed around a major store and new retail street, Fargate rather than working with the historic street pattern. What results is a breakdown of the streets around the new department store (John Lewis) and poor connectivity behind it. Perhaps this is a necessary sacrifice to make the development work, however if so the effects on connectivity should be mitigated.
The wholesale destruction of what exists within the Sheffield Retail Quarter boundary to create several new streets, rather than working within existing street patterns presents a huge risk. This contrasts with the way improvements are being phased on The Moor which has the effect of mitigating the potential for blight. Conservation of historic street patterns would allow more retention of buildings and allow a more gradual renewal.
the retention of the existing street pattern to achieve the same outcomes should be considered
that links up to the Devonshire Quarter from the new square and around the new John Lewis be reconsidered and improved
that arts and cultural uses should be considered in the mix at street level
that provision of space for charities and the third sector should be considered.
There was enthusiasm for good pubic transport links and for sorting out the circulation of buses within the city core. Questions have been raised about the facilities for cyclists and for convenient cycle and car parking for short visits.
Pedestrians, cyclists and drivers navigating through traffic to the proposed retail quarter have not been fully considered. Consideration of pedestrians, cyclists is not clearly shown in the proposals. If the Sheffield Retail Quarter is successful this and all the other central car parks will fill up, as will the roads. Sheffield will suffer poorer air quality as a result.
The proposed car parking will be further from the retail core than present. With the closure of John Lewis, Grosvenor and Wellington Street and old Fire Station car parks, it should be demonstrated that the new levels and distribution of parking will not affect the economic performance of the wider city centre as well as the SRQ.
The scheme moves the centre of gravity of the city centre away from the tram network so tram users will also find the city centre shops less accessible. The removal of buses from Pinstone Street would also make city centre shops less accessible to bus users. A two directional bus service via Pinstone Street would make it easier to ‘step off’ and shop.
If major bus routes through Pinstone Street are to be removed, this could be an opportunity to reintroduce the ‘FreeBee’ bus service which uses smaller buses and could operate in a loop in and around the SRQ. Such a service could provide a link between the scheme and tram stops.
the need for, and distribution of new car parking should be reviewed
a thoroughly modelled transport plan to meet future demands for air quality, exercise and public transport should be undertaken
that the designers fully consider how cyclists use the scheme and encourage cycling by making bike parking and routes, safe secure and convenient
that public transport stops (both bus and tram) be accessible and convenient, whilst keeping the new streets vehicle free
The Sheffield Retail Quarter team has committed to a continuous process of consultation. The Trust is keen to respond in an active and positive way to this commitment. This document has been compiled from a passionate body of opinion, compiled from views expressed by SCT trustees and supporters.
We welcome this genuine initiative and have made definite recommendations on each area of considered. We see this as the first step in efforts to make this the best scheme for Sheffield and an example to the rest of the major UK cities.
We therefore ask for detailed consideration of our recommendations and clear and a comprehensive response.
This is Sheffield’s opportunity to be confident and create a liveable, forward looking city centre which has a strong identity and sense of place.
Thanks to Matt Hutton and Bruce Raw from Bond Bryan, Nick Jones from Turner & Townsend and David Holland from Sheffield Hallam University for taking the time to present Sheffield Hallam University’s revised proposals for SHU’s Charles Street scheme to Sheffield Civic Trust’s design review panel and for answering our questions.
NB – This graphic image of the Charles Street Elevation relates to the emerging draft scheme and is produced with Bond Bryan’s permission
The following observations reflect the consensus of the design review panel:
The revised proposals have successfully addressed many of our previous concerns by providing a more active and animated ground floor elevation onto Charles Street, respecting Brown Lane and the established grid pattern of streets within this part of the Cultural Industries Quarter (CIQ) and achieving an elegant built frontage onto Charles Street that respects the streetscene on this vital pedestrian route.
Greater use of glazed openings at ground level allied with the proposed corner cafe onto Charles Street and Arundel Gate will provide better animation and surveillance of these public thoroughfares to the benefit of pedestrians. Whilst the operational constraints of the proposed lecture theatre are understood the revised scheme suggests the inclusion of design elements that will provide playful and interesting decorative features.
However, the panel was disappointed that previously available views of the ‘sawtooth’ rooftop features may longer exist from Charles Street under the revised proposals, which would be a shame.
In addition, the trees shown on Charles Street looked out of place and merely tokenistic rather than well considered landscape additions. We understand that the City Council is likely to take responsibility for addressing this matter separately nonetheless we would prefer to see the building opening out onto a pedestrianised area with quality hard and soft landscaping akin to what’s been achieved elsewhere in the city centre.
The treatment of the brickwork elevations, with the introduction of texture and pattern adjacent to Butcher Works, were also seen as a positive intervention in contrast to panels of brickwork interrupted only by windows. Nonetheless, in our view the pattern of window openings should respect the gradation of opening sizes exhibited in the neighbouring Butcher Works.
The proposed inclusion and treatment of Brown Lane was on the whole well received. The decision to respect this feature and the commitment to improved materials, including paving and glazed doors, were welcomed. We also welcome the commissioning of the renowned designer, Corin Mellor, for the footbridge which has scope to be a stunning feature. As with all schemes appropriate detailing will be key to the success of these proposals.
The reduction in the extent of brickwork on the Eyre Street elevation of the building has improved the appearance of the building when viewed from that vantage point.
Finally, the panel welcomed the university’s commitment, aspiration and continued appetite to regenerate this derelict site by building a new, high quality, scheme at a time of financial constraint, particularly given the slow pace of other developments in the city.
The design review panel felt the revised proposals had successfully addressed the majority of our concerns about the previous scheme which had been refused planning permission by the City Council. In particular, the revised proposals will:-
provide a more active and animated ground floor elevation onto Charles Street;
respect Brown Lane and the established grid pattern of streets within this part of the Cultural Industries Quarter (CIQ); and
achieve an elegant built frontage onto Charles Street that respects the streetscene on this vital pedestrian route.
It is vitally important that priority is afforded to the needs of pedestrians along the important route through the Cultural Industries Quarter CIQ, which connects Park Hill and the railway station with the City Centre and the planned gateway to the Sevenstone retail development.
Subject to confirmation of appropriate detailing and concurrent landscape proposals, particularly for the pedestrianised section of Charles Street and Brown Lane, we believe the building has scope to make a positive contribution and support the renaissance of this part of the CIQ and the city centre as a whole.
We understand that the revised proposals will be developed in readiness to support a planning application in the near future. In these circumstances, we trust that our observations will inform the emerging development proposals.