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.

Conclusion

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.

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