A rushed-through, cut-price Castlegate or the jewel in Sheffield’s crown?
Plus, a new book featuring Park Hill and Gleadless Valley
Good afternoon readers — and welcome to our Monday briefing.
We’ve done a lot about Castlegate in recent weeks — but we think it’s justified. The historic area is where Sheffield began to grow from in the middle ages and has been a place where residents have shopped, socialised and entertained themselves ever since. Sadly, in recent years the area has declined, but when the council was awarded millions of pounds of Levelling Up money to regenerate the former Castle Market site, a brighter future beckoned. This week we find out what the council is proposing to do with that money — and what campaigners think of their plans.
As well as that, we have a gorgeous home in Ranmoor, the moving story of a Sheffield soldier whose body has finally been laid to rest, and a new book about the history of social housing.
Catch up and coming up
“It’s not falling apart, it’s fallen apart.” Those were the stark words of Sheffield barrister Gul Nawaz Hussain KC in our weekend read about backlogs at the city’s Crown Court. You can read that piece here.
Last week we sent out two great newsletters to our 898 paying members. The first was a piece by me about a group of Sheffield artists who emigrated to Canada and helped change their adopted country’s art. And the second was a piece by our regular contributor David Bocking about the buzzword that is currently driving much of Sheffield council’s thinking on development and regeneration — placemaking. An extract from that second piece is below.
Some of the principles of ‘placemaking’ were around long before the term became fashionable in urban planning circles. The ideas of prioritising people, especially pedestrians, and creating nice spaces in towns and cities reflecting local traditions and character, are there in the public spaces of Barcelona and the redesigned streets and neighbourhoods of Amsterdam. Some say they were also there in post war council housing estates, in the north and east of Sheffield, for example, before everyone wanted a car and priorities changed.
This week we’ll send out two more including my delayed editor’s edition and another by David Bocking about how our city’s green spaces are going to fare as council budgets are cut still further in the next few years. To get both of those and help fund a new way of doing journalism in Sheffield focused on serving readers rather than advertisers, please consider subscribing using the button below. It costs just £1.34 a week if you pay upfront for a year.
Editor’s note: The Tribune is now tantalisingly close to 900 members. Once we get there, we can set our sights on our next main goal of 1,000 subscribers. We’d like to get there by Christmas but we need your help. If we do, early in the New Year we will be able to think about hiring a new member of staff and taking on more in depth stories and investigations.
The big picture: Let there be light 🎇
Thanks to Ben Harrison for letting us use his amazing photo of fireworks at Illuminate the Gardens at Sheffield Botanical Gardens at the weekend. You can find more of his work here.
This week’s weather ⛅️
Our weather forecast comes from dedicated Sheffield weather service Steel City Skies, who say low pressure sets up to the west or northwest, with high pressure to the southeast. A windy week from the southwest prevails, with mild and unsettled weather favoured.
Monday ☔ A warm front quickly brings thicker cloud and outbreaks of rain across the region, with gusty southerly winds developing. Highs of 14°C.
Tuesday 🌦️ A weakening cold front brings the threat of further blustery showers in between brighter spells. Fairly mild, though with an exacerbating breeze. Highs of 13°C.
Wednesday ⛅ Fewer showers with some sunnier spells coming through. Remaining breezy from the southwest with highs of 13°C.
Thursday 🌥️ Cloud likely to increase as the next fronts approach, but drier weather is favoured on current timings. Milder air from the south with highs of 15°C.
Friday ☁️ High pressure to the southeast does battle with the low to the northwest. A threat of showers, but drier periods too. Very mild with highs of 16°C.
Outlook: A very mild and often dry weekend is favoured, but low pressure to the west may bring rain and strong winds later on Sunday.
The big story: A rushed-through, cut-price Castlegate or the jewel in Sheffield’s crown?
Top line: A consultation on the future of the former Castle Market site has now begun. Last week a “concept plan” was unveiled showing how the council will spend the £15m Levelling Up grant they were awarded in 2021. But concerns remain that the site’s heritage is being overlooked — and time is running out to spend the money by the March 2024 cut-off date.
Concept plan: Anyone expecting a great deal of detail about the council’s plans will be disappointed. Drawings show an aerial elevation of what the site will look like when complete while an artist’s impression gives a sense of how the council hopes people will use the site.
The plan also provides for the River Sheaf to be de-culverted, the “grey to green” scheme to be extended to the site and a community events space.
There will also be paths, lighting and “other essential infrastructure needed to unlock the future commercial development of small parts of the site”.
Castle remains: However, much to the disappointment of some campaigners, no mention is made of the castle remains on the council’s website. In the past, three protected sections of the preserved castle remains used to be available for visitors to look at. But these don’t feature in the concept plan at all.
Conservation area: Also not mentioned is the conservation area the council had proposed for Castlegate in 2019, which was cancelled at the last minute on the morning a consultation was due to start. No reason has ever been given.
Councils have a duty to create conservation areas in areas of special architectural or historic interest which it is desirable to preserve.
However, earlier this year, Councillor Mazher Iqbal told The Tribune that the conservation area consultation might not happen until late 2024.
The spectre of inflation: Skyrocketing inflation of 10% or more means that the Levelling Up money is worth far less in real terms than it was a year ago. The council says that while they have estimated the cost of the proposed interventions in the concept plan vision for the site, they will not know if they can afford to do everything until they procure the works next year.
Have your say: Feedback on the plan can be given in person at an exhibition stand at the Moor Market, 8-11 November (9am to 5pm), or at two sessions at 18 Exchange Street on Saturday, 12 November 1-3pm or Friday, 18 November 1-3pm. A Zoom session will be held on Thursday, 17 November, 6-8pm, and Castlegate Futures: Urban Room events will take place at 18 Exchange Street on 12/13 November and 17-20 November.
Bottom line: Many Sheffielders will say whatever happens to the castle site will be better than what we’ve got now — a huge empty space. But if we’re not careful, the impact of inflation and the need to spend the money as quickly as we can could mean we get a rushed through, cut-price solution to an area that should be the jewel in Sheffield’s crown. Does the city really want the best of a bad job?
Home of the week 🏡
This two-bedroomed detached house in Ranmoor dates from the 19th century and retains lots of period features as well as modern conveniences. It is on the market for £440,000.
Tribune Tips: If you want to tell us about a story or give us some information, please email email@example.com. We are always happy to speak to people off the record in the first instance, and we will treat your information with confidence and sensitivity. Get in touch.
At the moment we are particularly interested in speaking to people who have worked at BBC Radio Sheffield for a piece about the history of the station as it prepares to absorb significant staffing cuts.
Our media picks 🎧
Young Sheffield soldier finally buried after death in battle 🪦 A Sheffield soldier who died in the First World War has been buried with full military honours in Arras, France. Private Herbert Greaves, from Walkley, died in battle in 1917 but in the confusion of war his remains were never properly buried. However, after his body was found under a footpath in 2019, the MOD War Detectives were able to piece together his story and track down his descendants.
'All of a sudden it was like the dam bursting' 🎹 A good interview in the Yorkshire Post with The Human League founder Martyn Ware about his new autobiography Electronically Yours. In the book, which he wrote during the Covid lockdowns after finding himself at a loose end, Ware talks about his working-class Sheffield upbringing, meeting bandmate Phil Oakey at King Ted’s and his shock at being unceremoniously dumped out of his own band in 1980.
Mayor on public ownership, cheaper fares and expansion 🚋 When a publicly-owned “arms-length” company takes over control of Supertram in 2024, what will it means for passengers? In this video interview on The Star’s website, reporter Harry Harrison asks South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard if the move would make fares cheaper, whether he would retain overall responsibility for the service and if the region’s bus system was next on the list.
Things to do 📆
Music 🎸 Playing at The Foundry tonight (Monday, 7 November) are The Bug Club, a Welsh three piece who are signed to Sheffield-based record label Bingo Records. “Telling tales of the everyday, shot through with humour and riffs-a-plenty”, the band are played regularly on BBC Radio 6 Music, especially by DJ and new music champion Marc Riley, who has become one of their most vocal cheerleaders. The doors open at 7.30pm and tickets are priced £12.
Talk 📣 On Tuesday, 8 November (6-7pm), the Mayor of South Yorkshire Oliver Coppard will give the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute’s annual lecture at The Diamond building on Brook Hill. In the free lecture, entitled “Leading with pride: local leadership’s indispensable role in delivering the UK’s economic and constitutional renewal”, Coppard will discuss the importance of local and regional leadership before taking questions from the audience.
Theatre 🎭 At the Crucible’s Playhouse for one night only on Thursday, 10 November is a new show by acclaimed writer, storyteller and performer James Rowland. Featuring his trademark mix of storytelling, music and comedy, Learning to Fly sees James tell the story of a remarkable friendship he made when he was a lonely, unhappy teenager with the scary old lady who lived in the spooky house on his street. Tickets are £13 and doors open at 8pm.
‘It was like heaven! It was like a palace!’
As you may be aware, The Tribune is a big fan of social housing projects, in Sheffield and elsewhere. We’ve covered them extensively over the past 18 months, and the pieces we’ve written about Park Hill, Hyde Park and Gleadless Valley are some of the most popular stories we’ve published. For each of these we spoke to John Boughton, an acclaimed historian of social housing in Britain, and the author of Municipal Dreams: The Rise and Fall of Council Housing.
In his new book, A History of Council Housing in 100 Estates, which came out last month, Boughton continues his examination of the history of social housing in the UK, looking at developments including Sheffield’s Park Hill and Gleadless Valley estates. The book, which is published by RIBA Publishing, is beautifully illustrated with over 250 photographs and sketches of the housing projects featured. It is priced £40 and is available in most bookshops and online.