Sheffield’s high-rise ambitions hit the buffers
Plus, what worried the people of Banner Cross in 1959?
Good afternoon readers — and welcome to our Monday briefing.
You can tell from the city’s skyline that Sheffield is changing. Every week a new crane seems to be set up for some new development project. One of the main reasons is our desperate need for new homes. But as we’ve reported before, building new homes in Sheffield city centre isn’t easy — and it now looks as though that problem has claimed yet another high profile casualty.
As well as that we also have an amazing photograph from last week’s wildfires, an astonishing story about two identical twins who recently died within hours of each other, and details of a new football art exhibition at the Millennium Gallery.
Catch up and coming up
Thanks to everyone who read, liked, shared and commented on our horticultural weekend read about the beautiful and innovative Manor Fields Park. You can still read that story here.
Last week we sent out two great newsletters to our 739 paying members. The first was a lovely piece about a new documentary which tells the story of how a Sheffield car mechanic launched the careers of a generation of Sheffield musicians. And the second was an interesting interview with 22-year-old Lewis Chinchen, Sheffield’s solitary Conservative councillor.
This week we’ll send two more including a piece about how the teenage Tibor Killi (of the famous Killi’s cleaning supplies on Glossop Road) escaped Hungary after the Soviet invasion of 1956 and made his way to Sheffield. As well as that we’ll also have a look at how the current pedestrianisation schemes in the city centre are affecting the lives of disabled Sheffielders.
Editor’s appeal: We are still operating The Tribune on a shoestring budget and with a tiny team. To get both of this week’s newsletters and help us grow into the kind of newsroom that can employ a wider range of writers and produce high-quality journalism in Sheffield for years to come, please consider subscribing using the button below. For just £1.34 a week (if you pay upfront for the year), you can help fund a new way of doing journalism in Sheffield.
The big picture: Up in smoke
This amazing photograph shows firefighters struggling to contain a wildfire that was threatening homes in Shiregreen on Wednesday. Dozens of fires took place all over Sheffield last week as temperatures reached a record 39.4C.
This week’s weather
Our weather forecast comes from dedicated Sheffield weather service Steel City Skies, who say low pressure brings a changeable start but high pressure builds behind to bring calmer, fresher and more settled weather our way.
Monday 🌦 Unsettled but rather warm and breezy with plenty of cloud, fleeting brightness and the likelihood of showers. Highs of 22C.
Tuesday ⛅ The shower risk reduces as high pressure builds in. Cooler and fresher with bright spells, lighter winds and variable cloud. Highs of 20C.
Wednesday 🌥 Similarly settled with bright or sunny spells and patches of cloud. Winds remaining light and temperatures around the average of 21C.
Thursday 🌥 A little warmer with variable cloud and further spells of bright or sunny weather. A low late shower risk, with highs of 22C.
Friday 🌦 The shower risk perhaps increases as our temperatures climb. Otherwise it is similarly bright with highs of 23C.
Outlook: The threat of unsettled weather from the northwest, but decent drier spells look likely too. Staying warm with highs in the low to mid twenties.
The big story: Sheffield’s high-rise ambitions hit the buffers
Top line: A huge development planned for Sheffield city centre appears to have been shelved after the company which owns the site put the land up for sale.
Background: Last August, Sheffield City Council gave developer The Godwin Group planning permission to build The Meridian — three adjoining towers of 23, 17 and 10 floors, one of which would have a “sky-garden”.
The complex was to be built on land formerly owned by British Rail between Farm Road and Queens Road, next to the Grosvenor Casino.
It was to have 336 one, two and three-bedroom open-plan apartments, 94 of which were to have private balconies, plus shops and co-working spaces.
Selling up: A hoarding advertising the land as for sale had recently been erected on the site by the owner, the Barnsley-based Fairbank Investments. A spokesman for The Godwin Group said they were “working with the landowner to progress this project” but couldn’t give The Tribune “any indication of precise timelines”.
Build to rent: The Meridian was a so-called “Build to Rent” scheme, housing developments which are funded by institutional investors who then rent out the apartments via specialist operators. Critics say the practice does nothing to solve the housing crisis and is merely a way of making investors rich at the expense of so-called “Generation Rent”.
Housing targets: The council’s emerging Local Plan says 20,000 homes will have to be built in five “city centre neighbourhoods”. The Meridian was to be built in neighbourhood six, where the council say 571 homes must be built by 2038. If the project’s 336 homes were to be lost permanently, it would be a major blow to the authority’s plans.
Other developments: Doubts have recently been expressed about other city centre developments, raising questions over whether Sheffield will be able to meet its ambitious housing targets.
Vista on Pond Street was meant to be finished this September but no work is believed to have taken place on the site for weeks. The agent said it’s now forecast to complete next summer.
The 40-storey Kings Tower in Castlegate would be Yorkshire’s biggest building. However, it remains unclear where the money (thought to be in the region of £50-£70m) is coming from.
The Sheaf Valley Masterplan: In 2020, Sheffield City Council unveiled a masterplan for the Sheaf Valley as it comes through the city centre. Parts of this plan were controversially shelved last year — if The Meridian were to go the same way it really would be back to square one. A future for the currently vacant former Sheaf House site next to the station (which has previously been earmarked for HS2, Channel 4 and a mysterious Scarborough Group project nicknamed the “McCabe Pyramid”) now seems further away than ever.
Bottom line: As we’ve reported before, building apartment blocks is harder in Sheffield compared to our neighbours Manchester and Leeds as most investors don’t think the city’s economy can support the kind of rental yield they want. Add to this developers’ legitimate fears over how sky-high inflation could affect the cost of borrowing and construction and it’s not surprising that some major building projects in Sheffield are being delayed or shelved altogether.
Home of the week 🏡
This stunning two-bedroomed Broomhill lodge house has been stylishly modernised but retains loads of its original period features as well. It is on the market for £365,000.
Our favourite reads 📚
Identical Sheffield twins die hours apart 👯♂️ An astonishing story in The Star last week about a set of Sheffield twins who died within hours of each other earlier this month. Born in Attercliffe in July 1951, Alan and Geoff Bates looked so similar to one another as children that they needed their names sewed into their school uniforms so teachers could tell them apart. The twin brothers fell ill on June 11 and passed away two days later — just a month shy of their 71st birthday.
‘It destroyed 20 years of memories’ 🔥 The Guardian reports from Kiveton Park in Rotherham where a wildfire destroyed several family homes on the hottest day of the year. The Hughes family have lost almost all their possessions and been left homeless after an enormous blaze ripped through the home they’ve lived in for 15 years. They added it could take two years before their house is rebuilt and that finding somewhere to rent in such a small village is proving “impossible”.
What if Balti King became the Balti Co-op? 🍛 An interesting piece in Now Then by Sheffield councillor Minesh Parekh asks whether two city business could become co-ops after their owners retired. 32-year-old Balti King in Broomhill and 25-year-old Casanova in Crookes were both put up for sale in the last month but rather than accepting their loss, Parekh suggests they could be turned into co-ops, protecting two popular restaurants and the people they employ.
‘Sheffield’s biggest party’ 🎸
The clean-up operation will now have begun in earnest after Tramlines 2022 finished last night with a performance by ska legends Madness. At Hillsborough Park, 50,000 people watched Sheffield bands Self Esteem, The Everly Pregnant Brothers and Reverend and the Makers, while in the city centre thousands more attended Tramlines Fringe events at the Peace Gardens, Devonshire Green and at dozens of smaller venues all over Sheffield. If you want to get an “early bird” ticket for Tramlines 2023, they go on sale at 6pm on Monday, July 25.
Things to do 📆
Art ⚽️ To coincide with the Women’s Euros, the Football Art Prize exhibition is on at the Millennium Gallery from now until October. The show brings together the work of 50 artists from across the world which span the full range of emotions inspired by what is arguably the world’s most popular sport. In the tournament itself, England take on Sweden in Sheffield in the semi-final this Tuesday with the atmosphere in the city centre certain to be incredible.
Storytelling 📚 Sheffield Libraries is one of 15 locations across the UK which this week is taking part in Story Trails, the UK’s largest augmented and virtual reality storytelling event. Inside the library explore virtual maps, 3D models and audio recordings while outside use a free app to take immersive tours around the places where history happened. Story Trails takes place on Wednesday, July 27 and Thursday, July 28. For a good preview, see this on Now Then.
Talk 📸 As part of the Creative Connections Sheffield exhibition which is currently on at the Millennium Gallery, photographer Chris Saunders will this Thursday, July 28 host an evening talk with Magid Magid about how they broke with convention for the famous shot of the former Lord Mayor which went viral in 2018. Find out more about how the iconic photograph came about, and hear Chris and Magid discuss what image and identity mean to them.
‘Pleasingly chaotic’ 📺
The BBC has launched a “pleasingly chaotic" online archive of 30,000 videos which can be searched by local area, tweets The Guardian media editor Jim Waterson. On the archive there are some great clips from Sheffield, including one from 1959 in which a BBC reporter is dispatched to Sheffield to ask what the city’s “hard-headed people” worry about.
Dogs on buses, society’s fall from God’s grace and going on holiday to Wales are all identified as worries for people interviewed by the well-spoken presenter at Banner Cross shops. But more modern concerns about the cost of living are also present. “Well, it’s just the butter situation,” says one woman. “Five shillings a pound. Why should it be?”