Would you live in Sheffield's Room 101?

Plus, a comedy show about scary TV from the 1970s

Good afternoon readers — and welcome to our Monday briefing.

Today we look at how a Sheffield student property which isn’t big enough to swing a cat in came to be rented on the private market. We also name another potential candidate to be South Yorkshire Mayor.

We hope you enjoyed our weekend read untangling the myth and reality of the Manor estate. You can find that piece here.

Last week we sent Tribune members a great story about the rise of independent coffee culture in the city. We also went to visit a Sheffield company that is trying to decarbonise the energy system, and tried to find out why it’s now valued at more than £2 billion by investors.

  • This week we’ll publish two more members-only stories: one about how the government’s integrated rail plan will affect Sheffield and another about the relentless rise of the party drug ketamine among the city’s students.

  • To get both of those, join up as a member now using the button below. It costs less than £1.40 a week if you pay for a year.

This week’s weather

Our weather forecast comes from dedicated Sheffield weather service Steel City Skies, who say: “A rather quiet week is favoured with high pressure decaying most weather fronts that come our way. A lot of cloud is expected with brighter spells fleeting in nature. Frosts are not expected to be an issue with temperatures around the average for the time of year.”

Monday ☁️ after early brightness, extensive cloud moves in from the west with the odd spell of drizzle later on. Perhaps turning murky overnight as winds fall light. Feeling cool with highs of 11°C.

Tuesday ☁️ rinse and repeat as cloud persists, along with mist and fog patches in prone spots. The risk of light rain or drizzle from weak weather fronts remains, though precipitation will be negligible. Becoming a little breezier. Highs of 12°C.

Wednesday 🌥️ with Tuesday’s cold front clear, it should be a brighter and fresher day with breezy winds and occasional bright spells coming through. Most parts should enjoy a dry day with highs of 11°C.

Thursday ☁️ cloud increases for a time on Thursday as a warm front tracks eastwards, potentially bringing some light rain. Westerly winds will be stronger than of late, though it will feel milder with highs of 13°C.

Friday 🌥️ high pressure stays in control over southern parts and that should be enough to see us dry to end the working week. Cloud amounts will be on the high side at times but we should see some bright spells coming through. Less breezy than Thursday. Highs of 13°C.

Outlook: A fairly settled weekend is expected with a cooling trend as winds switch round to the north-west. Any precipitation will likely come from scattered showers. Frosts could return as skies clear overnight.

The big story: Inside Sheffield’s Room 101

Top line: A Sheffield flat has gone on sale at auction today that measures just 15m2. The apartment, which is in Pearl Works on Eyre Lane (Room 101 would you believe) is on the market at just £40,000, but its tiny dimensions have once again raised the issue of cramped housing in the city.

How small? The flat’s overall dimensions are 4.7m x 3.3m, although a chunk of this is taken up by a bathroom measuring 2.2m x 1.4m.

  • Also crammed into the tiny space are a bed, a desk and chair and a cooking area/corridor.

  • For comparison, a standard UK car parking space is only slightly smaller at 11.52m2.

Is this legal? University of Sheffield geographer Carl Lee says the flat was originally built as student accommodation, but is now being sold on the open market. The advert says it has recently been let at £550 per calendar month, giving an “attractive” yield of 16%. Lee told us:

The bottom line is that if accommodation is specifically for student use then national space standards don't apply. It falls into the same category as a hotel. Developers know this.

Lee says that other tiny student flats in the city could soon find themselves being sold like this. Vita Student Sheffield on Wellington Street near Charter Row (formerly Telephone House) has around 300 different owners and a managed resale market.

New developments: A few weeks ago, Sheffield city councillors complained that studio flats at a new development on Bowling Green Street in Kelham Island called Hive Central were too small at 31m2. Planning officer Lucy Bond informed the members that while the apartments were slightly smaller than the non-binding South Yorkshire design guide stipulated, many flats much smaller than that had been approved in the past. 

Smaller and smaller: Last year, local democracy reporter Lucy Ashton wrote about concerns that too many tiny flats were being built in the city centre.

  • These included a development on Garden Street in which some studios were just 19.5m2.

  • And the forthcoming Rockingham Street tower will have more than 1,000 studios of just 18m2.

But Andrew Southern, chairman of Southern Grove, the developers of the Rockingham Street tower, said the flats weren’t meant for people to live in them long term. He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service:

These are serviced apartments for short-term let, and are intended to be used by parents and friends of students, and other visitors to the city, as a high-quality and affordable alternative to a hotel stay.

Why is this a problem? Some may say if the market makes such small apartments economical, why shouldn’t they be built? But if the goal is creating stable communities then tiny flats are unlikely to be the answer. The Kelham Island and Neepsend Neighbourhood Forum, which recently campaigned against Hive Central, told The Tribune.

We feel the over-supply of small flats hinders our community’s ability to stay in our neighbourhood if their family grows or their needs change. Plus on their own terms these types of really small flats bring few if any benefits to the occupants and little to the local community bar increased pressure on very limited local resources — they are the slums of the future.

Sheffield’s Room 101 will be sold online through South Yorkshire Auction House from 1pm today. The auction lasts 24 hours.

‘We will remember them’

More than 1,000 people attended Remembrance Day commemorations at Barker’s Pool on Sunday, a year after the annual service was cancelled due to Covid. As ever, the event was beautifully captured by the Steel City Snapper.

Covid-19 update

Cases: The Covid case rate in Sheffield — the number of positive cases per 100,000 population over seven days — currently stands at 291.4, 465 cases or 21.3% down on last week. The England average currently stands at 342.3, 14.6% down on last week.

Hospitals: The number of patients being treated for Covid-19 in hospitals in Sheffield is 125, a fall of 19 from last week. Nine of these patients require ventilation, the same number as last week. Nine deaths linked to the virus have taken place over the last seven days.

Vaccines: 784,466 vaccine doses have now been given out in Sheffield, including 409,801 first doses and 374,420 second doses. The JCVI has today recommended that all over 40s should get a booster vaccine while all 16 and 17-year-olds should now receive a second.

South Yorkshire Mayor update

Applications to be Labour’s candidate for South Yorkshire Mayor close on Wednesday and The Tribune understands that former city councillor Lewis Dagnall is likely to put himself forward as a “left” candidate for the role. Dagnall was a councillor for Gleadless between 2015-2021 and served as cabinet member for environment and streetscene until he resigned over former leader Julie Dore’s handling of the governance referendum won by It’s Our City! He is also married to Sheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake. In our piece on the likely runners and riders, a party insider told us a left candidate shouldn’t be written off.

Home of the week

This attractive two-bedroom stone cottage in Brincliffe Hill offers a generous enclosed front garden and magnificent views across the valley. It’s on the market for £270,000.

Our favourite reads

  1. A lovely piece in the Yorkshire Post about former BBC journalist and Sheffield native Dino Sofos who has just left the corporation to set up his own podcasting company. Sofos grew up and went to university in the city before joining BBC Radio Sheffield when he graduated. For the last few years he’s been producing the BBC’s hugely popular Newscast programmes but has now set up his own company, Persephonica.

  2. The latest in Star business editor David Walsh’s restorations series is an interesting look at historic Bank Street and Queen Street in the city centre. Up until the 1990s the area was the city’s commercial heart but many of the buildings have now been converted into residential accommodation. Some are still used by businesses, however, including number 52, which is now an office building called Stamp House.

  3. It looks like the government’s long-awaited integrated rail plan will finally be published this week, and the Sunday papers had lots of pre-briefing in them as to what it might include. The main points for Sheffield looks like the eastern leg of HS2 will finally be scrapped but the old Don Valley Line to Stocksbridge will be reopened. The fact that the Mail on Sunday couldn't even spell Stock(s)bridge correctly doesn't bode well.

Sheffield Victoria to return?

If the Don Valley Line does reopen, one option that has been mooted is the return of Sheffield Victoria station. Opened in 1851, Victoria used to be the city’s main station and was situated where the Crowne Plaza Royal Victoria Hotel in Castlegate is now. It was closed to passenger services on January 5, 1970 and the station was finally demolished in 1989.

Things to do

Art: Currently on at Sheffield Hallam University’s Head Post Office Building on Flat Street is Zeitgeist, an exhibition showcasing the work of recent graduates. The exhibition is a chance for many of the students who couldn’t show their work in public during the pandemic to see it in a physical gallery setting for the first time. The show, which features 12 artists, is on now and runs until November 26. The gallery is open Monday-Saturday, 9am–5pm.

Learn: The Sheffield Forum is a city institution, and for the first time they are bringing their much-loved and used platform to a live audience. The first Sheffield Forum: Live includes award-winning songwriter Eliot Kennedy, Sheffield Uni scientist Tim Craggs, Katherine Payne from Goldsmiths North and Chris Lynam from the Archer Project. The event takes place on Wednesday, November 17 at the Mowbray in Neepsend. Tickets are £10.

Comedy: Over two volumes of their hugely popular book Scarred for Life, writers Stephen Brotherstone and Dave Lawrence have gleefully reminded us all about the terrifying things those of us who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s were exposed to as children. Along with Bob Fischer of the Fortean Times, the pair visit the University of Sheffield’s Drama Studio to talk about the books on Friday, November 19. Now Then have a nice preview of it here.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

If you’ve been in town recently you’ll know that the festive season is well and truly here, with Fargate and the Peace Gardens transformed with Christmas markets and two bars. After our quiet Christmas in Sheffield 12 months ago, it’ll be great to see it bustling again this year. The markets are open from today.