£5.6m plan for Sheffield Knowledge Gateway scheme could restore Fitzalan Square to its former glory
Businesses in Fitzalan Square, and the surrounding areas, are to be quizzed on how they can be further improved as plans move forward to make it an integral part of Sheffield city life once more.
Following the long-awaited renovation of the former head post office as Sheffield Hallam University’s Sheffield Institute of Arts (SIA), Sheffield City Council is planning to upgrade the route from the Edwardian-era square along Pond Street to Paternoster Row and Brown Street, the focus of the Cultural Industries Quarter as well as improving connections to the city centre and station.
The project aims to help unlock major development opportunities at Sheaf Square, Site Gallery, the site of the former Nelson Mandela building, the former sorting office on Flat Street and the Digital Campus.
These developments will create the setting for more than 4,000 new jobs over the next five years. The project will also aim to address road safety issues, increase pedestrian areas and reduce the number of buses using the area, and encourage safer walking and cycling and create space for events and seating.
There will be public and trader consultations over the next few weeks. Exhibitions featuring the proposals will be held at Sheffield Hallam’s Sheffield Institute of Arts café from today, Monday 13 February, to Saturday 18 February 2017 (9am – 6pm, weekdays; 9am to 4pm) and then at the Site Gallery cafe, Paternoster Row, from Tuesday 21 to Saturday 25 February 2017, (10am – 6pm weekdays; Saturday, 10am – 1pm.)
The full cost of the scheme could be up to £5.6m and could be part-funded by a bid to the Sheffield City Region Investment Fund, subject to a final business case, with private sector contributions and some investment from the council.
Initial plans being put forward include re-establishing the historic direct link from Norfolk Street to Fitzalan Square, by removing the small shops at the top of Esperanto Place and replacing them with a landscaped accessible ramp, and Pond Street.
Fitzalan Square, Sheffield’s main public space in Edwardian times, has become a less-celebrated location in recent years, cut off from the rest of the city centre and dominated by traffic.
Paternoster Row is the main street of the Cultural Industries Quarter, home to the Showroom, Workstation, Site Gallery, Yorkshire Artspace and Sheffield Hallam’s Student Union building, but it is also dominated by fast-moving buses and taxis with little pedestrian space. Esperanto Place, once part of Norfolk Street has become an uninviting back street.
The Sheaf Square site is one of the most important development sites in the City Centre, but development has been held back by traffic congestion problems around the station and the poor state of Porter Brook which runs along one side of it.
Meanwhile, Pond Street is a poor pedestrian environment dominated by bus stops and service entrances, but has now become a key access through Sheffield Hallam University’s campus.
The Knowledge Gateway project will address each of these areas as part of a comprehensive ‘corridor’ approach. Subject to consultations, work should start later this year with a one-year build programme.
Councillor Leigh Bramall, deputy leader of Sheffield City Council and cabinet lead for business and economy, said: “We have already completed improvements at the University of Sheffield and this project will help Sheffield Hallam University and the Cultural Industries Quarter in a similar way.
“This is an exciting opportunity to fully exploit opportunities provided by two of our key assets – the two Universities and this area’s proximity to the station. This project should help to make this area become a destination in its own right.’’
“These developments will make Fitzalan Square an area where people again feel safe and secure, which should lead to a more balanced mixture of shops becoming established in the area.”
Mark Swales, director of facilities and estates at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “This gives a tremendous boost to our campus and has the potential to improve connectivity and safety between our city centre campus. It also has excellent potential for the city centre and continues the regeneration of the historic Fitzalan Square.”
Sally Wade, director of Sheffield Institute of Arts, said: “Our aim with our new home wasn’t just to provide our students and staff with a place to work, but to also give something back to the city – restoring a beautiful building to its former glory and hopefully giving Fitzalan Square a new lease of life.”
Sir Nigel Knowles, Chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership of Sheffield City Region, said: “The Sheffield City Region Investment Fund (SCRIF) is our major capital programme which enables local leaders to work together to leverage private and public sector investment more effectively.
“Local leaders have a very robust approach to prioritising and selecting the highest standard of programmes for funding. This ensures that every pound invested maximises economic growth, boosts businesses and creates more and better jobs. This is helping us to build a truly competitive centre of business excellence.”