15 March 2016

The first phase of the Grey to Green Corridor, an exciting project to transform Sheffield’s Riverside Business District is nearing completion with the final planting of trees and eye-catching artworks and street furniture around West Bar, Snig Hill and Bridge Street.

The overall project aims to transform 1.2 kilometres of redundant roads into attractive new linear public spaces, improving the links between the Riverside Business District and the rest of the city centre.

It includes innovative perennial meadows, an interlinked sustainable urban drainage system (SUDS), rain gardens, public art and high quality paved footways and street furniture. The scheme has also been designed to improve the environment, making it easier to walk and cycle. The completed Phase 1 comprises around 0.5 km.

Five eye catching art features have been added to provide instant new landmarks and to reveal some of the area’s colourful and unexpected history and associations. The art works resemble modern totem poles and each one is 4.2 metres high. They are made from stone and metal, and incorporate local stories together with eye-catching mirror and lighting effects.

Councillor Leigh Bramall, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development said: “Trees, shrubs and wild flowers will be planted to complement the new artwork features and provide the finishing touches to enhance this project in the Riverside area.

“The project will create an attractive setting for existing and new investment and jobs, an improvement in the city’s resilience to climate change as well as an enhanced public realm and connectivity of the area with the rest of the city centre.

“It also shows off new forms of partnership with the University of Sheffield by sharing expertise to solve problems in an innovative way.

“We are very grateful for the European Regional Development Fund and Sheffield City Region Investment Fund funding for this scheme that will contribute greatly towards the regeneration of this historic part of the city.”

Sheffield City Council in partnership with the University of Sheffield Landscape School, Amey and Robert Bray Associates have worked together to design and radically improve what has been dubbed the first phase of the Grey to Green Corridor.

The aim was to enhance the environment and reduce barriers between the Riverside Business District, Castlegate and the rest of the city centre and then on to Kelham Island and Victoria Quays.

The improvements will create a high quality setting for a number of key development sites in the area particularly at West Bar and Exchange Place.

Phase 1 of the scheme started in April 2015 and cost £3.4 million using funding from the new Sheffield City Region Investment Fund (SCRIF) – the first project to be funded from this pot – and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). This is aimed at unlocking key strategic urban gateways and supporting urban economic infrastructure.

The SUDS work in Phase 1 is the longest retro-fit urban drainage scheme of its kind in the UK. An increase in tree street cover and shade will also offset the increasing heat island effect of climate change.

Professor Nigel Dunnett, of the Department of Landscape at the University of Sheffield, who designed the spectacular meadows at London’s Olympic Park, said: “The Grey to Green project in Sheffield’s Riverside District is one of the most ambitious and visionary urban landscape projects in the country, further boosting Sheffield’s credentials as a green city.

“We are proud to bring our support and technical expertise to help make this a truly ground-breaking example to other cities in the UK, whilst also providing exciting opportunities for our students to become involved with real-life innovative and cutting-edge planning and design projects.”

Geoff Poyzer, Managing Director for the Highways and Utilities Division of North Midland Construction, stated: “We were delighted when NMC were awarded the Grey to Green Phase 1 project. This will further strengthen the relationship that had been developed over a number of years with Sheffield City Council during the construction of numerous public realm and highways schemes. Sheffield should be commended for their vision to bring an innovative and exciting green environment into the city centre.”

Ends

Notes for editors:

The ‘Grey to Green Phase 1 – Sheffield Riverside Business District’ project is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information visit:
www.gov.uk/browse/business/funding-debt/european-regional-development-funding

The Sheffield City Region Investment Fund (SCRIF) is also part funding the ‘Grey to Green Phase 1 – Sheffield Riverside Business District’. SCRIF is a framework of funding streams to deliver essential strategic infrastructure to increase economic growth and jobs in Sheffield City Region. For more information visit www.sheffieldcityregion.org.uk/sheffield-city-region-investment-fund

Grey to Green:
The ‘Grey to Green’ scheme has grown out of proposals in the City Centre Masterplan update of 2013 and is a key step towards expanding the boundary of the City Centre back to its historic origins around the River Don and Castlegate.

When the Inner Relief Road was completed in 2007, it freed up large areas of tarmac carriageway previously clogged with traffic. It also provided new opportunities for quality employment and investment, particularly in professional and knowledge intensive business services. Several large law firms, architects studios, government offices and courts are already located in the area along the river and canal.

The project will also complement Sheffield’s bid for the location of the High Speed 2 station close to the city centre at the nearby former Victoria Station. The scheme has received strong support from businesses and the public.

Phase 1 of the project has focussed on a half kilometre stretch of road between West Bar and Lady’s Bridge including the Magistrate, Crown and Family Courts and the former Exchange Brewery, which houses a number of charities and social enterprise.

North Midland Highways and Utilities was the contractor selected to build the scheme. Phase 1 is hoped to be followed swiftly by Phase 2- Castlegate, subject to securing funding.

The scheme still allows access traffic, buses and cyclists, and public art, seating areas, trees, shrubs and wild flowers have also been introduced into the streetscene.

The planted areas will also provide an innovative ‘sustainable urban drainage system’ (SUDs). This has been designed by the Council and leading national experts to help flood relief in this part of the city by soaking up run off to the river within the ‘flood zone’ and helping to reduce flood risk from surface water.