It has been the heart of Victorian Sheffield’s nightlife, the city’s former inner ring road and now the home to the longest sustainable drainage scheme in the country.

Now the team behind Grey to Green in Sheffield’s Riverside Business District area has issued a message to current and prospective tenants – we’re open for business.

Sheffield City Council will be showcasing the £3. 5m project next Thursday, 14 July, with a street party from 12 noon to 3pm.

The first phase of the Grey to Green corridor has transformed Sheffield’s Riverside Business District, developing the former inner ring road into an eye-catching display of public art, benches, a new urban drainage system, colourful flower beds and trees.

Councillor Leigh Bramall said: “The support of the residents and businesses in West Bar has been crucial to this project and we’d like to thank them for their patience during this time. We’d like to welcome them, and prospective businesses who  want to see what this great city centre location has to offer their clients and employees.

“The Grey to Green project is creating an attractive setting for new investment and jobs in the city, improving our resilience to climate change and flooding, and providing better links with the rest of the city centre.”

Innovative urban meadows
Innovative urban meadows

This first phase of Grey to Green  includes innovative meadows, an interlinked sustainable urban drainage system (SuDS), rain gardens, public art and high-quality paved footways and street furniture. The finished project will eventually transform 1.2 kilometres of redundant roads. The planted SuDS areas has been designed by the Council and leading national experts to help flood relief by soaking up run off to the river within the ‘flood zone’ and helping to reduce flood risk from surface water.

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 – telling stories of when West Bar was the city’s party street.

The artworks 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.

People coming to the event can also have a first glimpse at Love Square, a new pocket park which links West Bar with Snig Hill and Bridge Street in association with the University of Sheffield and Urbo Regeneration, the proposed developers of nearby West Bar Square).

There have already been a number of plaudits to the new scheme.

Andy Dainty, Director of Urbo Regeneration, said “We have invested heavily in the rapidly- improving area around West Bar and the Grey to Green scheme has made a huge difference to confidence in the area.

“We expect investment to continue now with the Love Square part of our site under construction and large scale office and residential developments hopefully to follow.”

Peter Mahy, managing partner of Howells solicitors which is based in West Bar, said “The Grey to Green scheme has transformed the area. It has created a very pleasant environment for staff and clients and is looking better every day.“

And Mike Trees from South Yorkshire Police added: “From the onset of the work I was a little sceptical as to how a grey urban street scene could be transformed in to a green oasis while still fulfilling its need to be a through access road. The grey to green scheme achieved exactly what the schemes name suggested. The area is now a joy to drive through, walk through or just spend a few minutes to ponder.”

Phase 1 of the scheme started in April 2015 and cost £3.5 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.