70 years on from last wave of council housing in Parson Cross, the area is being transformed again

In 1947, just after the Second World War had ended, hundreds of families moved into the newly-built housing in Parson Cross, north Sheffield. Even now, people from that city-wide relocation programme of the 1940s talk of the area’s wonderful sense of community, its improved living conditions and wide open spaces.

70 years on, Parson Cross is once again at the very forefront of the city’s housing plans – thanks to a radical approach that created the Sheffield Housing Company.

Not only are the houses being built by the Sheffield Housing Company once again transforming lives and communities, as they did in the 1940s, but this time the economy and employment of Sheffield and its industry are benefitting as well.

The work being commissioned for new housing estates such as Cutler’s View and Brearley Forge is benefitting local businesses’ to the tune of £8.25m – that’s how much money has been spent on construction contracts across the Sheffield City Region.

And more than 170 training initiatives have been created by the company, which first formed in 2011 and is one of the few examples – although more are being inspired to follow – of a council linking up with house builders to kick-start the housing market.

For Councillor Ben Curran, cabinet member for planning and development at Sheffield City Council, it’s only fitting that the Sheffield Housing Company should be enjoying such success in Parson Cross.

He said: “Sheffield Housing Company, supported by the council, is tapping into something that made the area so special to those who moved there in the 1930s and 1940s, putting community back at the very front and centre of our building programme and bringing some good times back there.

1940s council housing in Parson Cross
1940s council housing in Parson Cross

“Our pioneering work like the Brearley Forge development in Parson Cross and across the city in the Manor are bringing these parts of the city back to life and making really positive improvements to those communities. This is something that the private sector has failed to do. So we have stepped in to ensure there are new homes are built at prices people can afford.”

Parson Cross now has a new superstore, a new entrance to its expansive local park and a cutting-edge drainage system which is good for the environment and the area’s ecology.

It’s hosted its first summer festival back in August and more look set to come. It’s also hosted cycle rides organised by British Cycling to get more youngsters on two wheels – for free.

New residents at Parson Cross – where 82 per cent of new residents are aged from 25 to 35 years old – say they are impressed by the designs and spaciousness, and enjoy their close proximity to the city.

Ricky Clifford, 31, has just got the keys for a new property at Brearley Forge on Parson Cross.

He said: “We’ve moved into one of the new houses on Brearley Forge, there’s still little bits of maintenance and other plots being finished but that’s life.

“It’s got little pockets of bad stuff but it’s not as bad as people make out. I’ve chosen to stay living in Parson Cross and it’s where we’ve bought our first house so that tells you what it’s like – and my kids are going to the local school.”

Sheffield Housing Company in figures
Sheffield Housing Company in figures

Councillor Jayne Dunn, Councillor for Southey Ward, said: “I’m obviously delighted that Parson Cross is seeing the benefits of this innovative housing partnership. But those benefits are stretching beyond the immediate community in parson Cross into the whole city through boosts to the local jobs market.”

Meanwhile, across the city at The Manor, developers on one of the SHC’s new projects are working with the local college on a unique training scheme that sees young people gain the on-the-job skills to succeed in the construction industry.

In 2015, England’s local authorities built fewer than 3,000 new homes, just a tiny fraction of the estimated 250,000 new homes needed every year to meet demand.

Of 325 completed homes, 237 have been sold so far. The semi-detached houses – all with gardens – are selling from £99,995 for a two-bed, £152,00 for a three-bed and just over £200,000 for a four-bed, with 88 of them for affordable rent or shared ownership. There are plans for a further 24 apartments.

Affordable rent is based on 80 per cent of market value – for example, a three-bedroom semi-detached house with drive and large back garden is around £115 per week. There are no letting fees, and tenants’ rights are the same as for traditional council tenants. Allocation is based on housing needs.

As revealed last month, Sheffield City Council will be loaning Sheffield Housing Company  £3million to kick-start the next phase of the project which will build around 850 new homes and deliver over £1bn of private sector investment into housing in Fir Vale, Manor, Norfolk Park and Parson Cross, in addition to the 450 they have already built.