Wednesday 25 March 2015

The first phase of an exciting and inventive project to help regenerate the Riverside Business District and Castlegate area is about to get underway.

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 ‘Grey to Green’ corridor.

This will enhance the environment and reduce the barriers between the Riverside Business District and Castlegate with the rest of the city centre and on to Kelham Island and Victoria Quays.

The project will transform 1.3 kilometres of redundant road space, creating an attractive new linear public space including perennial meadows, a sustainable urban drainage system and rain gardens. Walking and cycling routes will create a high quality setting for a number of key development sites in the area, particularly at West Bar and Exchange Place.

When the Inner Relief Road was completed in 2007, it freed up large areas of tarmac carriageway along the old inner ring road route around West Bar and provided new opportunities for high volume 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 ‘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. The scheme forms a key part of regeneration plans in the area and has already received strong support from businesses and the public.

Councillor Leigh Bramall, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development said: “This project sees a start to our plans to regenerate the West Bar and Castlegate area. It’s crucial that we improve the area to make it more attractive to both existing and new businesses, guests at the city’s hotels in the area and the wider public.

“The resulting design uses innovative landscape to create an attractive setting for existing and new investment and jobs, better walking and cycling and improves the city’s resilience to climate change. It also shows off new forms of partnership with the University of Sheffield, sharing expertise to solve problems in an innovative way.”

Phase 1 of the project will focus 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.

This phase starts in April and is due for completion in December 2015. It will cost £3.5 million using funding from the new Sheffield City Region Investment Fund (SCRIF) – the first project it has funded – and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

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

The scheme will still allow access traffic and buses as well as cyclists, but public art, seating areas, trees, shrubs and wild flowers will be introduced into the streetscene.

The planted areas will provide innovative ‘sustainable urban drainage system’ (SUDs) designed between 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. It will be the longest retro-fit urban drainage scheme of its kind in the UK once completed.

Professor Nigel Dunnett, of the Department of Landscape, 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.”

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Head of Engagement at the University of Sheffield added: “In Castlegate we are seeing the first fruits of a completely new approach to partnership with the city, bringing the research resources of the University to bear in very practical ways to animate, discover and transform Sheffield’s oldest quarter whilst learning and having fun. Having this investment in this part of the city will helpfully inspire others to bring economic vibrancy back to this area.”

Geoff Poyzer, Managing Director for the Highways and Utilities Division of North Midland Construction added: “I am delighted that NMC had been awarded the Grey to Green 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 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