Written by Julie Dore and John Mothersole
We’ve all been making our Christmas lists and coming up with our reviews of the year. What went well, what records we’ve been listening to, what we can learn from and what we don’t want to repeat!
These are of course all open to personal interpretation and conjecture, but in the case of Sheffield’s 12 months there are so many positive things to reflect on, so please allow us to spend a little bit of time looking back before we look confidently forward to 2019.
Back in the Spring, our cabinet member for business and investment stood in the dusty shell of the former Co-op store in Castle House, surrounded by remnants of its previous life as one of Sheffield’s major institutions.
Kollider Projects had just been awarded £2m to develop the epic building, complete with spiral staircase, into a digital and tech hub. Less than six months later, it was the opening night of the National Videogame Museum and what a transformation had taken place; the former post office hall converted into one of the best and most innovative museums and public spaces in the country.
Underneath, work was continuing apace on a new food court developed with Tamper and Peddler Market, which will further cement the building’s potential as a social and transactional space where new energies, businesses and collaborations can be created. The old had become the new in a matter of a few short months.
This theme continues wherever you look, but importantly, all of these successes could only have happened in Sheffield and are respectful of our history and heritage.
Take ‘Public’, doing amazing things literally under our feet as we type this, in the former gentlemen’s conveniences under the Town Hall.
Only in Sheffield could we have a team as audacious as James O’ Hara’s, transforming the toilets and then turning it into the best establishment in town. It has justly won a tumbler of awards throughout the year, including nationwide Bar Of The Year.
Further afield, Kelham Island is now officially an Academy of Urbanism Great Neighbourhood, richly deserved as anyone who has witnessed the transformation of the old cutlery works into a food hall will testify.
We both go to Kelham regularly and every time we do, something has changed from the time before. We predict even bigger and better things for this great neighbourhood in 2019.
In the city centre, our Heart Of The City II scheme moves ever-closer to completion. HSBC will get the keys to Grosvenor House early next year and we have planning applications in for two of the other blocks.
People are visibly excited by the progress and the way we are leading the way once again with a scheme that combines retail, leisure, living space and history and heritage too. It’s also important to mention that the council is only committing to this on a block by block basis, so we will deliver the best and most contemporary scheme for the people of Sheffield.
Right in the heart of this space we have a remarkably preserved Little Mesters in Leah’s Yard which, if done right, offers an amazing piece of heritage in the heart of the city. It’s early days but it shows again how heritage doesn’t just have to be history but can be part of our future plans too.
The giant boulders close to the entrance of Grosvenor House tell a remarkable story in their own right. All hewn from stone at a local quarry, they represent the biggest investment in the city’s public realm since the Heart of the City’s Peace Gardens were opened 20 years ago. As we celebrated this remarkable space, we look ahead to how Heart Of The City 2 will provide the public spaces of the future, as well as incorporating sustainable urban drainage that protects our city from flooding. No other city centre in the UK will look the way Sheffield does, or do what it does.
Our Christmas celebrations have looked spectacular this year too, bringing more than 243,000 people into the city this week alone for the annual Christmas market. We need to do more with Fargate, and the Central Library, but announcements on both will take place in the new year.
It’s also been a fantastic year for our inward investment team, with both McLaren and Boeing setting up factories in the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District.
As well as the huge benefits this will bring to our economy and reputation as a world-leading city, both global businesses are choosing to place their future here, setting up training programmes which provides the best opportunities for young people in our city and helps us retain them after graduation.
We have overcome the disappointment of missing out on Channel 4, but pulling that bid together showed we have strength to take Sheffield confidently forward, through manufacturing, making and digital expertise.
Culturally, we have seen the Arctic Monkeys return to Sheffield for the first time in many years, in the same year as Tramlines celebrated its tenth anniversary with a move to Hillsborough Park.
What a festival it was – three days of fantastic weather and a line-up that was a tribute to director Sarah Nulty. We will make sure her legacy is never forgotten and make sure Sheffield remains the UK’s festival city.
In sport we created a fantastic fanzone for England’s semi-final against Croatia and cheered our three Sheffield Lions on with thousands of others. Building on that we’ve secured host city status in England’s winning bid to bring the UEFA Women’s European Championships to Bramall Lane in 2021.
Over at Park Hill, time stood still as Doctor Who chose to base several episodes here. It was a great series, and one that was absolutely Sheffield. The characters all displayed traits that could only be Sheffield – kindness, morality, adventure, a knowing wit. All with that fantastic brutalist architectural backdrop.
Two new schools in both the east and west of the city – Astrea and Mercia – have arrived which show how important our young people are to the way our city develops. It’s been a year where we have laid the foundations for a greener and more sustainable city – our outline proposals for better transport, even better parks and better air to breathe show bold and necessary action. This commitment is further demonstrated by our successful changes to waste management to meet our city’s recycling targets. Thank you to everyone who has adapted to this new way of recycling our rubbish and making our planet greener.
So that brings us to 2019. There’s plenty of uncertainty in the air, but that’s not the subject of this column. What we can say with certainty is that our Olympic Legacy Park will continue to build on its Landscape Journal project of the year award, that Castlegate will reveal more of its archaeological secrets, that Heart Of The City II will continue to move forward at pace and that we will know more about how HS2 in the city will look.
We will continue to press for our South Yorkshire devolution deal to be implemented and consult on our future plans for transport and the city centre. We will see Meadowhall bring forward new plans for its own development and see sweeping changes on The Moor. Park Hill will continue its renaissance and regeneration. There will be more cranes on the horizon and more jobs for the people of Sheffield.
We wish you all a successful and happy new year.