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Sid Fletchers Blog

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Park Hill reopening : Two tales, same city

Posted on 7 October, 2011 at 6:59 Comments comments (0)
PARK HILL GRAND (RE) OPENING – TWO TALES FROM THE SAME CITY
0r  I search ParkHill on the Internet ..so you don't have to Part3
 
 
 
 
Show apartments and marketing suite opening Saturday 8th October 2011 from 11am
 
 
 
 
It’s the day before the grand opening of the Urban Splash show flats at Park Hill; Everyone and their dog  seems to be having  (and is likely to be having for the next couple of months) a right royal feeding frenzy about it.
 
There’s been some high profile / high brow events such as the National Youth Theatres production of Slick and also a huge party last week organised by Article Magazine
 
 
 
 
 
 
Probably not my scene anyway….Anyhow there certainly seems to be an air of understandable trepidation within Sheffield about the reopening of the estate and whether or not it’s going to work in the long term; with the usual polar arguments from the pessimists - moaning that it’s a waste of money, time, dumping ground for problems, a blot on Sheffield skyline etc etc yawn - to the more progressive  hopeful optimists (My good self included)  - we all know a pessimist is never disappointed eh! This comment from a prospective buyer is a very encouraging one and I certainly hope more indicative of things to come  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I grew up in a village in the Derbyshire dales and Sheffield was always our closest major city. The place you went to but records, to go to concerts and to begin to grow up into. I was always brought up to look down my nose at Park Hill. A place for those who lived on benefits, didn’t contribute anything and spent their lives indulging in anti-social behaviour.
As I grew up, I got to know a number of people who lived at Park Hill and learned that its inhabitants were just like everyone else - stuggling through life and making the same mistakes as everyone else. I now visit family in derbyshire regularly and this entails a trip through the centre of sheffield. Each time my eyes drift towards the Park Hill skyline and I am thrilled to see how its changed on each consecutive visit. I happen to think that English Heritage are almost a liability under Simon Thurleys leadership, but on this decision they were not wrong.
I am delighted that this important element of Shgeffield’s social history is being brought back to life and with
any luck I will be first in line to buy one when they become available.
 
 
 
 
Discussion has ranged  from the colour of the iodised exterior panels, to the interior design, to how much they are; to much more serious fundamental and ethical questions such as who is going to live there ?, are private Landlords going to buy en masse,   how many social tenants or units of affordable housing are there likely to be and so on ad infinitum … Urban Splash have indicated there’s been tons of interest with at a ratio of 20 enquiries per unit so things are definitely looking good …
 
 
 
 
 
Urban Splash says it has been "delighted" with the response, with about 1,000 people signing up for information ahead of the first sales, and strong interest from businesses. If Park Hill is successfully reborn – far from a certainty for a project which has already required one public bailout – it will complete a 50-year full circle for the estate and indicate a possible wider shift in public opinion towards such postwar schemes.
 
 
 
For all you armchair design critics out here here’s the Brochure and also the promotional YouTube clip
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ead whatthe Guardian and the Sheffield Telegraph have to say
 
 
There’s no doubt that the spec and design layout of these flats is world class and highly enviable – it does seem clear that the market there’re aiming to reach with this phase of the refurbishment is that of Urban professional
 (People seem to have dropped the “young” from this phrase - post millennia)
 
That said however it seems unclear about how a mix of social housing within the refurb is to be achieved - there is no more poignant moment to emphasize this than the video from TheOneShow; when former caretaker Grenville Squires looks around the new flats
 
– I was always under the understanding that some Social housing tenants were to be placed there;   indeed the re-housing list was already full of ex tenants who enjoyed living there so much they wanted to return.
 
It is somewhat frustrating to see so many inhabitable empty flats in the other parts of the estate with such a huge waiting list for to be rehoused – That said though it does give the lover of the Urban Environment a window of a couple of years to sit isolated within such a massive scheme - and take in the whole ambience of Brutalism in its finest and ultimately derelict form
 
 
 
 
Very good thought provoking comment on
 
 
 
•   Regeneration? What's happening in Sheffield's Park Hill is class cleansing
MelKelly's comment 28 September 2011 7:46PM
In the supposed free market councils are not allowed to borrow to build housing, yet housing associations can and property developers can.
If the market is free why successive government since have Margaret Thatcher's refused to let councils borrow to build social housing?
What good reason is there?
Councils invest for the long term need, not the short term profit, setting rents at affordable prices to cover the costs - not for making profit - and the private sector don't want to compete with that - so government's have kept the ban on councils building social housing in place.
So we are deprived of social housing to ensure private landlords can maximise profits in a rented housing monopoly.
And the end result is houses that councils would have rented out for £300 being rented out by the private sector for £800 per month
Why should any government be allowed to manipulate the market to deprive people of housing and maximize private sector profits which has resulted in mass homelessness and extortion by private sector landlords
It is time for the housing market to have the shackles removed and become truly free i.e. councils can borrow to build social housing and rent it out at affordable rates if that is what local people want.
I think it is time we had a referendum on this issue
 
 
 
 I still can’t understand why Sheffield City Council decanted residents pretty much enmasse from ParkHill;  Maybe they thought they could then demolish it without anyone noticing! I agree with Owen Hatherley on this - maybe the empty flats should be squatted?  but there again why should I understand any logic from the Council ; Its happy to entrust me with potential life or death decisions about who goes to hospital in the middle of the night; but won’t trust me to get an envelope from the stationary cupboard to send a GP a report!
 
 
 
Don’t get me wrong; this is a criticism of Local government than a criticism of UrbanSplash; if anyone is going to make Park Hill work then I believe it’s them,
Having stayed within some of their developments in Manchester which were categorically perceived as slums 10-15 years ago its amazing how much Urban Splash have  changed whole areas round. So at risk of being accused a naïve,  rose tinted spec wearing , splinter-arsed,fence sitter - I largely wish that the regeneration is a huge success –  
 
 Finally for all you old retro post war vintage nostalgia loving romantics here’s some great films of ParkHill first time round, get the tea and HobNobs out and enjoy…
 
 
Streets in the sky
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I research ParkHill on the internet ..so you don't have to Part 2

Posted on 19 September, 2011 at 14:45 Comments comments (0)
Still tons and tons of interest and intrigue locally, nationally and (ahem) internationally regarding the developments at ParkHill 
 
 Apparently the show flats’ll be available for viewing from the 8th of October (form an orderly queue please)  here’s what some of the papers have to say about the refurbishment–
 
 
Firstly lets start closest to home -  here’s  the Sheffield Star –
 
 
Towerblockmetal fans will be glad to see I actually responded against the tirade of miserable drizzlers who are happy to condemn ParkHill and other high density social housing projects to the dustbin; blaming the buildings themselves as causing many social problems -check out the reasoned and well thought out contributions by some locals !
 
Also check out sneaky pics of the PH showflats  on the BBC  page
 
 
 
Everyone has their 15 minutes of fame – well Roy Hattersley and Grenville Squires certainly managed 5 minutes of theirs on the OneShow ; talking about Park Hill - Roy Hattersley was involved in the commissioning of  the estate from its inception in the 1950s and remembers well the ideals and visions of the planners at time ; Grenville Squires (now retired and semi legendary ) was  the  caretaker on ParkHill for the past 30 years and has always spoke vehemently in its defence.
 
 
Watching the clip i couldn't help but feel a bit sorry for Grenville, who has obviously dedicated  so much of his time and effort into making ParkHill a positive place to live in and defended it from the doom mongers who've never been there. It felt like ParkHill  no longer needed Grenville and he was obsolete; i sincerely hope this isn't the case . The man deserves a statue!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photo-  SingleAspect
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Not one to miss out on anything to do with ParkHill the unstoppable Single Aspect has been back in Sheffield again-  to attend the recent Heritage days and also the "Brutalist Speculations" Conference  at  the Site gallery- the guy just can't stay away!
 
 –Although I was regretfully unable to attend said conference due to my work committments   I  did manage to meet up several times for housing tours, cooked breakfasts, general Urban derive and many a few beer or ten - ( I'd like to think Single Aspect feels  my city tours are better-could show Owen Hatherley a thing or two)
 
 
A nice add on to all this was our "Twilight tour" showing Senior staff of the 20C Society around the outer estates at dusk ; viewing the newly built Larkin Grove  at Parson Cross, the city vista from  Gleadless Valley and Norfolk Park and the finale ending up at the illuminated Moore Street Substation
 
 
Larkin Grove - Parson Cross
 
 
 
 
I can't say i'm overenthusiastic about the look;
 too much like something off CeeBeeBies for me
..but there're certainly interesting
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Also ParkHill has made the shortlist for the 2011
 World Architecture Festival awards in the Future category
 It is the only UK building to be shortlisted in its category (residential)
the only UK project to be shortlisted in its category
 
 
Also check  this out from BuildingDesign 
 
 
 
Any non believers that say Tower blocks don't work and can't be managed  would do well to read the following article from the Guardian;  demonstrating that with the right mix of tenants (who want to be there) and simple concierge – the most deprived housing areas can be made to function well for the urban setting . It is a good article   also for believers to back up their arguments
 
Keep in touch folks - TowerBlockMetal mugs, cards and prints are now on sale at the Moonko stall in the Nicholls building Shalesmoor ,Sheffield
Grand opening event Saturday 24thb September