We all watched with interest when Telephone House on Wellington Street underwent mega-renovation a few years ago.
Sheffield’s thirteenth tallest building, standing at 56 metres, was typical of late sixties office blocks that leapt up around the country.
After World War Two, the city adopted a comprehensive redevelopment plan for the area between Cambridge Street and Upper Hanover Street. Part of this strategy allowed the General Post Office (GPO) to build a 15-storey glass-fronted block in place of old housing.
Building started in the late 1960s and was completed by 1972. It was used to manage the telephone network in the area while parts of the lower building included independent retail units as well as a multi-storey car park. Yorkshire Television (YTV) later installed technical equipment on the roof linking the studio in Charter Row to its Leeds studios.
Telephone House was subsequently re-badged with a huge BT logo when the GPO became British Telecommunications in 1980.
In 2012, BT announced it was closing Telephone House and selling the property to a business consortium, Ace Liberty and Stone, which intended to sell-off parts of the building to developers. BT vacated the building in October with the loss of around 400 jobs.
In March 2014, the tower block section, excluding the retail units and car park, were sold to Vita Student, a developer, which converted the offices into ‘high-standard’ apartments for students. The project started in July 2014, costing £35million, and involved complete refurbishment of the interior as well as an exterior facelift. A sixteenth floor was added containing 14 luxury penthouses and suites.
Work finished in August 2015 leaving Telephone House offering ‘the World’s best student accommodation’ – SMART TVs, big double beds and large kitchens – as well as communal facilities including cinema, entertainment areas, gym, laundry and a library/study area.
The accommodation isn’t cheap, anywhere between £176 to £260 per week – and has appealed to foreign students, with deep pockets, attending both universities.