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How did that happen? Sheffield tops high street recovery charts

It might not look like it, but we are told that Sheffield has seen a significant increase in footfall in recent months. According to data collected by Centre for Cities, Sheffield city centre saw a huge increase in footfall in September, with the level reaching 89% of the pre-pandemic average – way above the UK urban average of 73%. Footfall figures included not only residents but people venturing into the city from other parts of the country.

Crowds gather to watch performances during the African-Caribbean market last month. Photograph: Sheffield City Council

The Centre for Cities figures were so impressive that Sheffield came out on top with the best high street recovery score of the 63 largest towns and cities in the UK in September.

Whilst Sheffield is still not seeing the footfall of pre-pandemic levels, compared to other big towns and cities we are on the up and doing well considering the circumstances people faced during the pandemic.

And it appears large numbers of people chose Sheffield as a destination to visit while the events were taking place. Occupancy in hotels in and around the city rose to 79.5% – making Sheffield the highest scoring northern city except for York during September.

At the end of October, the African-Caribbean market, the first of its kind put on in the city as part of Black History Month in Sheffield, attracted thousands of people to the city centre.

That week alone, around 180,000 people visited Fargate, with a 30.9% footfall increase, equating to around an extra 30,000 people. There was also a 19.3% increase in footfall at Moor Market, equating to around 10,000 extra people.

Centre for Cities is a leading think tank, set up in 2005 by Lord Salisbury of Turville, dedicated to improving the economies of the UK’s largest towns and cities.

I’m sure we’d all like to know how the data is collated.

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Other Streets

Gritting Sheffield’s roads: Winter is a season of recovery and preparation

Gritter lorries on standby at the Streets Ahead Olive Grove depot. Photograph: Sheffield City Council

Temperatures are set to fall this week, with ice and possibly some snow forecast, and Sheffield’s gritters are ready to treat the roads. One thing is certain, we’ll all have a good moan if they get it wrong.

There are five weather stations across the city providing up-to-the-minute weather forecasts. This helps Streets Ahead contractor Amey to determine when there is a need to grit our roads.

Contrary to belief, over 60% of the city’s highway network is gritted in priority order. That is 610 miles of urban and rural roads and can take up to 8.5 hours to complete a full gritting run. Priority 1 routes include main arterial roads linking Sheffield to other towns and motorways. Priority 2 routes are bus routes, link roads, roads where public service facilities are located, and rural routes. Snow is also cleared from city centre pavements, but pavements across the city are not gritted anymore.

As the temperature drops to near freezing point the gritters will be out, but it isn’t grit they are spreading. It is rock salt. And the salt used comes from mines of ancient underground deposits in Cleveland, County Antrim, and below the Cheshire town of Winsford, and lowers the freezing point of moisture. Pure salt is the most effective pre-treatment, but grit is often added once snow has started to lay and compact.

The pre-treating of the highway network mitigates the formation of ice and snow, although traffic is needed to make it effective. Very often, when an area has slush or rainfall, it washes the salt away and makes the road vulnerable again, necessitating them to be re-gritted a second time before the weather freezes.

Gritter lorries and road rollers at Sheffield Works Department’s Manor Lane site in 1982. Photograph: Picture Sheffield

In 2003, the Highways Act 1980 was amended to place Sheffield City Council (and others) under a legal obligation to keep the roads clear. According to the amendment: “A highway authority are under a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that safe passage along a highway is not endangered by snow or ice.”

It is a far cry from Victorian times when sand was shovelled off the backs of horses and carts, and although the switch to motor vehicles greatly improved operations, it wasn’t until the development of the first spinning salt distribution gritter in 1970 by Ripon-based Econ Engineering that the process was speeded up.

Today, Econ supply 85% of the UK’s rock salt spreaders and even have a dedicated gritting museum with fully restored vintage road maintenance vehicles, gritters, spreaders and snowploughs.

October is the start of the Streets Ahead winter maintenance period and is in operation 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Photograph: Sheffield City Council

Whilst rock salt has been the choice for generations it can have a negative effect on soil and plants, interfering with the nitrogen cycle, and causing roots to absorb salt instead of important minerals. Salt water can also drain into soil affecting insects and can disturb the eco-system in watercourses. In addition, sodium chloride can be harmful to animals. And let’s not forget that it can cause damage to road surfaces.

As you might expect, alternative methods are being sought including urea (used in the production of fertilizer), potassium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium acetate (all incredibly expensive), beet juice, cat litter (yes, you read right), sand, ashes, and stone grits. Other eco-friendly alternatives being explored are cheese brine, garlic salt, potato juice, pickle brine and coffee grounds.

But for now, it seems rock salt will be here for a while because it remains cheap and readily available.

Finally, the truth surrounding gritter lorries in the summer. In very hot weather when tar is at risk of melting the gritters spread salt. This absorbs moisture from the air and cools the tar and creates a non-stick road surface.

Gritter and snowplough seen here in a wintery 1977. Photograph: Picture Sheffield

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved

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Other

What is the furthest point from Sheffield?

Remember the furthest point (i.e. the antipode) is likely to be in the ocean somewhere, so when considering which point is the farthest away, you need to really look at cities.

And so, the furthest city away from Sheffield appears to be Dunedin, the second-largest city in the South Island of New Zealand (after Christchurch), and the principal city of the Otago region, and is 18,994km away.

Known as the Edinburgh of New Zealand, Dunedin wears its Scottish heritage with pride. Surrounded by dramatic hills and at the foot of a long, picturesque harbour, Dunedin is one of the best-preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere.

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved

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Buildings Other

Don’t block the daylight – our right to ancient lights

A person was historically entitled to ‘ancient lights’ if natural light and air had passed freely through their windows for a certain amount of time. Newman Passage, London. These old signs can still be found around the country, although seemingly not in Sheffield. Photograph: Matt Brown.

You might not be aware of an ancient piece of legislation that affected the way many of Sheffield’s old buildings, and new ones for that matter, were built. The Ancient Lights Law was the right of a building or house owner to the light received from and through his windows. Windows used for light by an owner for 20 years or more could not be obstructed by the erection of another building. This rule of law originated in England in 1663, although was superseded by the 1832 Prescription Act.

If a neighbour attempted to infringe upon this by building a structure or planting trees, the owner had the power to sue them for ‘nuisance’.

The law led to the placement of ‘Ancient Light’ signs under windows that were protected by the ordinance, and today some of these signs can still be found on buildings around London, although I’m not aware of any in Sheffield.

In the 1920s, an Ancient Lights expert, Percy Waldram, proposed a method that would, ideally, standardise, the amount of light people could claim. He suggested that ‘ordinary people’ required one-foot candle (a measure of light intensity) for reading and other work.

The London & Midland Bank (now part of Lloyds Bank), on High Street, Sheffield, was built in 1895 taking into account the ‘ancient lights’ of older properties on the other side of York Street. The opposite corner was later redeveloped with the Telegraph Building which had to reciprocate the ‘right to light’ of the bank.
When built, the Telegraph Building had to conform to the control of heights to which buildings were permitted, and the ancient rights of light afforded to properties opposite and adjacent. Hence the broken skyline, the setting back of the upper storeys and the pyramidal form of the building. Even the tower had to be kept with an angle of 45 degrees.

In Sheffield, the design and construction of many of our old buildings was dictated by rights to light. One such, the Telegraph Building, on High Street, had to be built in such a way as not to affect light to properties on the other side of the street.

We’ve also covered the old Mulberry Tavern, on Mulberry Street, which took the owners of the ‘new’ Victoria Hall to court because its construction had affected light inside the pub.

And there have been other cases.

In 1900, Mappin and Webb objected to the building of a property on the other side of Norfolk Street because it would have affected light coming into its ground-floor showroom.

The Sheffield Cathedral extension in the 1930s prompted discourse from occupiers on St. James’ Row, as did the building of Central Library from the Lyceum Theatre and Masonic Hall.

Broadcasting House, the BBC’s London headquarters, owes its peculiar shape to Ancient Lights claims made by residents of since-demolished nearby homes – the slanting of the east side of the building was a concession to those people’s light-rights. Photograph: Shortlist.

The power that property owners have, to demand ample daylight, is still a relevant debate. However, modern planning laws usually prevent disputes afterwards.

Interestingly, the Ancient Lights doctrine never caught on in the United States where it was deemed restrictive of new commercial and residential developments and thus limiting urban growth.  

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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Other

Like it or not, Sheffield’s seagulls are here to stay

Have you noticed a lot of seagulls recently? Their cries can be heard throughout the city centre, and out into the suburbs. And more than one person has said, “It must be bad weather on the coast because they’ve come inland.”

The closest beach as the crow flies is Cleethorpes Central Beach, in North East Lincolnshire, and is 62 miles from Sheffield. Seagulls have always come inland during winter for the simple reason that it’s warmer in urban areas, but now it seems we may have to get used to them all year long.

As far as we know, it was about 40 years ago, that some gulls decided they preferred Sheffield, and stayed on during the rest of the year. They first started to roost and gather in local parks like Meersbrook Park and Graves Park, back in the ice-cold grip of the winters of 1979 and 1980.

Now they can be seen across the city, with large groups reported in the city centre and around Crystal Peaks.

A disruption in the ready supply of fish, particularly waste, due to changes in the fishing industry, could be a contributing factor in the gulls heading inland.

Adult birds (3 years and over) having once bred in a town or city will generally return to the same colony year after year, often to the same nesting site.

Mating activity will start in February when birds begin to identify nesting sites, courting is in full swing by March, and by April the nest will have been made. Typically, eggs will be laid in late April or May, and the eggs start to hatch in June. Matters get much worse in July and August when the young birds fledge (begin to fly).

It appears to be only the Herring and Lesser black-backed gulls that breed in Sheffield. They prefer flat roofs with a little substrate (gravel etc). They build a very simple nest of moss and other vegetation and if needs be this can be done in a matter of hours. Typically three eggs are laid in each nest. On a modern building, nests will tend to be built behind a parapet wall or where there is protection from the elements.

Gulls like circling round tall buildings: they use the updraughts to gain height, while they socialise or study the neighbourhood for food.

It is thought that the Moorfoot building has provided perfect nesting and roosting points for them, and there is lots of food which is easily available. Even if not fed by people there are always rubbish dumps and litter they can eat, for example, fish and chips dropped on pavements.

Much of the birds’ success in cities is due to their long lives, which allows the birds to build up an extensive memory of where and how to find food. Unlike garden songbirds (which generally live 3-5 years), gulls can live decades and accumulate valuable experience. 

Young gulls have been brought up with no knowledge of anywhere except urban life. None of them know how to catch a fish and have now reached the third or fourth generation.

And so, it appears that our seagulls are here to stay.

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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Other People

Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Sheffield Banker

The August 1948 edition of America’s Cosmopolitan Magazine which featured ‘The Last Adventure of Sherlock Holmes – The Man Who Was Wanted.’ Photograph: WorthPoint.

This might have been called ‘Arthur Conan Doyle’s Last Case,’ except it was one which that great writer left to others to solve and involved a story with Sheffield connections.

Arthur Conan Doyle died in 1930 and several documents, unused typescripts, and odd papers, were placed in a deed box by Lady Conan Doyle. Among them were some typewritten pages headed, ‘The Man Who Was Wanted,’ recounting a hitherto unrelated adventure of the great Sherlock Holmes.

Reference was made to it by Hesketh Pearson, a biographer of Conan Doyle, and the revelation caused a literary stir. People clamoured for its publication, American and British editors approached the Conan Doyle family, and tempting prices were mentioned. But the family were unwilling to sell at the time.

Some years later, the American Cosmopolitan magazine acquired the right to print the story in the United States, and in Britain, shortly after Christmas 1948, it was published by the Sunday Dispatch.

It prompted a letter to the Conan Doyle family from Arthur Whitaker, a slim, grey-haired man, who was living in Longridge, near Stroud, and spent his days collecting ornithology reports from bird-watchers in Gloucestershire.

“You know that story called ‘The Man Who Was Wanted,’ which appeared in an American magazine and in the Sunday Dispatch? Well, I wrote it. I don’t want any money or publicity, of course, but I just thought you’d like to know, that’s all.”

It caused upset in the Conan Doyle family and a solicitor began to investigate the claim. He interviewed Whitaker, examined a letter from Arthur Conan Doyle, and saw that he had an exact carbon copy of ‘The Man Who Was Wanted.’

“It is quite simple, really,” said Mr Whitaker. “In 1911 I was a young architect, married, and living in Barnsley. I thought I might earn a little more money by writing detective stories, so I wrote five or six. One was called ‘The Man Who Was Wanted.’ I sent it to Arthur Conan Doyle, asking him whether he ever collaborated in story-writing, and if he would like to collaborate with me.

“He replied that the story was not bad, but that he did not collaborate; he sometimes paid ten guineas, however, for an idea which he later worked up in his own way. He advised me to change the names in the story and get it published myself. However, I accepted the ten guineas, and he retained the typescript. That’s all there is to it, really.”

Because the typescript was unsolicited, the Conan Doyle family had retained it but held back on publication believing it was not up to the great man’s standards. However, Arthur Conan Doyle’s son, Denis, had eventually allowed publication with a note to that effect, and adding that the family had at last yielded to public pressure and had allowed it to be printed.

Arthur Whitaker, a ‘simple, frank type of man, living in Barnsley, away back in 1911, when there were hansom cabs, and young men wore luxuriant moustaches and straw boaters.’ Photograph: British Newspaper Archive.

And the Sheffield Connection? I quote from the pages of ‘The Man Who Was Wanted.’

“Holmes picked up a telegram from the table and looked at it thoughtfully. “If only the inquiry this refers to promised to be of anything like the interest of some we have gone into together, nothing would have delighted me more than to have persuaded you to throw your lot in with mine for a time; but really I’m afraid to do so, for it sounds a particularly commonplace affair,” and he crumpled the paper into a ball and tossed it over to me.

“I smoothed it out and read: “To Holmes, 221B Baker Street, London, S.W. Please come to Sheffield at once to inquire into case of forgery. Jervis, Manager British Consolidated Bank.”

“It appears that a gentleman named Mr. Jabez Booth, who resides at Broomhill, Sheffield, and has been an employee since January I88I, at the British Consolidated Bank in Sheffield, yesterday succeeded in cashing quite a number of cleverly forged cheques at twelve of the principal banks in the city and absconding with the proceeds.”

The Conan Doyle family returned the money it received from the Sunday Dispatch and the newspaper forwarded it to Arthur Whitaker to help him support his seriously wife.

The story itself eventually appeared in ‘The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: After Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.’ It was credited to Arthur Whitaker and retitled ‘The Adventure of the Sheffield Banker.’

Photograph: Goodreads.
Photograph: Goodreads.

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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Other Places

How the Norfolks and the Fitzwilliams took the people’s acres

Once upon a time Sheffield town was surrounded by fields, moorland, and pasture. Much of this land was ‘common’ or ‘waste’ land. Common land was under the control of the Lord of the Manor, with certain rights, such as pasture, held by certain nearby properties. Waste was land without value, unsuitable for farming, and often in awkward locations.

In 1773, during the reign of George III, an Act of Parliament created a law that enabled inclosure (or enclosure) of land, at the same time removing the rights of commoners’ access.

As a result, common land, moorland, and other property of the people, was distributed amongst landowners of the district.  

In the Manor of Ecclesall about 1,000 acres of common land was lost by an Act in 1779.

Three Commissioners – William Hill, of Tadcaster, Samuel Brailsford, of Rowthorne, and John Renshaw, of Bakewell – distributed the land accordingly among landowners.

The Marquis of Rockingham (Fitzwilliam) of Wentworth Woodhouse, as Lord of the Manor, benefited most, while the Earl of Surrey (as Duke of Norfolk) obtained all the tythes and two thirds of the small tythes in Ecclesall that lay on both the north and south side of the Porter Brook.  Andrew Wilkinson, Bethiah Jessop, Philip Gell, John Gell, Mary Catherine Gell and Mary Gell were entitled to the other third part of the tythes for the land lying on the south side of Porter Brook, and James Wilkinson, as Vicar of the Parish Church at Sheffield, was entitled to the remainder of the small tythes on both sides of the Brook.

The commoners were outraged, it caused significant unrest, but they were powerless to stop the loss of land.

In 1909, the old deed was rediscovered in archives at the Ecclesall Board of Guardians, and the full extent of the land division laid bare.

It showed that some of the most fashionable residential quarters of Sheffield had developed from these waste lands, that the most thriving centres of industry had sprung up on old moorland, and that what were once common lands had become villa residences paying fat ground rents.

Land that fell within the Inclosure Act included Little Sheffield Moor, Carter Knowle, Brincliffe, Bent’s Green, Whirlow, Millhouses, Greystones, Sharrow Moor, and Sharrow Head.

The streets in the vicinity of Sheffield Moor were set out by the Commissioners.  For instance, Carver Street, Rockingham Street, Bright Street, Earl Street, Alsop Lane, Jessop Street, Tudor Street, Duke Street (later Matilda Street), Cumberland Street, Hereford Street, Bishop Street, Button Lane, and Porter Lane, were all inclosure roads formed at this time out of what was then called Little Sheffield Moor.

Other new roads indicate the localities where inclosure took place, it being necessary to make new roads to give access to the owners of the new allotments – Fulwood Road, Clarkehouse Road, Manchester Turnpike Road, Whirlow Road, Ecclesall Wood Road, Dead Lane, Button Hill Road, Cherrytree Hill Road, Tapton Hill Road, Broomhill Bridle Road, Whiteley Wood Road, Greystones Road, High Storrs Road, Ranmoor Road, Dobbing Hill Road, Little Common Road, Holt House Road, Brincliffe Road and Machon Bank Road.

The discovery of the buried deed caused quite a stir in Sheffield with the naïve realisation that land had long before been taken from the people and gifted to aristocracy and the well-to-do.

In 1909, there were  a great many people complaining about unfair taxation when it was proposed to take a generous portion of their money.

The irony was not lost on the Sheffield Daily Independent:

“It would be interesting to know what those who were crying so loudly, about the people taking from their landlords, would say about what the landlords had taken from the people.

“There was a large amount of land at Bradfield which was taken from the people, chiefly by the Duke of Norfolk. It was taken from them under the pretext that it was waste land, and if it were inclosed and given to private individuals, they would cultivate it. It was still moorland, however, and if the people dared go off the roadway, and walked on to the moors, they would soon meet somebody who would inform them that they were trespassing.”

And so, Sheffield expanded, swallowing the gifted lands that became the roads and suburbs we know today. Somewhere, concealed in dusty old archives, will be the story of how these lands, taken from the people, delivered a huge fortune for the landowners.

NOTE: Thanks to Sheffield Indexers and the British Newspaper Archive for details of the Ecclesall Inclosure Act.

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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Buildings Other

“Suddenly, there was a deafening roar, a crash of breaking glass and – silence!”

On Tuesday April 4, 1923, about nine o’clock in the evening, London Road, at the corner with Sharrow Lane, was quiet, only a handful of people going about their business.

Suddenly, there was a deafening roar, a crash of breaking glass and – silence!

The loud explosion caused terror in the neighbourhood and within minutes hundreds of people swarmed out of their little houses and surrounded Highfield House at the bottom of Sharrow Lane.

Police officers from Highfield police station, about 100 yards away, rushed to the scene but had difficulty reaching the house through the crowd.

Highfield House was the home of Dr George Scott Davidson and he emerged at the front of the house to speak with the police.

Dr Davidson and his wife had just finished dinner and were traumatised by a loud explosion at the back of the property.

The police tried to move the crowds away from Highfield House and used flashlights to search the garden at the rear.

The house was unscathed, but remains of garden trellis work was strewed across the ground and glass in small garden frames had been destroyed.

“We rushed into the grounds, but could see very little, of course, except the frames were badly smashed,” said Dr Davidson. “I have not the slightest doubt the damage was caused by a bomb, but I cannot imagine any reason for the affair.”

And so, Sheffield newspapers filled their pages with the story of ‘another bomb,’ because a week earlier a similar explosion had occurred 200 yards away, in the back yard of a shop at the junction of Randall Street and London Road.

After the Highfield House episode, people told stories of the event.

“It was a noise like rumbling thunder,” said a woman who lived in a house some considerable distance away, “and the windows shook in their frames.”

A boy named Alec Winston, who was playing cards with a friend at 38 Sharrow lane, the nearest house, was thrown to the floor.

“It was a terrific bang, and I thought someone was showering stones onto the windows of the house.”

Closer inspection revealed that broken glass covered the window-sills and steps to No. 38, pieces of glass had shot over the 10ft walls from Highfield House into yards of several adjoining properties. Worse for others, soot had fallen down chimneys filling rooms and covering furniture.

The following day police began investigating the bomb explosion and worked on the theory that it had been thrown from one of the courts at the rear of Grosvenor Square or Sharrow Street, behind Highfield House, but no suspicious characters had been seen.

The neighbourhood was a small, congested area, a far cry from the days when Highfield stood in large grounds in the countryside. It was now isolated by shops on London Road, a large garden in Sharrow Lane, and the houses in Sharrow Street and Grosvenor Square behind.

It was suggested the bomb had been thrown towards the house but had hit the garden trellis causing it to fall short of its target.

However, further examination by police officers revealed a more menacing scenario.

A portion of time fuse was found in the garden, and furthermore the force of the blast had been downwards, suggesting a certain deliberateness that defeated the suggestion it had been thrown by some irresponsible person.
It seemed the device had been made up from gunpowder or dynamite, possibly a mining or quarrying charge, because no fragments of a bomb were found.

The perpetrator must have entered the grounds to lay and ignite the fuse.

Police made numerous enquiries but could not find a reason for the bomb.

There were suggestions it might have been placed by those with Irish connections and suspicion was directed at the out-of-control gangs from around West Bar and Park.

The leaders of the Communist Party in Sheffield denied any knowledge.

“It is not in our line, and we would not do things this way.”

In the end, police believed the two separate explosions, undoubtedly linked, might have been carried out by a ‘desperate man,’ who might have got possession of an explosive.

The Sheffield Daily Telegraph tried to downplay the incident, possibly at the request of puzzled police.

“It seems scarcely conceivable that anybody who deliberately was trying to cause serious damage would place whatever explosive in a cucumber frame many yards from the house, while such a receptacle would certainly add to the effect of any efforts merely to produce a ‘big bang.’

“On the whole there seems no cause for anyone to get very nervous, though the sooner the practical joker, or escaped lunatic, who is responsible, is brought to book the better.”

The mystery was never solved but the bomb scares caused many people to look uneasily at their First World War souvenirs – nose caps, cartridges, ‘dud’ bombs and in many cases live bombs which for the previous five years had occupied an honoured place on the mantelshelf or sideboard. Dozens of people paid hurried visits to the Central Police Station in Water Lane to hand them in.

NOTES: Built about 1788 for John Henfrey, Brightfield House was renamed Highfield House by Dr Charles Nelson Gwynne in 1880. His surgery was later taken over by Dr George Scott Davidson. It remained a doctor’s surgery until the 1970s and later became the Charnwood Hotel. The house has since been converted into apartments known as Wisteria Gardens. In the 1920s, Randall Street ran from Bramall Lane to London Road but only exists today between Bramall Lane and Hill Street.

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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Other

Merry Christmas

I think we can agree that 2020 has been an awful year for us all. But we can be proud that the ‘Spirit’ of Sheffield is as strong as ever, and like other traumatic periods in our history, we will emerge a much stronger city.

The pandemic has played havoc with Sheffielder posts because time and resource had to be invested elsewhere.

However, the support has been unwavering, and I’d like to thank each and every one of you for taking time to read, comment and share the posts.

Things will be different this Christmas, but I would like to take this opportunity to offer my best wishes, and hopes for a better year ahead. Be positive, keep safe, and look after one another.

You are never alone in our fine city.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

David Poole

Categories
Other Streets

Connecting Sheffield

Our city centre may take on a new look if plans to pedestrianise large swathes of it get the go ahead. Sheffield City Council want to make foot and bicycle journeys easier and quicker, while streamlining public transport services.

The proposals include pedestrianisation to Pinstone Street and Leopold Street, linking Fargate with the Peace Gardens, as well as Charles Street between Union Street and Pinstone Street. The pedestrianisation of Surrey Street would create a traffic-free Town Hall Square.

Work would include more greenery, replicating the ‘Grey-to-Green’ scheme already seen between Castlegate and West Bar.

Bus gates would be installed in both directions on Furnival Gate, and along Arundel Gate to Norfolk Street

Rockingham Street would get a new bus hub with improvements to pavements, green planting, a pocket park, and bus stops.

The future of our city? Pedestrianisation of Pinstone Street and Charles Street connects with Heart of the City II redevelopment, due for completion in 2021. (Image: Connecting Sheffield)

Of course, there are benefits to the scheme – improved air quality, better accessibility to shops and businesses, a more attractive city centre, and public spaces that create city uniqueness.

Artist impressions paint a bright picture, but there are notes of caution.

Sheffield city centre is at a midpoint in its regeneration, with the pandemic decimating footfall, and placing even more uncertainty on retail, hospitality, and office space requirements.

The city centre is a travesty of its former self, Covid-19 exposing retailers already reeling from Meadowhall and the internet. And, after restrictions are eventually lifted, how many pubs, bars, and restaurants, will have survived?   

Half-hearted attempts to open cycle lanes at the heart of the city, further reducing traffic flow, have met with lukewarm response. With respects to cyclists, our seven hills make four wheels the favoured choice in and out of the city.

The prospect of a Town Hall Square, with pedestrian access and cycle routes linking Fargate, Leopold Street, Surrey Street, and the Peace Gardens. (Image: Connecting Sheffield).

The key to any redevelopment must take into consideration transport links.

Cars are already deterred from entering due to over-complicated traffic flow and the extortionate cost of parking. Our buses remain empty, not least because nobody knows where they go, or where to catch them anymore. Our elderly citizens must walk a distance to catch a bus, and the question remains whether they will bother anymore?

We must tread carefully, mindful that change must happen if our city centre is to be revitalised.

Any changes must take place before 2023 to qualify for a Government grant, managed by Sheffield City Region, and must be subject of public consultation.  

An overview of the ‘Connecting Sheffield’ proposal, providing a green space around the city centre. (Image: Connecting Sheffield)

Connecting Sheffield

© 2020 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.