Categories
Buildings

Redvers Tower

Redvers Tower. (Image: David Poole)

We are coming up to the time when some of Sheffield’s modernist buildings are commemorating fiftieth birthdays. One such is Redvers House, recently renamed Redvers Tower, built in 1971 on Union Street, by Newman Doncaster Associates.

The 11-storey tower, built on a 3-storey podium, is almost invisible to locals, yet has seemingly dominated the skyline forever.

It is doubtless unloved, notwithstanding its long association as offices for Sheffield City Council’s Social Services departments, perhaps harbouring unpleasant memories within its walls.

Redvers Tower. (Image: David Poole)

Redvers House was opened in 1972 by Keith Joseph, Secretary of State for Social Services, a man who served under four Conservative Prime Ministers – Harold Macmillan, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, Edward Heath, and Margaret Thatcher.

At ground level, we are more familiar with its retail space fronting Furnival Gate, one-time showroom for Allied Carpets, later as a Curry’s electrical store, and now for Nisbets, Europe’s largest catering equipment supplier.

The older of us might remember its copper-tinted glass, set within bright white tiles that blinded under the light of a summer sun. The windows were lost during a £7 million major refurbishment in 2005.

Keith Joseph was met with a picket line when he officially opened Redvers House in 1972. (Image: Picture Sheffield)

According to reliable sources, Redvers House was owned by the council which put it up for sale for nearly £7 million in October 2014, when staff relocated offices to the Moorfoot Building.

It was bought by private rental specialist Make Space, part of the Minton Group, in June 2015, and reconfigured at a cost of £6.2 million to become high-end student accommodation with studio apartments and communal areas.

In 2019, the newly-relaunched Redvers Tower attracted widespread publicity when it was named in the Top Ten Most Instagrammable Student Accommodation properties in the UK, the plush interiors perfecting fine city views.

Alas, the budget did not stretch to cleaning those problematic white tiles, echoing a similar quandary facing John Lewis in Barker’s Pool.

Just one question remains. Does anybody know how it came to be called Redvers House?

Private dinner party room at Redvers Tower. (Image: Leo William)
Redvers Tower. Studio apartment. (Image: Zebra Architects)
City view from Redvers Tower. (Image: Zebra Architects)
Redvers Tower. Communal area. (Image: Zebra Architects)

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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.

Categories
Buildings

Midcity House

Union Street Limited, a Gibraltar-based developer, has submitted plans to Sheffield City Council for the redevelopment of Midcity House, on a site between Pinstone Street, Furnival Gate and Union Street.

The proposal includes the demolition of the existing four-storey concrete-clad building consisting of ground-floor retail, bar, offices and limited student accommodation above.

In its place would be three blocks, up to 25-storeys high, with four ground-floor retail units and 271 dwellings above for the build-to-rent market.

The site once stood on the boundary of old Sheffield Moor, part of a field in 1736, and occupied by houses, shops, workshops and yards by 1771.

Most of the properties survived until 1853 but had been demolished by the late nineteenth-century.

In later times it was occupied by the Nelson Public House, Cambridge Arcade and a series of shops, with most buildings replaced in the 1960s with the present structure.