It is one of Sheffield’s forgotten big houses, but the future of Mount Pleasant on Sharrow Lane looks much brighter.
Hermes Care, supported by Axis Architecture, has submitted a full planning and listed building application to Sheffield City Council for the conversion of the grade II* listed Mount Pleasant building, together with the partial demolition and retention of the former Highfield School building and new build extensions.
Planning permission is sought for the redevelopment of the site to create a care village offering supported living, assisted living and 24-hour specialist care.
The Mount Pleasant Building would be converted into one-, two- and three-bed residential care spaces, and a new-build 39-bedroom care home would be built on the playground area of the former Highfield School building.
The ground floor of Highfield School would be converted to create communal spaces for the new care home with the remainder providing a communal residential care lounge and day centre. The first floor would be converted into four one-, two- and three-bed residential suites.
The plans also include the demolition of former Highfield School extensions and a three-storey new build extension to the south to create 12 one-bed residential suites.
Mount Pleasant is an 18th Century mansion and was built for the Sitwell family by Francis Hurt Sitwell. The house was constructed in 1777 using the architect John Platt (1728– 1810) of Rotherham. When first built, the mansion stood in a rural situation within sight of the centre of Sheffield, surrounded by farmland at the top of a slight gradient overlooking the valley of the River Sheaf.
The Sitwells owned Mount Pleasant for less than 20 years as in 1794 it was sold to Samuel Broomhead Ward. By the 1850s, the family of Thomas Tillotson, a Sheffield merchant, were living at Mount Pleasant, after that the building was utilised for various purposes.
In 1868, the committee of the West Riding County Asylum at Wakefield acquired a five-year lease on Mount Pleasant and used it to alleviate overcrowding at their main hospital. As an asylum, Mount Pleasant accommodated approximately 75 residents, with eight staff, and in 1872, all residents were transferred to the newly built South Yorkshire Asylum at Wadsley.
In 1874, Mount Pleasant became the Girls’ Charity School when it was relocated from its original location in St James Row at the side of Sheffield Cathedral. In 1927, the school was renamed the Mount Pleasant School for Girls.
It was requisitioned for use by the Government during World War II and afterwards the building continued to be used by various Government departments with the Ministry of Works Engineering Department, the Ministry of Fuel and the Ministry of Transport all having office space there.
Mount Pleasant was designated a listed building in May 1952.
By 1961 there was just the National Assistance Board and the Drivers Examiners Department using the buildings, with the latter using the old stables and coach house buildings as offices.
When the building was vacated by the government, it fell into a state of near ruin during the late 1960s and early 1970s, but was restored by the mid-1970s and converted into a Community Centre with the stables used as a Youth Club known as The Stables Connexions Centre.
Only the Stable Block currently remains in use, by Shipshape Health and Wellbeing Centre, with Mount Pleasant left vacant for several years along with the former Highfield School, which was vacated and relocated to a new school on an adjacent site in 2006.
The Stable Block does not form part of the development proposals, with Shipshape being retained as tenants for the foreseeable future.
The Guardians of Mount Pleasant were granted permission to occupy the Mount Pleasant building to maintain a level of on-site security.
However, the former Highfield School building was left empty and has been badly vandalised and impacted by pigeon infestation, and drug users, although thankfully now, the building is secure and has been cleaned internally by the new owners.
The area has suffered extensively from petty crime and the misuse of drugs, with the limited security to the perimeter of the site compounding matters.