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“The children spent a warm spring afternoon playing beside the river.”

Platform_, Sylvester Street, Sheffield. Image: DJP/2022

“The children spent a warm spring afternoon playing beside the river. And when their energy was spent, they trod wearily the path across Alsop Fields, passing the old farmhouse that had once belonged to Aulsope Farm.”

This might have happened 300 years ago, and nothing remains of it except Porter Brook.

The large steel structure rising above Sylvester Street, on the outskirts of Sheffield city centre, is the latest chapter in the city’s development. A rural idyll, swallowed by the advancing town, used for industry, and when this declined, utilised for residential.  

The Sylvester Street development is a £75m plan to construct 335 ‘build to rent’ upmarket apartments alongside Porter Brook.

More importantly, once completed, a stretch of the river will be spruced up and opened to the public.

The developer promises to plant vegetation along the edge and place rocks in the middle to slow down the water’s flow and reintroduce habitats for wildlife. A new pedestrian route will run parallel to the river, with a bridge allowing people to access the new buildings. The brook will remain culverted in places – here open spaces are to be created.

It will be respite for the river that suffered at the hands of Sheffield’s industrial development.

Platform_, Sylvester Street, Sheffield. Image: DJP/2022

In 1789, a building called Sylvester’s Wheel stood nearby, land to the west was Joseph Broomhead’s garden, and land to the right was owned by Robert Walker. During the 1800s, Porter Brook was used to power industry and larger scale industrial buildings started appearing including Sylvester Works, Thomas Ellin, and the Oak, Stella, and Crown Steel Works.

By the end of the twentieth century, the downturn in Sheffield’s metalworking industry was reflected in the clearance of most of the site. In 1994, a large retail shed was built on the former Crown steel works, occupied by Carpet World and subsequently by Sofa World. This was demolished about 2009 as were most of the remaining industrial works.

And now, this massive residential development rises above this long-lost green space.  

© 2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved

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Platform_

It’s near Sheffield’s Cultural Industries Quarter, defined by historic street patterns from the 18th century, once home to early water-powered mills and Little Mesters’ metal trades workshops.

These days, the area south of Sylvester Street and north of Mary Street (near Decathlon) is being developed for more city centre residential use.

The next project, a £75million plan to construct 335 ‘build-to-rent’ upmarket apartments alongside the Porter Brook, is due to start in the next few months, developers say.

Platform_, supported by DLP Planning, designed by TateHindle Architects, secured planning permission two years ago, and will be built on the brownfield site, where decontamination works and the shoring up of the Porter Brook, is nearing completion.

The developer has promised to plant vegetation along the edge of the river and place rocks in the middle to slow down the flow and reintroduce habitats for wildlife. A new pedestrian route will run parallel to the river, with a bridge allowing people to access the new buildings.