Pinstone Street, the home of Sheffield’s independent fast food

The one good thing to come out of the Sevenstone delay?

Fanoush Falafel and the Street Food Chef

Fanoush Falafel and the Street Food Chef

As we wait to find out what the latest talks between the council and Hammerson mean for Sheffield’s Sevenstone retail quarter, an independent food revolution is quietly happening in town.

Pinstone Street is one of the key roads on the edge of the proposed development. In anticipation of demolition and construction work beginning many of the old shops closed down or moved to alternative locations, leaving a depressing row of empty units.

Not for long though. The good news is that a growing number of tasty food outlets have moved in and are breathing life into the vacant shops on Pinstone Street.

The award-winning Street Food Chef arrived first, serving up Mexican street food from tacos, burritos to empanadas. Their breakfast burritos are delicious.

Flurt frozen yoghurt in Sheffield

Flurt frozen yoghurt on PInstone Street

Then Flurt opened a few doors up, offering fat-free frozen yoghurt. A perfect pudding if you’ve got room after your lunchtime burrito.

And this morning Claire from Feast and Glory revealed that Fanoush Falafel is opening next door to the Street Food Chef. Fanoush already have a shop on London Road so it is great to see them opening in town.

What all three of these outlets have in common is that they are independent businesses, offering an alternative to the food chains that you can find in any city. The food is fast, tasty and relatively healthy. They’re definitely worth supporting.

It’s ironic that without Sevenstone these great food outlets may not have opened at all on Pinstone Street. Perhaps the growth of these businesses points to the approach we should take for a city centre retail quarter: if you create favourable terms for people to take on shops in good locations then local, independent businesses can flourish, even alongside the big chains. The city centre needs both.

Make the most of these foodie gems while you can, as a green light for Sevenstone could mean the end of these independent food outlets in prime city centre locations.


Forgotten Spaces competition: from ideas to reality?

Can you help make the ideas happen?

Could Guiding Lights by Chris Paterson become a reality?

Could Guiding Lights by Chris Paterson become a reality?

Last month the winner of the Forgotten Spaces competition was announced.

Guiding Lights, designed by Chris Paterson, brings to life Frog Walk, between Stalker Lees Road off Ecclesall Road and Sharrow, with animated avatars and an LED screen.

Although Forgotten Spaces was originally all about ideas, the organisers are wanting to explore the possibility of making some of the entries a reality:

We want to start a city-wide dialogue about how these ideas could be turned into real-life projects. If anyone has any suggestions about to move these projects on and get them to contact Gerry Togher on It would be great to think we can get a kind of forum going where people can come together to discuss some potentially really exciting projects.

So if you have any thoughts about how this could happen, or are simply inspired by the project and are keen to see how the ideas could become a reality, get in touch with Gerry.

Fitzalen square’s faded glory

Another of Sheffield’s forgotten spaces

On Monday, the winners of Forgotten spaces will be announced. We’ll get to see the results of the competition which asked architects, designers and artists to come up with new uses for Sheffield’s forgotten spaces.

It will be interesting to see whether any of the entries looked at what could be made of Fitzalan square, which surely is one of Sheffield’s most prominent, under-used and forgotten public spaces.

The old post office building, Fitzalan square

The old post office building, Fitzalan square

Walking through a couple of months ago, I was struck by how good the square would have once looked. It gets plenty of sunshine and the trees offer a nice bit of shade, as well as some greenery to contrast with to the buildings.

I don’t know that much about architecture, but look closely and you’ll see just how impressive these buildings are. I don’t think Sheffield has anywhere near as much Victorian architecture compared to many cities of a similar size, but in Fitzalan square you’ll find the magnificent old post office dominating the south side. This grand old grade-II* structure has stood empty since 1999 and sadly been left to fall into disrepair.

Fitzalan square

Fitzalan square

On the west of the square there is another attractive building, towering five stories high with balconies on the windows and five beautiful arches on the ground level which are currently operating as retail units.

Adjacent to this on corner of the square and High street is the square’s most famous building. Now a motorcycle accessories store, the Marples building used to be a seven storey hotel but was completely reduced to rubble by bombing during in the war. The building you see there now was constructed in the 1950s.

The Marples name lives on in the square by means a small fast food hut. A statue of King Edward VII stands in the middle of the square, which was cleaned up and illuminated in as part of a facelift in 2003.

King Edward VII statue, Fitzalan square

King Edward VII statue, Fitzalan square

Despite the impressive buildings and the statue centerpiece, Fitzalan square doesn’t currently feel a enticing place to hang out. I took these photos over a lunchtime when there was just a single office worker enjoying his dinner there.

The roads around the edge of the square leave you feeling a bit isolated and hum of running engines in the taxi rank on the west side doesn’t make it particularly relaxing. Some of the businesses on the square – an amusement arcade and betting shops – also don’t really add much charm.

The good news is that that there are signs of recovery. The old post office building has been bought* and will be repaired and restored to a basic level before a further development is announced. Apparently it won’t be a hotel or flats.

Marples food hut, Fitzalan square

Marples food hut, Fitzalan square

This may be the lease of life that the square needs and a catalyst for some positive further development. I think the centre of the square could be remodelled, some of the roads pedestrianised and if they manage to attract the right businesses – some decent shops, perhaps a nice pub, cafe or restaurant trading on the Marples name and with outside tables – it could give people a reason to visit.

I’m not sure to what extent the recession has affected this bit of the Sheffield city centre master plan, but the original idea was to develop the route between Victoria quays and the High street, open up what’s left of Sheffield castle and landscape a park around the remains. If this is ever happens, it will at the very least be a huge benefit to Fitzalan square. Hopefully the planners will include it as a key part of their overall vision.

For now, the next step is the plans for the old post office building, which we should find out about in early 2012.

*ignore the main picture on this article, for some reason the Star has chosen to show a picture of a separate University of Sheffield development

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Castle market in Sheffield will not be listed

Does this pave the way for excavated Sheffield castle ruins and park? Or just Leeds-style crap office blocks?

This morning it was announced that the Minister for tourism and heritage has decided not to list Castle market building.

This news means that in theory the major stumbling block to the Castlegate part of the 2008 city centre masterplan has been removed.

The masterplan outlined a vision for the excavation of Sheffield castle ruins, which are under the present market building, and the creation of a park in the vicinity. This would be an important part of of the regeneration of the Castlegate and Victoria quays area.

The debate about whether or not it should be listed has gone on for a few months now. Some people see the old markets as a eyesore in an already run down area and would be glad to see it gone.

Others see the 1960s building as an example of what makes Sheffield different to other northern cities. They argue that it is a unique place where working class people come to shop that has been neglected over the years, which should be kept in the heart of the city.

On the radio tonight a councillor said that archaeologists would be given time to investigate the ruins of the castle to see what can be made of them. But in a recession is it possible that the masterplan proposals would never be realised anyway?

The author of the blog posts linked to above, Owen Hatherley, has said in reaction to the announcement that the remains of the market are dull and that ‘there will be no park, just a wasteland that will eventually be filled, in the extremely unlikely event the economy picks up, with Leeds-style crap office blocks.’

What do you think? Should we demolish the market building now it will not be listed and hope that the masterplan comes to fruition? Or does it have a social value and architectural merit that we need to retain?

Sheaf valley park open air theatre

An outdoor amphitheatre for Sheffield

It seems that work has started on Sheaf valley park on the hill behind the station.

Possible plans for the park include the design below, which shows an amphitheatre carved out of the hillside.

The project will be completed in phases as and when the money becomes available. The good news is that it seems the amphitheatre is included in the first phase:

Earth will be moved to form a level space for events, with a series of seating terraces above where people can enjoy views of Sheffield city centre and beyond

I really like the idea of an outdoor performance area and seating that looks back across the city skyline. It could look spectacular on a summer evening with the sun setting over the hills opposite and provide a perfect backdrop for live theatre or musical performances…just as long as the trains aren’t too noisy.

Sheaf valley park

Sheaf valley park - image from

Castle market and Sheffield castle

The regeneration and preservation of Sheffield’s past

A debate is rumbling about whether or not Castle market should be listed.

Giving it listed status would mean that it would be much harder to press ahead with some elements of the Sheffield city centre master plan, notably the idea to open up the ruins of the old castle, which are located under the current 1960s market building.

The arguments are discussed in this post on the Bleeding heart show blog:

There’s no doubt that if the decision is made purely on aesthetic or historical grounds, the council would have their demolition day. But when you consider the decision on social grounds, things get somewhat murkier.

The full post is well worth a read.

A tale of two castles post on Bleeding heart show blog

Castle market by daskine on Flickr

Castle market by daskine on Flickr, used under the Creative commons licence

Regeneration song

Film about Sheffield’s Stag works

To quote the YouTube blurb from Sort of films:

Sheffield’s Stag works is a decaying, crumbling curiosity with a fascinating place in the city’s cultural and industrial heritage. As the old workshops and artisans give way to new music studios and artists, the building bears witness to a tapestry of innovation, passion and imagination.

A metaphor for the modern city?

Photo of the Crucible in 1970 and 2010

Completing the city of Sheffield walkabout photo tour

A couple of years ago I took a set of photos that compared 1970s Sheffield with how it looked in 2008. The original photos were taken from a 1970s council publication, which was produced to promote the city.

I didn’t bother including the Crucible as it was a building site surrounded by fences. However, with the renovation project complete, I decided to go back to take a photo for comparison with the 1970s Crucible.

The two Crucible photos are at the bottom of this post, although it is perhaps better to view a complete slideshow of the updated 1970s/2000s gallery:

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Crucible theatre, 1970

Crucible theatre, 1970

Crucible theatre, 2010

Crucible theatre, 2010

The broken Sheffield station clock

Frozen in time

It may not be one of the main clocks at Sheffield station but the most prominent clock for people coming in and out of the entrance has been stuck on 12 for ages now which doesn’t look great for people visiting the city.

You’d think it wouldn’t be a big job to fix. East midlands trains look after the station, so I asked them what was happening with it. This is what they said:

I can confirm that local groups are looking for alternative locations/uses for the clock/and associated street furniture, you have mentioned. With the refurbishment of the station, that took place recently, and the introduction of a new system of Customer Information Screens (CIS), the previous clock system became obsolescent and is no longer used.

If there were some sort of digital display linked up to train times as part of the information post then this would be an understandable response, but it looks like a normal clock, which when I last checked hadn’t become, erm, obsolescent and would serve a useful function if it were to tell the time correctly.

Does anyone know which local groups are involved with deciding a use for the clock?

No doubt EMT have other priorities taking up their time at the moment like their so-far-unsuccessful fight to install station barriers and plans to ban the public from parking at the station in order to ease the access problems.

But for now, is it too much to ask to wire the clock up to the mains or get some new batteries?

Sheffield station clock

Correct twice a day: a clock at Sheffield station

The return of Gatecrasher

A new home for the Sheffield superclub

In case you missed it yesterday, the world-famous Sheffield nightclub Gatecrasher is set to return to the city this September in a new home.

Gatecrasher has submitted £5m plans to turn the basement of the cheesegrater car park on Charles street into a 2,000 capacity venue. The proposals can be viewed on the Sheffield city council website.

They are urging people to get behind the application via their website and a Facebook fan page and event.

The previous Gatecrasher (nee Republic) venue on Arundel street burnt down in June 2007.

The distinctive cheesegrater building seems to be a generally well-received addition to the city skyline and I think this makes it a relatively good choice of location. Presumably having a night club located in the basement will help minimise any excess sound escaping and affecting city centre residents.

If the new Gatecrasher does get approved and built then it also won’t do any harm to Sheffield’s City of culture 2013 bid.

What do you think, has it been missed? Is there any reason why we wouldn’t want to see the return of Gatecrasher to Sheffield in this location?

Disco inferno by suburbandk

The Gatecrasher fire of June 2007 - Disco inferno by suburbandk, used under Creative commons license