It may no longer be Sheffield’s best kept secret but the rise of Kelham Island shows no sign of slowing down.
From abandoned warehouses to warm homes, building company Citu has nearly completed their transformation of the old, run down Kelham Island area in Sheffield, transforming it into a vibrant, buzzing area full of all the character it already possessed, but presented in a new way.
The once steel industry focused ‘island’ is unrecognisable to past eyes. The new development site of Little Kelham is built on a site once occupied by two factories, Eagle Works and Green Lane works. These old factory buildings and warehouses have now been restored and repurposed, for commercial, office, retail and creative space. This alongside an influx of trendy low-carbon residential apartments should also help breath some life into these historic old structures.
Even during this period of rapid transition, the Kelham Island museum is still holding its place in the skyline, offering new residents a chance to learn the history of the town. The museum offers residents, new and old, a chance to learn about the city’s industrial history, which was nowhere more prevalent than in Kelham Island. This can be seen in the surrounding buildings, such as the Globe Works and Cornish Place. These have been restored to past glory by Citu, and are still keeping their place in Kelham Island, despite the transitions surrounding them.
The development of Little Kelham is being run by Leeds-based building company Citu, who started work on the site in 2013. Citu’s goal is to change the perspective of Kelham Island to the public. To get them away from being an industrial out of date town, into a vibrant 21st century one. One way of achieving this is by focusing their homes on being low carbon, and blending these modern, energy efficient buildings with the existing architecture. The Citu houses in Little Kelham are also digitally-enabled, allowing residents to control and monitor energy usage from a smartphone or tablet.
One area in Kelham Island that this transformation can be seen most is at The Milestone, a gastro pub in the local area. Originally opened as a paint shop in the 1940’s, The Milestone was taken over by Matt Bigland and Miles Gould and transformed into a modern gastro pub, after previously not being open for over 20 years.
The Milestone Operations Manager, Stacey Sherwood, spoke of their relationship with Citu: “We worked closely with them. We think it’s a really good addition to Kelham Island, it’s brought in a lot of new people to the demographic.
“The developer has been very good in returning the heritage of Kelham Island, with it being one of the original 11 industrial quarters of Sheffield and with keeping with the style of the buildings and the original names on the side of the buildings.
“Some of the old streetlights have still been kept. It is not like any other area of the city. It is unique.”
This sense of uniqueness hits close to home for residents of Kelham Island, and is important to residents that their uniqueness is not lost with the new developments.
Managing Director of Citu Chris Thompson has recognised this, and is not wanting to lose anything from Kelham Island: “Little Kelham is the biggest development in Kelham Island, which is fast becoming one of the most exciting urban neighbourhoods in the north.
The area oozed character but lacked investment, but the last few years have seen the tide changing and people are really beginning to take notice of Kelham Island and everything that is good about it.
“The response to Little Kelham has been overwhelming, but not particularly surprising. More people are aware of their impact on the environment and want to do their bit to reduce their emissions. We’re building high density homes on brownfield sites, but we’re using clever design to maximise space.”
Citu as a company has always aimed to tackle climate change through developing new and innovative designs that help create a ripple effect in the industry, leading to a more widespread adoption of sustainable methodologies. By building these new eco-friendly homes in a former industrial area such as Kelham Island, Citu are showing their commitment to trying to help change the Sheffield area and its effect on the environment.
Unlike developments found in other cities, this one is not focused on students and first time buyers. Citu are creating a community in Little Kelham, and their houses are appealing to all types of buyer, especially ones looking for that community environment. The area is affluent with schools, cafes, pubs and parks, and is the perfect place for not just individuals, but families as well.
This idea of community can be seen in the Kelham Island Community Alliance (KICA), an organisation founded in 2000 by residents of the Kelham Island community. The group was formed to promote public benefit, conserve, protect and improve the environment, prevent criminal acts and promote social inclusion. This public sense of inclusion is something that is seen across all of Sheffield, but it is that sense of community that Citu is hoping to retain and grow with the development of Little Kelham.
This concentrated aim to change how the people of Sheffield and the rest of the UK perceive Kelham Island has started paying dividends already, even before all the building works are complete. Well-known sales and letting agency Redbrik have already opened a new sales and letting office in the Krynkl development in Kelham Island.
Director Peter Lee said: “We were delighted to open our fifth sales and lettings office in such a fantastic location within the city.
The area has provided us with a fun and vibrant place to work and is very much in line with the Redbrik brand and ethos.
“We are passionate about city and town centre living and Kelham Island is a real property hot spot right now with lots of new exciting developments and city centre living opportunities. The development of existing buildings, which architecturally are beautiful, gives people the opportunity to buy or rent homes with real character.”