Sheffield’s Cultural Industries Quarter is under redevelopment. unLTD’s Harry Hamling looks at the city’s hottest new area

A name like the Steel City often gives off negative connotations of being old and outdated, but in recent years Sheffield has managed to thoroughly reinvent itself as a modern place to work and live

Areas of the city, such as Kelham Island, are almost unrecognisable from times past, and the next part of Sheffield to receive this redevelopment is the Cultural Industries Quarter (CIQ).

Looking in from the outside, the CIQ perhaps looks a little dated and run-down. However, it is also full of potential. Located between the city centre and the train station, the CIQ is in a prime location for a bustling modern-day community housing the majority of Sheffield’s cultural businesses. The council estimates there are now more than 300 companies in the CIQ and most of them are connected to creative or cultural industries, such as film-making, music production, software design, broadcasting, new media, architecture, art and traditional crafts.

The redevelopment of the area around Hallam University has already begun, and businesses such as Tamper café, Fusion Organic café and the Great Escape game are already reaping the benefits. It can be argued that the reason that the redevelopment of this area has been so successful is solely down to the high population of students, and how busy and thriving it is. 

A high amount of people living, studying and working in one area facilitates the need for these types of businesses, like pubs, coffee shops and restaurants. This is something that is being replicated further towards the city centre near Alsop Fields, as there is various student accommodation there, and by developing the area it would not only create a thriving community atmosphere, but would also create a thriving atmosphere for local businesses.

This can be seen in action already in the development of Alsop Fields, located within the CIQ. The first £10 million phase of developments here has seen the creation of apartments and studio flats, places to eat and drink and several high-tech offices. Alsop Fields is part of a new wave of optimism that the CIQ can do its bit to enhance Sheffield’s reputation as a buzzing, lively and attractive place to live and work.

City Estates director Dale Fixter said: “The whole area used to be known as Alsop Fields, so we decided to use the name for this new mixed-use development.

“It is designed to be a destination in itself — a regeneration of part of the CIQ that will be like the trendy parts of Manchester and London.”

The first development seen here was the refurbishment of Speedwell Works in Sidney Street. What was once an old factory on the edge of the city centre, now provides top quality rented accommodation for young professionals and students in stylish new apartments and studios.

The new lease of life for Speedwell Works has been generated by sensitively renovating three storeys of former industrial premises around a central courtyard that is due to feature a café and two other commercial units next to the River Porter.

Andrea Marsden, head of residential at City Estates, said: “Speedwell Works offers boutique-style apartments and studios with a character in keeping with the surrounding vibrant quarter.

“It is luxury furnished accommodation in an excellent location at an extremely competitive price that is ideal for young professionals and students.”

Once the Samuel Warren Speedwell Steel Works, the development is one of four buildings that will comprise Alsop Fields, a mix of new buildings and refurbished old factories being transformed by Elmsdale Estates (part of City Estates) and taking its name from an area around Sidney Street in the 18th century.

The old Albert Works has already become home to leading marketing agency Jaywing, and Speedwell Works will be joined later this year by offices forming No. 77 @ Alsop Fields and Niche Buildings @ Alsop Fields. The whole development is scheduled to be finished by the end of November this year.

Dale also said: “Instead of just student accommodation, we are creating an attractive mix of apartments and studios, places to eat and drink and offices for the high tech and creative sectors.

“Jaywing are bringing their staff to the area, which will immediately add life to the area.

“All the amenities are nearby, and Sellers Wheel, with its hugely popular café, Tamper, has shown there is the demand for this type of development.” 

City Estates already has previous experience with the CIQ, with their involvement in the development of the Gatecrasher Apartment complex. The site, located on the corner of Arundel Street and Matilda Street in Sheffield city centre, has been transformed into a brand-new student complex on the site of the famous former Gatecrasher nightclub.

The £11 million apartment complex provides 243 beds, mostly in clusters of three, four and five beds and are all en-suite.

Agents CPP and BNP Paribas are instructed to market the commercial units within Alsop Fields. Rob Darrington, Partner at agents CPP said: “We expect a strong demand for this location, being within a couple of minutes walking distance of the city centre, Sheffield Hallam University and the railway station.”

Guy Cooke, Director at BNP Paribas added: “We believe it could offer ideal accommodation not only for restaurants and bars and conventional shops and offices, but also potential occupiers such as doctors, dentists and opticians, which the area does not have at present, serving the thriving, immediate community.”

The CIQ Bucket List

Our five landmarks to visit in the CIQ:

The Leadmill

Just two minutes from Sheffield train station, the Leadmill is a creative hub of all things culture, hosting live music, club nights, theatre, comedy, sport and film screenings.

Showroom Cinema

The Showroom has grown to become one of the most significant independent cinema venues in the world. Housed in a converted 1930’s car showroom, the cinema aims to provide a distinctive and excitable experience.

Tamper Coffee

Bringing the best of New Zealand’s café culture to Sheffield, Tamper at Sellers Wheel delivers cracking Kiwi recipies. Plus late opening on Friday means one thing — after work cocktails.

The Site Gallery

Currently undergoing expansion, The Site Gallery is Sheffield’s leading contemporary art space, hosting numerous exhibitions and opportunities for young people to get involved in creating art of their own.

Sentinel Brewing

A bar/restaurant with its own in-house brewery, offering a wide selection of artisan beers served hand-pulled, from a tap or in a growler to take away.