Park Hill is undoubtedly an icon of Sheffield, soaring above the city atop one of its many hills. Now well underway in a mammoth regeneration and rebirth with developers Urban Splash and Places for People at the helm, unLTD’s Matt Holmes speaks to Nicky Harries, Park Hill’s senior commercial lettings manager, about the past, present and future of life in Europe’s largest listed building
We begin with Nicky giving us a brief background on the commercial history of Park Hill. When it opened in 1961, there were grocery shops, a school, a doctor’s surgery and four pubs. One of which, The Scottish Queen, keeps its name but has been an exhibition space and art studios for S1 Artspace but is now due to be a new retail outlet. Another space in Phase 3, the new student block called Beton House, is due to become a new convenience store named Park Hill Provisions, which we revealed in last month’s magazine.
Since Urban Splash came on the scene in 2007, phase 1 has been completed and comprises 260 homes and 17 contemporary commercial units, home to a mix of businesses in the creative and digital industries, filmmakers, designers, merchandising and recruitment. A brilliant feature is the Grace Owen Nursery, although now housed in a new purpose-built space, it has been part of Park Hill since 1963!
The eclectic combination of Urban Splash’s vision, architects Hawkins\Brown and urban designers Studio Egret West gained Park Hill a nomination in the coveted RIBA Stirling Prize in 2013. Phase 2 of the development sees Mikhail Riches as architects.
Phase 2 will see a further 20,000 sq ft of commercial space added to Park Hill. And it appears that locating somewhere with an established business community, but which is still developing itself is an attractive prospect as Urban Splash is delighted with the interest in the space despite current circumstances.
So, what is it about occupying a commercial space at Park Hill that stands out from other developments?
“The location and being part of the wider community,” says Nicky. “The commercial spaces themselves at Park Hill are raw, concrete and beautifully quirky – completely open to imagination and design. A true blank canvas for our customers to really put their stamp on.”
The offering at Park Hill includes small and large self-contained shell spaces which businesses can buy or rent, meaning occupiers of all sizes can invest in their future.
Not to mention, of course, that this is an Urban Splash development, and as Nicky says: “We are very much a hands-on landlord and look to exceed in the service our customers receive from the day of their first enquiry right through to the day they move out, which we hope they never do!”
Urban Splash commercial tenants can expect active encouragement in putting on an events diary throughout the year – current restrictions permitting – enabling both commercial and residential members of the Park Hill community to meet and be neighbourly, which is a rarity these days.
In this edition of unLTD we are looking ahead to the ‘Sheffield City Region of the Future’ – so, as a key iconic development in the city, we wanted to know how Park Hill fits into and enhances that vision. Nicky identified the three key areas of the SCR Renewal Action Plan, which aims to make the economy and society of the city region ‘stronger, greener and fairer’.
As she notes, Park Hill has attracted “developing businesses that reflect the creativity, technological and entrepreneurial spirit of Sheffield. The location of the development means that you can do business easily anywhere in the UK with close proximity to Sheffield Station and a direct train link to London in two hours.
“The location and history also attract clients to the city, as Park Hill becomes a business hub contributing to the economic status of the region and adds value to the region’s knowledge economy, too.”
Regarding how Park Hill fits in with the environmental aspect, its heat source is from Sheffield’s District Energy Network, which produces heat by burning the city’s refuse. Being at the centre of the city, it is also directly impacted by the plans to transform transport in the city centre.
Commitment to being fairer is demonstrated by complete openness that any business is welcome at Park Hill.
“It was always intended to provide homes of mixed tenure and our current residents reflect the multi-cultural mix in Sheffield,” says Nicky. “Our commercial space allows for a similar mix with flexible units.”
And what of the future of the commercial market from an Urban Splash perspective?
Nicky is hugely optimistic for Park Hill’s commercial space and overall portfolio.
“Business owners and members of staff have been given the chance to evaluate the way they work, the space they need and the way in which they offer their services.
“Park Hill has such a fantastic community that’s constantly growing, and I have every confidence it will evolve into something quite spectacular…watch this space!”
For more information on commercial property available at Park Hill, visit website www.urbansplash.co.uk/commercial or get in touch with Nicky Harries at firstname.lastname@example.org.