If you have visited Sheffield, you will have seen the large geometric, concrete structure that overlooks the city. Like many other people, at one time, I thought the flats were an eyesore. However, over time, I have come to love the concrete Brutalist building.
I have to admit that, I am guilty of stereotyping. I was once very critical of all the post-war social housing in Sheffield. The once successful developments, were known as the ‘ghettos’ of the city. They gained a reputation of being places full of drugs and crime.
Park Hill was accompanied by Norfolk Park, Hyde Park, Kelvin, Woodside, Broomhall and Upperthorpe. Some have been partially demolished, and some have now completely gone.
Park Hill was built on the site of former back-to-back slums that were demolished in the 1930s due to crime and poor sanitation. Design work began on Park Hill in 1953. The architects responsible were, Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith under the supervision of J. L. Womersley, Sheffield Council’s City Architect. The flats were built between 1957 and 1961. Park Hill was inspired by Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation housing estate in Marseille and were called ‘Streets in the Sky’ due to the wider than normal corridors.
The idea behind the developments were to solve the need for more social housing. After the war, much of England was in ruin. To try and deal with the damage, overcrowding and poverty, Sheffield Council developed these new high-rise housing developments to attempt to solve the social problems of the time.
The developments had shared services such as pubs, healthcare facilities and schools. At first, all the developments were successful. However, it was not long before Park Hill became similar to the slum that it replaced. It was a familiar picture across Sheffield. The social high-rises of the 1960s, were now the cities ghettos. The Kelvin Flats, were demolished in 1995 and the Broomhall Flats in the late 1980s.
Park Hill was given a Grade II listing in 1998, making it the largest listed building in Europe. If it had not received this listing, chances are that it would have been torn down and today, the Sheffield skyline would look somewhat different. Thankfully, Urban Splash in partnership with English Heritage took on the renovation project, which commenced in 2009. The flats are being turned into upmarket apartments, student accommodation, business units and social housing. Phase 1 is already complete and Phase 2 is due to be completed by 2022.
According to IMDB, Park Hill has being used as a filming location for the movies, ’71 (2014), The Earth Belongs to No One (2015), Lost in Transition (short) and Episode #1.3 of This Is England ’86 (2010).
Some of the apartments are on sale here.