Eyewitness Works was Capital&Centrics's first step into Sheffield. Credit: via Font Comms

TV exposure to boost C&C’s Sheffield advance

The co-founder of developer Capital&Centric is hopeful that its pair of Sheffield schemes can play a big part in the city’s drive to increase city living.

Speaking to Place Yorkshire ahead of the first episode of The Big Interiors Battle, filmed at Capital&Centric’s £25m redevelopment of Eyewitness Works, Adam Higgins said that he hopes both this scheme and the overhaul of the former Stones brewery could be catalysts in their respective parts of the city.

Higgins said: “Sheffield’s a big focus for us, it’s a city with huge potential. As a city it has strong competitors, but it’s so strong visually, and it’s a wonderful city to be in.”

Adam Higgins has form in Sheffield. Credit: via Font Comms

The developer, who along with Tim Heatley has overseen C&C’s growth into a firm that currently has five schemes worth £400m under construction, has form in the city.

Back in the mid-2000s, he led Ask Real Estate’s venture into Sheffield at Leopold Square, where the developer delivered a boutique hotel, 42 apartments and leisure in and around a complex of Victorian school buildings.

He told Place: “I remember a lot of people said it wouldn’t work, that ‘people don’t hang around Sheffield in the evenings after work’ but our reasoning was always that you needed to broaden choice and give people the chance to do that – and it’s always traded well.

“What Sheffield’s done particularly well this century is to get public realm right. The Peace Gardens still looks fantastic 15 years on, the Winter Gardens still look great, and the station area gives a fitting welcome other cities could learn from. St Paul’s Place works well. All that helps give Sheffield its own feel, and if you can get that right, then the rest can follow from there.

“Sheffield’s never followed the traditional corporate, institutional route, it’s always rowed its own canoe culturally and that’s something we like.”

Screen stars

The Big Interiors Battle begins an eight-episode run on Channel 4, going out in the heat of primetime, 8pm on Fridays.

Eight competitors, all interested amateurs rather than professionals, will compete, with the winner securing the prize of winning an apartment at Eyewitness Works. Prepare for backstories.

AJ Odudu will present The Big Interiors Battle. Credit: via Font Comms

AJ Odudu is hosting, with Dara Huang judging. For Capital&Centric, which featured heavily in 2020’s Manctopia series examining the rights and wrongs of Manchester development, it’s been a further opportunity to showcase a historic asset.

Obviously, Manctopia didn’t scar C&C. Why did the business seek the limelight once again? Higgins said: “I think probably a lot of developers are PR-shy, but we jumped at the opportunity – it’s good fun, a chance to celebrate good design, a chance to showcase our building – but it’s also a chance to showcase Sheffield. Too often, these shows end up in London, but the production company Remarkable were fully on board when we pushed for Sheffield, and it shows the city in a positive light.”

Eyewitness Works – and beyond

The courtyard spaces have been a priority, Higgins said. Credit: via Font Comms

With filming completed in 2022, work is now pushing on at the redevelopment of the former cutlery works near the Devonshire Quarter, with final completions expected in autumn this year on 97 apartments and townhouses.

The Milton Street project encompasses the redevelopment of Eyewitness and Ceylon Works buildings, plus a six-storey new-build on the site of the former Brunswick Hotel.

The project includes within it four courtyard areas. Higgins said: “There’s a lot of greenery and different types of space, We never want to over-fill spaces at our buildings, it’s about striking a balance and creating a place people really want to be.”

Eyewitness Works sits within what is tentatively coming together as Mesters Village, a 15-acre area that could house up to 2,500 homes – something that seems to tie in well with Sheffield’s stated aspiration of growing city centre living.

Beyond C&C’s holdings, the council has already greenlit an 860-capacity student accommodation scheme.

Mesters Village could emerge as a key neighbourhood for Sheffield. Credit: via Font Comms

Higgins said: “It’s really important that this is not just about homes, but community infrastructure: hopefully a school, cafes, various ground floor uses. It needs squares and a strategy for active travel, and hopefully what can come forward will give developers and landowners a loose framework to work within.

“With Eyewitness Works we want to set the bar high for the area from the start. It’s such an interesting part of the city, between The Moor and Devonshire Street, which is already really vibrant and full of character.”

Cannon Brewery

Up to 500 homes could be created at the site. Credit: via Font Comms

Across the city, C&C is taking on the long-abandoned former home of Stones bitter, derelict since closure in 1999, where it hopes to bring forward up to 500 homes in a scheme that could play a key role in encouraging more development in a part of the city that is home to the popular Cutlery Works foodhall.

The site occupies a 4.2-acre plot in Neepsend and was used as a brewery from 1868.

Higgins said: “It’s still early days, but the scope of what could be done here is epic – you stand in the middle of this great walled-off site, and it feels like an amphitheatre. There are some incredible old buildings we’ll be looking to keep, such as the water tower. We’re working on final designs, and will hopefully be lodging an application in the summer that can be a catalyst for the whole area.”

Something for everyone?

Capital&Centric received a lot of attention for its Crusader Works development in Manchester, which specifically targeted owner-occupiers in a city that has become, in the eyes of many observers, too slanted toward investment markets.

Sheffield’s a different proposition, said Higgins: “There’s been plenty of development in Sheffield, but the vast majority is in student accommodation. There’s not a huge amount of choice for graduates and other young people, or for older people who might want to move back in.

“I think we’re looking really at a mix of private buyers and rental products, meeting the whole market. Sheffield’s a great university city, and like other great university cities retaining graduates is important. Hopefully there’s something for everyone and we can help Sheffield in retaining and expanding on its vibrant atmosphere.”

Higgins described the Cannon site as “epic”. Credit: via Font Comms

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