The project will hopefully include a rooftop public pocket park. Credit: AHMM

GALLERY | Urban Splash wins Cole Brothers race

The developer has been named as preferred bidder to transform the Sheffield landmark and former home of John Lewis in the city, closed in 2021.

Urban Splash is working with architect AHMM. Winning from a shortlist of six, its proposals for the listed building include the Barker’s Pool and Cambridge Street entrances being opened up to allow for outdoor dining areas.

See gallery below

The rest of the ground floor would be filled with retail units, with particular interest in independent businesses, and the lower ground floors would be used for leisure purposes. The upper floors would be workspace together with some rooftop offices.

It is proposed the existing car park structure would be maintained but with the 400-plus current spaces reduced to less than 100, solely for the use of the building’s tenants rather than the public.

Billed in illustrative images as Cole Store, the building would have public access to a pocket park at the top, as well as studio spaces and a gym on the upper levels. The former loading bay could be used as a workplace entrance and reception area.

The selection followed a marketing process led by CBRE. Sheffield City Council’s strategy and resources committee met on 28 June and agreed to proceed into detailed negotiations.

Urban Splash needs no introduction to Sheffield, being involved in the redevelopment of the Park Hill estate for close to 20 years.

Across the country the Tom Bloxham-led business owns more than 1m sq ft of commercial space.

Mark Latham, regeneration director at Urban Splash, said: “We are delighted to be entrusted with the redevelopment of the Cole Brothers building. We know how important this building is to so many Sheffielders and look forward to sharing and developing our ideas for its future together with the city.

“This scheme bears all of the hallmarks of an Urban Splash project; from Park Hill, to similar urban and civic listed buildings in cities all across England, our portfolio is filled with award-winning schemes that have been transformed through working with an original building, keeping the best of the old, while adding new design ideas and new life.

“We will adopt a similar approach in our plans for Cole Brothers – engaging with local people as we immerse ourselves in the heritage and emotional connections many have here. There’s a lot of hard work ahead, but we are excited to get started as we take on another Sheffield icon.”

From an initial 18 approaches, a shortlist of six was arrived at. The full list of proposals was revealed in a report ahead of this week’s committee meeting.

Reiterating points made in that report, officers Neil Jones and Tammy Whitaker told members at the meeting that the Splash plan was the best way forward partly as it was the highest financial offer received, with no council investment required. Unlike others, the developer does not want to tear down the linked car park, which should give the scheme a quicker turnaround time than rival bids.

Officers also feel the scheme will sit well with the neighbouring Heart of the City project. Jones said that Queensberry, SCC’s development partner on that scheme, was “excited” by the Splash bid’s complementary offer, adding that “the other proposals didn’t have the same ‘spark’ as this”.

Cllr Tom Hunt, leader of SCC, said: “Breathing new life into the Cole Brothers building is an important part of the ongoing regeneration of our city centre. It is fantastic to have taken this next step forward.

“Sheffield city centre is on the up. We are creating a city centre that is a great place to relax, shop, work, eat and drink. Urban Splash have put forward an exciting proposal to reimagine a much-loved building and I can’t wait to see it come back to life.

“We’re delighted to see high-quality developers showing significant interest in Sheffield and wanting to be part of our city’s future. This is an exciting time for Sheffield.”

Detailed negotiations will now begin between the council, which owns the building and is seeking a 250-year lease, and Urban Splash.

Click any image to launch gallery, Credit for all images: AHMM Architects

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Another unfinished project in Sheffield ? lets hope it igoes faster than The Hyde Park flats.

By don black

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