Sheffield’s green artery is something to celebrate


Source:  Dani Cole

Sheffield’s ‘green street’ shows that community can flourish when it’s given the space to breathe, says Emily Booth

Sheffield – creative, vibrant, energetic, sporting two thriving universities – is also emblematic of the challenges facing many other cities across the UK in 2022.

The struggles of the high street – what to do when a key retailer moves on, how to plan for a sustainable future, bounce back from Covid, prioritise community – are familiar themes which Sheffield has been tackling with varying degrees of success, but also with a unique verve. Sheffield is the perfect focus for our city special.

Towering over it all, of course, is the iconic Park Hill, whose architectural journey has been documented over many years in these pages. The latest phase of this ultimate retrofit project is skilfully appraised by architecture editor Rob Wilson. Mikhail Riches’ ‘subdued and subtle’ work resonates particularly well with our times.


Celebrating its ‘outdoor city’ status, Sheffield is rightly proud of its public spaces. Grey to Green stands out as the largest retrofit sustainable draining system (SuDS) scheme in the UK.

Which is remarkable enough – but the project is so much more than that. The 1.6km ‘green street’ is a welcoming, meandering public space, bright with planting and people, where the city’s car-choked inner ring road used to be. The scheme has opened up possibilities for community and investment, reconnecting the ancient Castlegate area with the rest of the city centre. It has totally transformed an unloved and neglected piece of the city.

There is something particularly pleasing about a scheme which is successfully multipurpose and looks good, too. Teams of town planners from the USA, The Netherlands, Sweden, Japan and South Korea have all also visited Grey to Green in recent years to find out more. Closer to home, similar schemes are being explored throughout the UK.

It’s no surprise that Sheffield residents actively seek it out – diverting their walks to go through it, taking the kids down there at the weekend. It hosts an inner-city flower market, ‘a monthly celebration of all things botanical’. There are ample benches on which to sit and watch the world go by.

Sheffield understands that community doesn’t tend to thrive when it’s disjointed and dissected by major roads or is priced out of its home. How wonderful that community can flourish when it’s given the space to breathe.


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