The Management Committee of the Friends of Sheffield Castle wish to express their disappointment with the 20th Century Society move to retain the Castlegate tower office block, coming at such a late stage, only weeks before demolition is due to start on the Markets buildings, and after a failed attempt to list the building due its lack of architectural merit.
We recognise that everyone is quite rightly entitled to their views, and we also appreciate that the 20th Century Society are supportive of the Councils plans to create a park around remains of the Castle. However, retention of this building will severely impact on the site of the Castle, as it cuts well into the line of the moat where we would expect to find significant archaeology and, potentially, remains of the Castle walling.
Retention of the tower/office block significantly reduces the development options and opportunities for the site as a whole, and this will also affect the success of funding applications as well as the ability to attract investors once the public works are complete. It will dominate the site and thus create a hostage to fortune, in terms of investment and funding.
The main parts of the Castle which are currently exposed are Listed Grade II Monuments and as more of the castle remains are exposed during archaeological excavation and recording of the site, these too are likely to become scheduled. Retaining this brutalist tower will harm the setting of these would-be exposed schedulable remains and this contravenes the National Planning Policy Framework.
The Management Committee are strongly in favour of removal of the Castle Market buildings, including the tower, to allow for investment in what is arguably the City’s single-most important piece of heritage, and to provide the appropriate and complementary space to show-off and interpret these remains to the public.
As you may well know, we have over 220 members, thousands of hits on our website, and local history forums clearly show the passion of Sheffield folk in support of the Councils plans for the Castle remains. It was a blow that we failed with the HLF bid but we are determined to work with the Council to put forward new proposals to ensure this project succeeds for the City.
This is a once in a lifetime chance to undertake a project that this City can be proud, one that engages with the whole community and tells the story of Sheffield’s fantastic history. It’s our chance to create something unique and special for the City. To retain this building in one corner, I’m afraid, would simply detract from the whole idea.
Friends of Sheffield Castle