My guilty secret

I have lived in Sheffield for longer than I care to remember. It’s cheap, there are hills and when you look across the city in summer all you can see are trees. While I have walked passed it, even taken photos of it I have never really wandered round the Park Hill flats. Having gone to college just down the road from the North Peckham Estate in London I am no stranger to large council housing estates, but for some reason I have never wandered through Park Hill. Perhaps, for me, it was a road to nowhere. It didn’t act as a short cut for wherever I needed to be and I never knew anyone who lived there.

I knew Park Hill was going through a restoration project. Urban Splash having developed part of the site several years ago.  I was however unaware that the rest of the site is now entirely boarded up, the last residents moved to places unknown. Wandering around a large, not derelict, but abandoned housing complex is disconcerting. While all the flats are boarded up and the walkways in the sky are no longer accessible, its Grade two listing means that it is still in a reasonable state of repair. Nature taking its foothold where it can but ultimately the structure protected.

The silence, even on a bright spring morning is eerie. 1,000 flats boarded up. No life. The playgrounds and seating areas empty, the shops and nursery closed, the pub boarded up.

Travelling to bouts I often pass through areas in need of urban regeneration. Venues built to serve the local community are often out the city or town centre. No longer having a car, relying on public transport makes you see areas in a different light. Walking or taking a bus through these areas for the first time you are much more astute to the environment. Taking in the sights and sounds. It is a very different experience to driving, where you travel through areas but don’t really see them.

My guilty secret? While I have travelled and seen many areas in need of regeneration, I haven’t really explored the city I currently call home. From now on I will get out and see parts of Sheffield, for no better reason that to have a look around.


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