Ideology at Park Hill

January 28th, 2013 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by India Hobson


As I’ve lived in Sheffield all my life the brutalist structure of Park Hill has been what you see when you look out of the city with it’s yellowing concrete facade and chunky blocks fading into the hillside behind the train station. When I first took an interest in photography I went through the ‘urban environment’ phase and my Dad would take me up to the flats to gather images of cracked walls, graphic compositions and that all-too-familiar ‘gentlemen’ lettering on blue tiles.

As a photographer I’ve become even more familiar with Park Hill in the last few years; it’s been used as a backdrop for so many points in popular culture such as The Arctic Monkey’s ‘When the Sun Goes Down’ video, it inspired ‘The I Love You Bridge’ lyrics by The Crookes and of course held photoshoot after photoshoot - including a few of my own.

Now when you look across to the East from the city centre it appears as though it’s on fire - a colourful gradient from red to yellow rises from the ground, punctuated by a stunning spiral of shiny polished steel and if you get a little closer the graffiti is brought to life in neon lights.  I shoot primarily on location, and as soon as I saw the bare concrete walls and natural textures that sit next to them I knew I’d have to take advantage. Max at Ideology (Devonshire Street) wanted something simple & strong with a subtle link to Sheffield in there - we knew we’d be using creatives that are based here & we wanted to push that a little further.


Altogether we photographed 24 looks (that’s a lot in one day!) using an empty show flat as our main backdrop and used entirely natural light. The light in a room is the first thing I look for/notice because I think it makes so much difference to how you experience a place - obviously in a living space the more natural light you have the better and Park Hill is full of it. Inside you feel a sense of rawness and that you’re a part of something bigger, but with a comfortability that allows a sense of ownership & means you can make your mark too.

The view is quite possibly the best bit; you look over the best city in the world with a whole load of sky above it and pick out the other key Sheffield landmarks and feel absolutely at home.


India Hobson is a photographic artist based in Sheffield - find out more about her work at and

Filed under: Park Hill, Sheffield, Urban Splash No comments

Park Hill: rebirth of unloved brutalist estate

January 10th, 2013 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Tom Bloxham MBE


Park Hill: rebirth of unloved brutalist estate highlights 50 years of change
Eight-year renovation aiming at broad social mix transforms despised flats in Sheffield

We were recently featured in The Guardian newspaper who wrote an article about our transformation of Park Hill - Europe’s largest listed building. You can read some highlights from the article below, or read the full piece on The Guardian website.

A pioneering and initially popular post-war development famed for its “streets in the sky” network of wide, sloping walkways, Park Hill charted a common trajectory for such estates: optimism giving way to dilapidation, social decline and then notoriety. For most the end point was demolition. Park Hill was saved because its innovative design gained a Grade II* listing in 1997.

Renovation was handed to a private developer, Urban Splash. Now… the first few dozen occupants of the renovated blocks are about to move in.

The event itself, a week or so into the new year, will involve little fuss, simply a few households moving into refurbished flats. But the symbolism is momentous: a rebirth for one of Britain’s most infamous housing estates and a half-century of turbulent social history coming full circle.

Peter Walker
The Guardian, Sunday 30 December 2012

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2012: A round up of the year

December 19th, 2012 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Tom Bloxham MBE

Another year of hard work has come to an end… Here’s a run through of some of the things we’ve been upto this year!


Lakeshore, our first Bristol scheme, is now home to residents. The Grade II listed Cor-Ten structure has been refurbished into design-led apartment available to buy and rent. With strong sustainable credentials, the scheme recently won a What House? Award for Sustainable Development.


Human, an exciting Sheffield-based creative agency, has become the first commercial tenants to sign up for space at Park Hill. They’ll open their new office there in the new year.


This year Royal William Yard came into its own; River Cottage, the Royal William Bakery, Seco Lounge and Le Vignoble are already open, with Las Iguanas, Wagamama, Bistrot Pierre and more signed up ready to open next year. With the monthly Good Food Market - another new addition for 2012 - the Yard has become Plymouth’s newest gourmet hotspot.


Winner of this year’s best conversion Northern Design Award, Saxton is a real success story and now home to hundreds of people who benefit from the location near Leeds city centre life, as well as the onsite allotment and gym!


We’re pretty proud of our trophy cabinet which was bolstered this year with 16 more awards!


It’s been a great year for new joint venture schemes including; Springfield Lane in Salford, Bewsey Old Hall in Warrington and Anston House in Brighton, watch this space for more details!


With the first tenants moving into Pattern House, we have now completed our Stalybridge scheme. With 100 apartments, Longlands also offers exciting commercial space right in the heart of Stalybridge, just a few minutes on the train from central Manchester.


The British Council of Offices Award judges decided that no one could ‘tame the Birmingham Beast‘, praising our transformation of a neglected monolith into a thriving commercial hub. They gave a special mention to our ability to emphasise the building’s industrial past.


Our flexible approach as a landlord, with short form leases, monthly licenses and a great rapport with tenants, has helped us grow the commercial portfolio even more this year; with 90% of our 2 million sq ft of office, retail, leisure and light industrial space now let.


Yep, among our 16 awards in 2012 were FOUR coveted Sunday Times British Homes Awards including a commendation for the Best Developer Award! Three other awards went to Lakeshore, Saxton and Park Hill.


We’ve transferred the success of the commercial portfolio to the residential side of the business too. 95% of homes are let and this year we grew it to more than 700 homes.


One of the most notable successes of the commercial portfolio is Fort Dunlop which is now 96% let and home to a great mix of tenants including Trinity Mirror and Elmfield.

Here’s looking forward to another great year!

Filed under: Affordable homes, Birmingham, Bristol, Chips, Fort Dunlop, Lakeshore, Leeds, Longlands, Manchester, Mills Bakery, New Islington, Park Hill, Plymouth, Royal William Yard, Saxton, Sheffield, Stalybridge, Tom Bloxham MBE, Urban Splash No comments

Following our success at the What House Awards last week (at which we won FOUR awards!) the magazine has run this article about us and the work we’ve done in 2012 as well as a look back at some of the schemes we’ve completed in recent years.

The article – a copy of which is below – celebrates our “innovative approach” to development stating: “the developer has continued to take risks with cutting edge, affordable, residential property during a time when it’s easier to play it safe. Even more daring, they’ve done it without the safe zone of London…. Urban Splash developments in and around Manchester make a bold statement.

You can also read the article on the What House website.


After scooping two golds, a silver and a bronze at the What House? Awards 2012, Urban Splash are in celebratory mood. For those who have been following the developer it comes as no surprise that their innovative approach has been recognised - the developer has continued to take risks with cutting edge, affordable, residential property during a time when it’s easier to play it safe. Even more daring, they’ve done it without the safe zone of London.

Urban Splash developments in and around Manchester make a bold statement. Longlands in Stalybridge, Greater Manchester, won a joint Silver What House? Award for the best apartment scheme. It offers homes nestled between the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and the banks of the River Thame, which are just a 13 minute train journey to Manchester city centre.


The development has two buildings that make up Longlands: Pattern House and The Mill. Pattern House is a new build that offers 59 one- and two- bedroom duplex apartment homes. Each of these homes have balconies which fit together and have been compared to the 1980’s video game Tetris. This is enhanced on the outside of the building by colourful panels that outline each apartment.

The Mill has been refurbished into 44 loft apartments, bringing this Grade II Listed cotton mill back to life. The Mill is contemporary but the beams, pillars and brickwork that are the bones of the building are still exposed.

Shared ownership is available at this development and prices start at £50,000 for a 50% share. One-bedroom properties start at £99,000 and two-bedroom properties start at £132,000.

In Manchester city centre the developments are no less bold. Chips in the popular area of New Islington overlooks canals on three sides. Designed by Will Alsop, many of the apartments have folding internal doors allowing you to be flexible with the space and each of them have outside space in the form of the roof terrace or, in some cases, private balconies.

Chips is only a short walk into Manchester city centre with Piccadilly train station about a 10-15 minute walk away. A new tram stop opposite Chips is planned as part of the Metrolink’s expansion.


Properties at Chips can be secured from as little as £89,600 with an 80% share and are available with FirstBuy. There are currently one-bedroom and two-bedroom properties available from £114,000.

With only one property currently available, 3 Towers has been a popular development on the edge of Manchester’s city centre. It’s not really a surprise when you consider the development’s floor to ceiling windows which provide views across the city.

The name comes from the development’s three residential towers which have been named after the Pankhurst family; Emmeline, Christabel and Sylvia. Ground floor apartments benefit from private gardens while secure car parking is also available. The towers are just a ten minute walk from Manchester’s Northern Quarter and all the bars, restaurants and shops that the city has to offer.


Redesigned by architects Union North, the towers were already standing and have been reclad. Inside, each apartment is modern and open plan. There are currently no homes to buy outright but there is a one-bedroom apartment available for £55,000, a 50% share, as part of their shared ownership scheme.

Filed under: 3 Towers, Affordable homes, Chips, Longlands, Manchester, New Islington, Stalybridge, Tom Bloxham MBE, Urban Splash No comments

New Islington running to plan

November 13th, 2012 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Tom Bloxham MBE


This week I enjoyed a morning run over to New Islington. I love running by the canals (even though I’m not very good at it) and its a great the path along the River Irwell; from the Lowry, via the Mark Addy all the way down to Salford Quays is now open (just) through the Irwell River Park.

It was my run through New Islington which I enjoyed the most, especially seeing the Marina which was full, with almost 30 houseboats moored, full of people living on them.

Ben, our local park keeper and guardian of New Islington was busy keeping the place tidy. The boardwalk connecting New Islington tram stop (which we’re told will open before the end of the year) and the Ancoats Urban Village was open, and the site for the New Islington School was being surveyed.

The Guts houses by mae had been completed and I saw the site where new housing is going to be built next year.

It really is an amazing transformation from the Old Cardroom estate before we started…






Filed under: New Islington, Tom Bloxham MBE, Urban Splash No comments


Oliver Scott, Artistic Director of Mercurial Dance talks about his experiences filming on location at Fort Dunlop with 84 young male dancers.

I am on my way north on the M6. Passing Urban Splash’s Fort Dunlop gives me a smile and a deep sense of satisfaction. I had the privilege to use this iconic building as a location for the Boys Dancing and spent a fantastically intense three days filming as a part of an inspiring project for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

Flash back
I am on the ground floor looking up the central light well at FORT DUNLOP. I have 84 young men, over all six floors. Each lad is standing looking over a balcony, helium filled football in hand. It is the end of a long first day. We have just 5 minutes and once chance to get the shot before lads leave. My script says simply ‘Uplifting ending’.

Strength, courage, agility and speed: ‘Standing by’ I shout, ‘3 2 1 ACTION’.

The balloons float gracefully upwards bouncing off each other and I get a wink and thumbs up from my film maker.

I think it was this point that we decided to call our film FORT.

The creative process for making a film with such a large number of young men, many who have never danced before brings its challenges and inspirations. It is a process that too aims to engage and push the experience of what dance is and what it can do for the boys in the project. With the theme of the Quiet Man as a link for a suite of six films, our Quiet Man takes a stand against isolation, being different and the crowd.

For FORT I wanted to find a location that embodied aspiration, had a creative and professional feel that could convey a character’s status, help him stand out from the crowd. I also was looking for a place that could give me a great roof-top shot for my narrative. I was also conscious that the Boys Dancing project is about young men living in the West Midlands and a film to be screened on the London 2012 BBC LiveSites Screens. I wanted something recognisably from their area that the lads could look up to.

A tall order when dreaming up scripts and locations to find on zero budget! One I pondered on my journey up the M6… hmm. The former Dunlop Factory looks good and is that a balcony?

The Urban Splash team couldn’t have been more accommodating and helpful. From our first visit we realised that anything else we looked at would never match to the architecture look and feel of Fort Dunlop. Even the way the building was lit would allow us to keep an agile approach to our shooting and tie together a narrative around its architecture. We were even able to pick up on the orange colour scheme for the costumes and props. I couldn’t have wished for more!

A big thank-you to the Urban Splash Team and all who work at Fort Dunlop.

Fort - The Quiet Man Suite from Dom Breadmore on Vimeo.

About the West Midlands Boys Dancing Project.

The Quiet Man Suite is a series of six films made with nearly 1000 young men led by Being Frank Physical Theatre and Warwick Arts Centre.

Boys Dancing is a Dancing For The Games programme, part of the West Midlands’ Culture Programme for London 2012 funded by Legacy Trust UK, Arts Council England West Midlands and Advantage West Midlands Dancing For The Games uses the inspiration of the London 2012 Games to get as many people as possible dancing in the West Midlands.

Filed under: Birmingham, Fort Dunlop, Urban Splash 1 comment

1 comments to Strength, courage, agility and speed for the Quiet Man Suite

  1. Alyse says:

    Hello. splendid job. I did not anticipate this. This is a fantastic story. Thanks!

Urban Splash: A Great Manchester Brand

October 9th, 2012 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Tom Bloxham MBE

Greater Manchester Business Week - October 2012

I think that brands are increasingly importantly in life. When we choose our clothes, our cars, our computers, brands are pre-eminent in our thinking.

Primark, Prada or American Apparel; there’ a plethora of consumer brands, yet there are so few of them in housing.

We were obviously very pleased then that Urban Splash has been referred to in publications like the Cool Brands Guide and this week again when we were included in Business Week’s list of brands which ‘make Manchester Greater‘.

We were thrilled to be put alongside big names including Manchester United, The Co-Operative, Umbro and that other team from Manchester…

Filed under: Manchester, Tom Bloxham MBE, Urban Splash No comments

Following on from their recent brochure shoot at our iconic Sheffield development Park Hill,’s Marketing & Communications Manager Toni is guest blogging for us this week. Find out what she has to say about investing in design.


When I was asked to guest blog for Urban Splash I was very honoured. I’ve admired their work for lovingly nurturing derelict and neglected buildings and bringing them back to life for a long time now.

Being born and bred in Sheffield I have a personal affinity with the Park Hill development. In fact my grandfather (on my Dad’s side) worked on the original build as a bricky in one of the ‘top teams’ and my grandparents (on my mother’s side) opened their very first hair salon in the Park Hill development in the 50s - which reminds me I really must hunt down the pictures!

So, you can see my routes are deep in Sheffield’s heritage and ‘love it or hate it’ I have a keen interest in preserving Europe’s largest grade II listed building. Anyway – I digress. I’m here to discuss the benefits of great furniture design so here goes!

We all know that times are hard right now and it can be all too easy to choose the cheaper option but please take a moment to pause and think.

There are many copies out there and these cheaper alternatives are made from poor quality materials that are much weaker, poorly executed and of inferior quality.

Check out this video showing the strength and durability of a real versus a fake Series 7 Chair – shocking isn’t it?

You may think you’ve found a bargain but it will be short lived. If you have a passion for design and you want to keep the item to pass down for generations to come, a copy is definitely not for you.

Authorised versions of design classics such as the Eames Lounge Chair are made by highly trained, dedicated craftsmen with the highest quality materials and will last a lifetime not just a few seasons. So, if you want to invest in design it may well be worth saving for.

Which leads me back to Park Hill…

You too can now invest in history and design and buy at Park Hill with the brand new shared ownership scheme. So, when your ready to take the plunge and that next big step to home ownership - remember to pause before buying your furniture and lighting and ask yourself ‘will it last?’.

Oh and by the way, if you’ve not guessed already… I love Park Hill!

Filed under: Affordable homes, Park Hill, Sheffield, Urban Splash No comments

Return to Lakeshore

September 4th, 2012 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by James Howard

Welcome back to Lakeshore

With the first residents now comfortably moved into their new Lakeshore apartments and more to follow, we thought it would be a great time to host an exciting and nostalgic event for the ex-employees of the original Wills Tobacco Factory.

The event will be held on the evening of Thursday 13th September and will be a fantastic chance for old employees to re-visit happy memories of their time working for HD and HO Wills, meet old colleagues and see how the building has been redeveloped since the 1970’s. The invitations for the tour, via the Imperial Pensioners Gazette, resulted in an overwhelming response from those eager to get involved, exchange stories and re-live the history of Lakeshore.

We have already received a number of brilliant stories and photographs from previous employees about their time working in the factory. Many actually met their partners there and one ex worker in particular wrote in about meeting Princess Margaret at the site and how an episode of Dr Who was filmed in the factory!

Ex workers have watched the development with interest, especially those that still live in the Hartcliffe area and wish to see the re-vamp of their old work place and meet old friends. Reading their stories in anticipation of the event has built a picture of Lakeshore’s history and we hope the event can recreate the great community spirit of the Wills Imperial Tobacco Factory workers.

Date: Thursday 13th September
Time: 5.30pm for 6pm tour start
Details: If you are a former or current employee of Imperial Tobacco and would like to attend, please email, quoting ‘Imperial Factory’ along with your name and the full names of any guests.

Tours and events for members of the public regularly take place at Lakeshore, and other Urban Splash schemes across the country. To find out what’s coming up, visit our Events & Tours page.

Filed under: Bristol, Lakeshore, Urban Splash No comments

From plot to plate at Saxton, Leeds

August 16th, 2012 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Rachel Maren

Saxton's Allotment Pop Up Restaurant

With all the excitement of the Olympics you might have missed the news that last week was National Allotment Week – running from 6th – 12th August it is a week of celebrations throughout the UK to highlight the allotment movement and raise the awareness of growing your own food.

What you also might not know is that here at Urban Splash we have not one but two sets of allotments – at our development Saxton in Leeds and also at Lakeshore in Bristol, with 193 plots between them we are for the first time offering our residents
a chance to “Grow their Own”.

So to celebrate allotment week and the hard work of our allotment holding residents we turned our allotments at Saxton into
a Zero Food Miles pop up restaurant.

The tables were set, the sun was shining and our friends from Sam’s Chop House came down to use the alfresco kitchen we had provided. Over two sittings Lunch and Dinner (or dinner and tea as we call them here in Yorkshire) 20 of our residents were treated to a plate of finest Yorkshire fayre cooked in front of them using produce picked from within feet of them!

Saxton's Allotment Pop Up Restaurant

If you fancy trying the meal for yourself here’s the recipe:

Sam’s Chop House Roasted Rump of Lamb
Roasted rump of lamb served with crushed new potatoes, orange glazed carrots, mint & redcurrant sauce

Serves 2

2 x 7-8oz lamb rumps, trimmed
20g fresh thyme & rosemary
150g new potatoes
20g chives
150g Chantenay carrots
100g butter
200ml fresh orange juice
200ml gravy
1tbsp red currant jelly
20g fresh mint

Season the lamb rumps with salt & pepper, and seal on all sides in a hot pan. Roughly chop the thyme & rosemary, add to the pan with the lamb rumps & roast in a 200ºC oven for 9-10 minutes. Leave to rest for 5 minutes before carving

Boil the new potatoes in salted water until just cooked, then mix with 25g of butter & chopped herbs & crush with a fork. Season well with salt & pepper. Put the carrots in a pan with the remaining butter & orange juice, cover with a piece of greaseproof paper & cook over a high heat until all the liquid has been absorbed & the carrots are soft & glazed.


Mix the redcurrant jelly & chopped mint with the gravy & heat gently.

To serve

Press the crushed potatoes into a ring, carve the lamb rump & serve with the carrots & sauce.

Rob Higgins, head chef at Sam’s Chop House said: ”Having allotments for residents is a great idea and something I’ve not seen before. As a chef and somebody who is passionate about organic produce, this would definitely appeal to me if I was looking to buy a place in the city centre. Cooking with food grown at home gives you a sense of pride and it’s often more flavoursome.”

If you live at Saxton or Lakeshore and are interested in taking an allotment contact Rachel Maren at Still not sure? Check out Facebook for more pictures of the event and pictures of what our residents have been growing.

Filed under: Lakeshore, Leeds, Saxton, Urban Splash No comments