Sheffield Midland Station & Sheaf Valley Development Framework Feedback
The following is a copy of our feedback on the Sheffield Midland Station and Sheaf Valley Development Framework, produced by a consultant for Sheffield City Council.
Full details of the proposals can be found at:
Dear Sheffield City Council,
I am writing on behalf of the Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust which seeks to promote, protect and
improve the channel and banks of the urban River Sheaf and Porter Brook for the benefit of Sheffield’s citizens, wildlife, businesses and visitors (charitable status is pending).
The Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust has noted the recent publication on the Council’s website and in the press of a Master Plan by consultants Atkins for the above area as presented to the Council’s Cabinet.
The Trust warmly welcomes the intention to transform the Sheaf Valley around the railway station, better integrate train, tram, bus, walking and cycling facilities and to address issues of severance by rail and road across the valley which date back 150 years. However the vision hardly mentions a key element in the landscape setting which is the actual rivers Sheaf and Porter whose confluence is located at the very centre of the study area.
It is understood that the document has not formally been offered for public consultation at this time but as it is public and covers an area of the city, which is at the core of our purpose as a trust, we would wish to make the following observations as a positive contribution to the ongoing development of the vision.
We believe that the Sheaf Valley development presents many opportunities to enable people to
connect and have access to the rivers Porter and Sheaf, in particular around the confluence of the two rivers near the garden bridge, in the area around Ponds Forge and linking to proposed developments in Castle Gate which borders the Sheaf Street development.
Deculverting and renaturalising is possible at a number of points in this area, promoting climate
change resilience, by creating and enhancing new natural habitats for flora and fauna, improving flood risk management, and creating better access and opportunities for recreation.
At the end of this letter, I have attached a copy of the framework plan annotated with numbered
bubbles related to initial comments from Trust members as follows:-
1. Sheaf Gardens. This looks like a proposed linear park including the first section of the Sheaf Walk and the Environment Agency's screen, which is designed to prevent floating debris collecting in the culverts and potentially blocking them. How about a sustainable drainage park taking rainwater from the new Sheaf Gardens development and terracing down the high retaining wall supporting the existing traffic free path? This would allow for expanded flood capacity – at present surface water has no way of being drained by the river between Granville Square Screens and Sheaf St. This may provide
an opportunity for habitat improvement.
Also, one of the proposed buildings sits on top of the surface car park, to the South East of the Co-op funeral care home. The river goes under here and could be a candidate for daylighting. The only rail track here is for what we think is the train cleaning machinery. This section was not culverted at the same time as the rest of the station, so it may be easier to remove.
2. Network Rail have a small area of marshalling yards over the top of the Sheaf Culvert here and there are access shafts to the culvert. The sheet steel shaft covers could be replaced with grilles to allow more natural light down into one of the three culverts to increase biodiversity.
3. This section of 'Garden Bridge' is part of a cycle-footway cross-valley route and replaces the old wrought iron tank bridge...this crosses the Porter Brook / River Sheaf confluence. How about more culvert daylighting, interpretation, and what could be done with the old bridge?
4. The Porter Brook looks a bit trapped between two buildings here but must offer a great opportunity for naturalisation. We think there are opportunities facilitating better channel management of the exposed sections of the Porter and Sheaf which are at present largely inaccessible for this purpose. This is an opportunity to increase bio-diversity and fish passage – the crude concrete canalisation prevents natural plant growth, variations in habitat on both the Sheaf at Sheaf Gardens and the Porter between Shoreham St and the Station, whilst lack of light and weirs in the station culverts prevents fish migration upstream. We also think this should ensure a pedestrian connection along Cross
Turners Street to Granville Square as a link between the Sheaf Walk towards the Don which crosses the end of the Porter Brook.
5-7. The Sheaf culvert runs around the outside of Ponds Forge Swimming Pool and on to Broad St West. We believe that removing culverts which are either coming to the end of their life, are no longer required or will otherwise require repair should be considered – especially as part of the carriageway is going to removed. This could allow more opportunities for daylighting and linking the Sheaf Street 'pedestrian boulevard' to Grey to Green phase 2. Adjacent, at Broad Street West, there is a council owned development plot – we think a re-alignment of a footpath across the site with markers that the tunnels pass under here could be possible.
We also believe there are opportunities within the plan for celebrating Sheffield’s Pennine landscape at a key public gateway and to create attractive off-road walking and cycling routes.
For the next stage of feasibility work the Trust would therefore wish to see:
Investigation of river deculverting opportunities especially of the Sheaf in the proposed Grey to green corridor between Ponds Forge and Sheaf St
Incorporation of lightwells/drainage sinks into the reconfigured station track works (the Trust is already discussing a pilot project at Platform 5 directly with EMT and Network Rail)
Renaturalisation of the currently canalised Porter Brook between Shoreham St and the Station and
access for amenity and management (draft schemes already exist for this which have the support of the Environment Agency)
A wider corridor between buildings for the restored Porter Brook and careful detailing of the
proposed land bridge so that the river becomes a major natural landscape feature
Feasibility work on the proposed Sheaf Gardens green space to facilitate reprofiling of the left bank and creation of a more natural channel and bank as at Nursery St or Matilda St parks, thus enhancing the attractiveness of the adjoining development sites
We’d also like to reiterate that should the HS2 link to Sheffield be abandoned, many of the framework proposals could be included in new phases of Grey to Green from Park Square to Granville Square.