Art to enhance Sheffield’s open spaces

Steve Birch, Development Manager at Sheffield Housing Company (left) and Andrew Skelton Public Art Officer with Sheffield City Council.

An innovative arts programme is set to make its mark in Sheffield, encouraging people to enjoy the superb outdoor spaces the city offers.

Funded by Sheffield Housing Company (SHC) – a joint venture between Sheffield City Council, private developer Keepmoat Homes and Great Places Housing – the initiative will help transform green open space adjacent to SHC’s Cutler’s View, Bluestones and East Hill Gardens housing developments in the Norfolk Park area.

Andrew Skelton, Public Art Officer with Sheffield City Council, said: “The aim of this public arts programme is to engage the local community and further encourage people to make the most of the outdoor public space, the natural environment and the connecting routes, walk ways and cycle paths it offers.

“These green routes and their connections for exercise, recreation and travel to work, have made us all aware of the physical and health benefits of being outdoors. Through this scheme we hope people will be able to further discover and appreciate the beauty and diversity of their city.”

A dozen artists were asked to submit their ideas for the £28,000 project and the selected bidder will be announced soon.

Steve Birch, Development Manager at SHC, said: “This is an exciting project to be part of. Over the past decade we have delivered nearly 300 homes to the area, with another 35 set to start construction before the end of the year. The neighbourhood has proved popular due to its location and setting, with Norfolk Heritage Park and the city centre close by.

“We are confident that this public art programme will capture the imagination of the community and deliver something that reflects the culture, aspiration and nature of the area as well as complementing its setting.”

Over the coming weeks, SHC and the nominated artist will begin liaising with residents and the community in accordance with current Covid restrictions and via social media platforms.

Councillor Mary Lea, Sheffield’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure, said: “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Sheffield Housing Company to deliver this project and the significant funding demonstrates our joint commitment to improving public spaces and our communities.

“Our beautiful parks are already loved throughout the city, as places to relax, exercise and have fun. This art programme will celebrate the fusion of Sheffield’s natural and creative elements, making our green spaces even more unique and attractive and bringing culture and diversity into our communities. I can’t wait to see the installations take shape.”

It is anticipated that the art will be completed by the spring time next year.

Sigma Capital Group plc has homes available for private rent under its Simple Life brand at both Norfolk Park and East Hill Gardens.

Victoria Hurcomb, head of marketing at Sigma, said: “We were delighted back in 2016 to receive a piece of public art by local artist Steve Roche and installed by energy and regeneration specialists ENGIE at the entrance to our Park Grange House development in Norfolk Park. It features intricate carvings of deer to mark Norfolk Park’s history as a game reserve. We look forward to seeing further creativity and development of the city’s open spaces as part of this initiative for the benefit of the community.”

Since its formation, SHC has completed almost 1,000 homes across the city, around 80% of which have been sold to first time buyers and families. It has created 75 apprenticeships, over 800 jobs and spent more than £80 million with local supply businesses.

Over £50,000 has been pledged to public art and community initiatives; £20,000 has been spent supporting local schools and backing for open pathways to work for students, while university links provide graduates with work experience. There has been sponsorship for, or attendance at, dozens of community events.

A further 1,400 homes are planned by SHC over the next five years – making up to 2,300 two to six bedroomed properties in total, on 23 sites across the city. This will create further economic stimulation, job creation and community investment for Sheffield.