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Hawkins\Brown risks wrath in bid to redevelop Park Hill Estate

Hawkins\Brown is set to undertake the renovation and redevelopment of the Park Hill Estate in Sheffield, one of the UK's most important Modernist projects, the AJ can reveal.

The young London-based practice is part of an Urban Splash-led development consortium aiming to turn the Grade II*-listed Brutalist housing estate into an example of 'contemporary inner-city living'.

However, observers have warned that the scheme will have to be extremely sensitive if it is to avert an almost inevitable backlash from conservationists, who are likely to object to virtually any change.

It is understood that at least two conservation groups will be 'watching' the proposed designs, which are expected to be unveiled to the Sheffield public next summer.

If the Hawkins\Brown project does win the go-ahead, it will create a 'mixed-use sustainable development' that will include owner-occupied housing, social-rented properties and business and community space. And Sheffield City Council has already thrown its weight behind the proposals, a move that is sure to frustrate the heritage lobby.

Council leader Jan Wilson said: 'We really liked Urban Splash's innovative approach, including its ideas for working with the community to retain the best aspects of Park Hill. We believe that it gives us the best chance of making the project work and we will now spend the next four months working with it on the details of the proposal.' And Wilson added that she believes the early stages of consultation have gone well. 'I am pleased that Urban Splash has impressed tenants and existing residents enough to secure their support for the proposals, ' she added.

The Park Hill Estate - which is Britain's biggest Grade II*-listed building - was completed in 1966 by Sheffield City Council's department of architecture and is considered one of the finest examples of Brutalist architecture in the UK.

It is also unusual because it is widely accepted that the project works as an example of where a community has successfully developed in a postwar housing project.

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