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HTA calls for 'lateral thinking' in fight to save Park Hill flats

JL Womersley's Park Hill flats in Sheffield should be 'twinned' with Newcastle's Byker Wall to draw attention to their dire state, say architects fighting to save the Grade II*-listed flats.

HTA Architects has finished an appraisal and says drastic action is needed, including a five-year repair bill of tens of millions of pounds.

But HTA project director Mike De'Ath said because 'post-war listed iconic buildings don't fit in the grant regime', lateral thinking was called for to lever in funding including private money.

'The flats could be twinned with the [Ralph Erskine-designed] Byker Wall, also Grade II*-listed, because both sit well on the world stage and would draw much needed attention, ' he said.

HTA came up with five options, one of which was doing nothing. In that scenario, the building could become unlettable in five years, said De'Ath.

The council could carry out basic structural refurbishment, but this would fail to tackle social problems. HTA also suggested that 'enhanced refurbishment' to the windows, bathrooms and security features would cost around £25 million.

Another option was a range of limited demolition to free up land for redevelopment - but this does not come without problems. 'If you demolish a block, you have to replace it with something fantastic and developers aren't beating the door down to put a keynote building here. The buildings also shield the rest of the estate from harsh winds.'

Architects also considered asking English Heritage to champion Park Hill, 'because it can't compete with the likes of Stonehenge for funding'.

De'Ath believed it would take around five years before major refurbishment could take place.

'You need a different approach to management and letting. Sheffield should advertise and market the lettings rather than act as their gatekeeper.'

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