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Stephenson Bell wins unusual Pathfinder project

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Manchester-based Stephenson Bell has won the competition to design a rare Council-led residential scheme within one of Sheffield’s Housing Market Renewal programme regeneration zones (Pathfinder).

After two failed attempts to find a developer/architect team– including a proposal by London-based Fluid which was shelved when developer Barratts walked away (AJ 25.10.07) – the local council decided to commission its own architects for the plots in Shirecliffe, north of the city centre.

The victorious practice will now be asked to draw up plans for a variety of homes, ranging from two-bedroom bungalows to four-bedroom family houses, on 15 different pockets of land around an existing estate.

Sheffield City Council’s Miranda Plowden, the programme director for the North Sheffield Regeneration Team, said: ‘The outcome of two previous developer competitions for the site were not what we hoped for – in one case the developer withdrew; and there were no suitable submissions in the second.

‘So we decided to take this opportunity because we strongly believe in the site’s potential to deliver some excellent housing.'

She added: ‘This will be the first council-led residential site to be delivered in the immediate area through the Housing Market Renewal programme and is a very exciting project.’

Nick Moss, project architect from Stephenson Bell, believes the city council’s approach could become more popular as the credit crunch takes its toll.

He said: ‘The council is very much wanting our guidance because for them it is a new business.

‘But maybe it’s the way forward by cutting out the profit of the middle man in this difficult financial climate.’

A planning application is due for submission in the autumn.

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