An exciting new future has been developed for Leah’s Yard, the former 19th Century masters works and one of Sheffield’s most important heritage buildings. Following an extensive bidding process, Sheffield City Council and its Strategic Development Partner, Queensberry, selected an impressive bid from SSPCo. The team behind the successful bid plan to transform the building, which sits within the Heart of the City development programme, into a new destination for experiential retail and socialising, workshops and creative spaces for Sheffield’s thriving independent business scene.
Tom Wolfenden, CEO of Sheffield Science Park Company (SSPCo), which manages the Cooper Buildings on Arundel Street, and James O’Hara of the Rockingham Group, have realised a longstanding ambition to combine their extensive complementary experience on a new project. Once fully refurbished, the revitalised Leah’s Yard will celebrate the building’s rich industrial heritage by featuring a collection of high-quality local traders within ground floor studios, with everything from furniture and clothes to artisan foods and ales, with unique spaces on upper floors to accommodate the best of Sheffield’s small businesses. In addition to the creative spaces and shopfronts, the venue will host regular public-facing events, maker markets and themed evenings appealing to a diverse range of audiences.
Andrew Davison, Project Director at Queensberry, said:
“Interest in Leah’s Yard was strong and competitive with several bids received. However, the vision and partnering attitude from SSPCo, along with their proven track record within Sheffield, ultimately gave them the edge above all other proposals. We are very excited to be working with Tom and James over the next couple of years and seeing this truly iconic development opportunity come together.”
Tom Wolfenden, CEO of SSPCo, commented:
“Sheffield is home to so many extremely talented people who develop incredible products, but they rarely reside in the City Centre. Our vision for Leah’s Yard is to bring all that together in one place and provide these businesses with a literal shop window and an affordable route into the city centre. We will create a genuine independent community here, and as part of the Leah’s Yard package, tenants will have access to business support and advice from our creative and experienced professional team as well.”
While Tom plans to focus on creating a sustainable business community, James’ vision is to make Leah’s Yard a destination for the people of Sheffield and visitors alike. The aim is to get a wide range of interesting and complementary retailers showcasing the best Sheffield has to offer. Preliminary structural and roof work on the Grade II* Listed building, which sits within the Heart of the City masterplan alongside the approved Cambridge Street Collective, has been underway since September and will bring the derelict building back into a safe condition. Following these essential works, a £3.5 million refurbishment is anticipated to get underway later this year, with the professional team behind the project keen to see the space open to the public by Christmas 2022.
Councillor Mazher Iqbal, Cabinet Member for Business and Investment at Sheffield City Council, added:
“We are attempting to retain a lot of attractive heritage across Heart of the City, while also ensuring we create new spaces that are usable and sustainable to the local economy. Leah’s Yard has a great story within our city and bringing it back to its former glory will bring an entirely new and exciting dynamic to our city centre.”