Castlegate is where Sheffield history starts, with the meeting of the Rivers Sheaf and Don at the ‘Sheaf Field’, the Norman castle, the city’s first bridge crossing, markets and later the first purpose-built Town Hall and Courts.
Despite serious wartime bomb damage the area retains significant historic importance including Lady’s Bridge, the Old Town Hall and Courts and the remains of the castle buried in the foundations of the former Castle Market site.
Whilst the centre of retail and local government has gradually shifted away during the 20th century, Castlegate continues to perform an important, if changing role in the city centre.
This includes a number of large and smaller retailers, a significant number of professional and office employers, the largest concentration of city centre hotels, Snig Hill police station and Magistrates Courts.
The future of the Castlegate Quarter
Castlegate is beginning to take on a new role as a place where new forms of employment, leisure and living can be tried out and developed.
Since 2013, the 'Rediscovery of Castlegate' project has caught the wider public’s imagination and has become one of the central ‘place-making’ initiatives in the City Centre Master Plan, and a major opportunity for innovation and collaboration with community organisations, the city’s 2 universities and businesses.
The clearance of the old Castle Markets and the removal of through traffic from the former inner ring road (Exchange Street/Castlegate/Blonk Street) together with changes in retail occupancy has created new space and opportunities.
The long-standing ambition of reconnecting the city centre with its waterways – the Canal Basin, Rivers Don and Sheaf is now achievable.
A Castlegate Partnership including the Friends of the Old Town Hall and of Sheffield Castle, the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University, the Culture Consortium, local hoteliers and traders as well as ourselves has been formed to promote a collaborative and innovative approach to regenerating the area.
Several key place-making interventions are proposed including:
- Archaeological and structural investigation of the Castle Market site, aimed at creating a new green space on the Castle site and defining potential small development sites.
- Removing the structurally unsound River Sheaf culvert which runs under part of the site and the creation of a new riverside pocket park to be known as Sheaf Field. Funding bids to progress this project are expected to be determined in June 2016.
- Reclaiming areas of redundant former ring road for public space, sustainable drainage and other uses with improved connection to Victoria Quays through the next phase of the Grey 2 Green Corridor Restoration.
- New uses for the historic Old Town Hall.
- Completion of the office and mixed use development on Broad Street. West/Exchange Street known as The Square.
- Imaginative new uses for other buildings such as the listed Castle House Co-op Department Store, other vacant shops and the former multi-storey stables on the riverside.