A planning application to transform the historic Leah’s Yard on Cambridge Street, Sheffield into a creative hub for independent businesses has been submitted today.

Sheffield City Council has selected Tom Wolfenden, CEO of SSPCo, which manages the Cooper Buildings on Arundel Street, and James O’Hara of Rockingham Group, which runs bars such as Public and Picture House Social, to operate the venue. Realising a longstanding ambition to combine their extensive experience, the duo plan to breathe new life into the building by transforming it into a destination for local independent businesses and retailers.

Brining the building, which is listed on Historic England’s ‘Building at Risk’ register, back into a viable and sustainable use, has been a key priority for the Heart of the City team. With preliminary structural and roof work on the Grade II* Listed building nearly complete, the Council and Queensberry, along with architect FCB Studios, have now submitted a planning application for the main construction and fit-out work.

Andrew Davison, Project Director at Queensberry, said:

“We are working hard to retain attractive heritage across the Heart of the City development and Leah’s Yard is arguably the flagship building in that regard.”

Tom Wolfenden, CEO of SSPCo, added:

“Sheffield is full of extremely talented people who develop incredible products. The new Leah’s Yard will bring these people and small businesses together and provide them with a route into the city centre. With the plans now submitted, we are really keen to hear from the public and local businesses about what blend of retailers and ‘makers’ they would like to see and what type of events we should host there.”

If approved plans will see the buildings refurbished to their former glory. A bustling central public courtyard is planned and will be surrounded by small boutique shops, while the first and second floors will host around 20 independent working studios.

A stylish new-build structures will adjoin the southern side of the development and sit behind the retained 24-26 Cambridge Street frontage.

George Wilson, Associate at FCB Studios, said:

“By celebrating and working with the existing fabric of the listed building we plan to create a place that is distinctly ‘of Sheffield’ and unique in its character and setting. It will reflect the city’s bold ambitions and responds to the future of city centres as experience-led destinations.”

As part of Heart of the City, Leah’s Yard will sit alongside the upcoming Cambridge Street Collective and Bethel Chapel developments – both currently under construction – that will feature a contemporary food hall, cookery school, fine dining and live entertainment spaces. A planning application was also submitted for Pound’s Park earlier this month, which if approved, will deliver a world class pocket park located on the former fire station site between Rockingham Street, Wellington Street and Carver Street. This attractive green space will help add vibrancy, character and a place for respite within the city centre.

Councillor Terry Fox, Leader of Sheffield City Council, said:

“We are delighted to see the planning application for Leah’s Yard submitted. Complementing the neighbouring Cambridge Street Collective development, we are delivering something truly transformational in this area of the city centre. In addition to safeguarding the heritage and character of the buildings, the development also celebrates our renowned creativity and independent spirit. They will deliver a new social destination for eating, drinking, shopping and events.”

Artists impression of Leah’s Yard