Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions about the new Social Sciences building.

  1. Where will the building be?

    The building will be at the junction of Northumberland and Whitham Roads, on the site of an existing football pitch.

  2. How big will the building be?

    The new building will be four storeys high at the front and three storeys high at the back, with a total area of 16,500 square meters.

  3. Which departments will be in the new building?

    Sociological Studies, the Faculty of Social Sciences office, Sheffield Methods Institute, the Social Research Institute, the School of Education and the Information School. There will also be space for Management School growth.

  4. Will there be any teaching space in the new building?

    The new building will house a variety of teaching spaces in terms of their style and capacity, with large collaborative lecture theatres of different sizes, and a variety of smaller seminar rooms. Also included will be two computer rooms, and the suite of Journalism specialist teaching spaces.

  5. Is there any provision for study spaces in the new building?

    The building will provide around 500 study spaces of varying styles with two silent study spaces. Students will also be encouraged and be able to use teaching spaces as study space when the spaces are not being used for teaching.

  6. What will happen to the other sports pitch on this site, and will there be a replacement pitch for that which is being lost?

    The new Social Sciences building is linked to improvements at the University’s Norton sports centre. Two new high quality pitches – a 3G hockey pitch and a 3G rugby/football pitch – are now open along with changing and shower facilities. The existing hockey pitch at Whitham Road will become a 3G football pitch and the cricket nets will be improved and brought back into use. Overall, sports provision will be both increased and significantly improved.

    Click here for information on the Norton Sports Centre development.

  7. Will the new building be environmentally friendly?

    The building has been designed with sustainability at its heart and is aspiring to get a BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) outstanding rating.

    Working with a sustainability consultant as part of the design team has allowed us to model in detail the anticipated performance of the building. Current models show a significant reduction on current Building Regulations requirements for carbon emissions and energy demand. This has been achieved through passive features, such as a high performance thermal envelope and use of the atrium space for heating and cooling, and also through the specification and integration of efficient mechanical and electrical systems.

    In addition to the Social Sciences building, the University are exploring options for a wider energy network to serve this area. Options being considered will provide low carbon technologies from which the University will be able to draw its heat and power.

  8. How will the new development contribute positively to biodiversity in the area?

    The Social Science scheme’s landscape design aims to positively contribute to the biodiversity in the area. Introduction of a range of new habitats and improving the quality of existing soft landscape are two of the many ways in which the landscape proposals aim to build on and improve local biodiversity and distinctness of the area. Removal of dominant, out of character and poor biodiversity tree species, such as the large Leylandii hedge on Whitham Road, is a fundamental part of the design. This will make room for an enhanced public spaces and improved planting and tree planting opportunities.

  9. What contribution will the development make to greening the environment?

    The layout of the scheme has been designed to maximise pedestrian use and activity. ‘Pocket parks’ both to the rear and front of the development connect the development to its surroundings and create active facades. The main public space off Whitham Road forms an urban plaza for socialising, seating and enhanced ornamental planting whilst forming an attractive approach into the development. These ‘pocket parks’ will become an inviting place to stay and relax whilst providing a sense of character. The selection of materials will be in line with the University's Campus Masterplan, creating a cohesive scheme.

  10. Will there be cycle parking at the new building?

    To promote sustainable modes of transport, the site will have a cycle hub and cycle parking for approximately 200 cycles. As part of the development, there will be internal, secure storage and changing facilities for staff and students.

  11. Surely the new building will result in many more pedestrians and traffic coming into the area?

    The site’s location will see a significant shift in student numbers to this area of the campus. This will actually reduce foot traffic down Whitham Road/Western Bank and create safer walking/cycling routes in to the city centre.

  12. Will there be many new car parking spaces as part of the development – and will this too result in increased traffic around the area?

    In line with the University’s sustainable transport policy, the emphasis will be on encouraging people to walk or cycle, or take public transport when visiting the new Social Sciences building. A very small number of visitor parking spaces have been included in the design, along with disabled parking bays and charging points for electric cars. All other car drivers will be encouraged to use the multi-storey car park at Durham Road.

  13. What is happening to the bus stop on Whitham Road

    The bus stop is being permanently moved slightly further up Whitham Road towards Broomhill. This is to ensure better access to the site.

  14. Will the building be open to the public?

    Much of the building will be open to the public, including the ground floor café. There will also be a pocket park at the front of the building which will create welcome green space for all. The new park will help improve air quality on a busy road and provide a new social space to serve both the local and University community as well as providing a pleasant outlook and amenity space for users of the adjacent Weston Park Hospital.

  15. How will this new modern building fit within the character of the local area?

    The building continues Sheffield’s development pattern of large buildings punctuating the tree and skyline. Northumberland Road has a strong and attractive character, predominated by the continuous stone walls to the back of pavement and the backdrop of trees and vegetation. The new development retains the stone wall to Northumberland Road as much as possible, creating openings for access at key points. The stone wall, railings and plaque to Whitham Road will also be retained, again with small openings made to create safe entrances to the site for pedestrians. The ground floor level of the building is higher than Northumberland Road, reflecting the historic height of the Godfrey Dam, which is also seen as a significant characteristic of the area.

  16. One of the walls at the Whitham Road entrance to the site has been removed - I thought these walls and railings were staying as part of the new building?

    Yes, they will be retained within the new development. We have had to remove one of the walls temporarily to allow access for large machinery, but this will be re-instated once the work is done.

  17. How is the current COVID-19 pandemic affecting work on site?

    The outbreak has meant that BAM have been restricted to what work they can do on site. The workers continue to follow goverment guidelines.

    This worldwide pandemic has caused issues with the supply chain so there are problems with some materials arriving on site late.

  18. Is there a problem with the land the building is being constructed on?

    The site includes the former Godfrey Dam embankment and backfill within the former reservoir. These create challenging ground conditions, which is why four separate phases of ground investigation have been carried out to inspect the nature of the fill materials and to confirm that the underlying rock is suitable for piled foundations [piled foundations are long structures, in this case concrete, bored into the ground to reach to buried rock for foundation support].

    The investigations have confirmed that there is no problem with the land in terms of installing a suitable foundation, as there is a suitable layer of rock underlying the site.

  19. Why are you deconstructing the building?

    BAM identified that there was settlement occurring in excess of that which would normally be expected in a structure of this nature, prompting us to conduct detailed investigations. These confirm a problem involving the piling of the structure, which are unusually complicated.

    BAM have concluded that the safest solution to the piling issue is to deconstruct the entire building before reconstructing the structure on new piled foundations.

  20. Will the building look different than initially planned after this work?

    No, there will be no change to the building design.

  21. How will this delay affect students, staff and departments?

    This delay will not affect students’ studies. We will be able to accommodate our students in the current facilities on campus until the new building is open.

  22. Will you be keeping the temporary teaching facility on the Northumberland Road car park?

    Due to these unexpected delays, we will be asking Sheffield City Council to extend planning permission for our temporary modular facility on our Northumberland Road car park for a further three years.

    This was not our original intention for this temporary facility but it is essential that we can continue to provide high-quality teaching whilst the new building is still under construction.

  23. Whose fault it this?

    This is a Contractor design and construction error for which the University is not responsible. 

  24. Why didn’t you detect it sooner?

    BAM have advised that they acted as soon as they identified that more settlement than planned was occurring.

  25. How much settlement was/is there?

    The design allowed for up to 25mm settlement at a pile location. This has been exceeded in multiple locations. Hence the need for a significant intervention.

  26. What has caused it?

    There has been an error at the design stage. As a consequence, some piles have been installed shorter than is required.

  27. Will re-piling be the same as the original piling – is it where you put the piles or how deep they went?

    The new piling will be coordinated to miss the redundant foundations and adjusted to remove the original design stage error.

  28. Why are you using the same team that caused the problem? Are you blaming them?

    The design and construction remains the responsibility of the Contractor. The University have appointed an independent team to review the Contractors redesign and re-installation. 

  29. What will this cost? Who is paying for the additional costs?

    There are obviously financial implications and responsibility is being assessed. This is a Contractor error and the University is not responsible for additional costs.

  30. How much of it are you demolishing?

    The whole building is being demolished.

  31. Are you commencing legal action against MM or Skanska?

    This is a matter for the Contractor and its designers and Subcontractors to discuss and agree. The University will rely on its existing contract.

  32. How long is the delay to the scheme finishing?

    Approximately 18 months (original completion was expected June 2021).

  33. Will this mean a lot of dust and noise for neighbours?

    There will inevitably be some dust and noise as a result of the dismantling activities but BAM advise that they will use every endeavour to keep this to a minimum for those around the site.

    When breaking the foundations, BAM will use acoustic enclosures to help reduce noise. They are dampening down the site to cut down on dust and monitoring dust and noise to ensure they operate within approved limits set out in the planning conditions.

    BAM are using the quietest breakers available which are not being used before 8:30am or after 5pm.

  34. Will you be working late nights and weekends?

    BAM may have to work extended hours if an urgent or safety issue were to arise or in the event of a concrete pour running over. They are not planning to work extended hours and do not intend to undertake dismantling works on Saturdays

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