Giving new life to vacant spaces

The boiler building

Our Department of Town and Regional Planning (TRP) is helping to shape new policies for the re-use of vacant land and buildings as part of an exciting research project — and they’re leading its final conference in Sheffield to conclude the work.

The Stimulating Enterprising Environments for Development and Sustainability (SEEDS) project was created to address the lack of planning policies around temporary use of vacant urban space, and over the last three years it has sponsored a wide range of temporary use projects.

With funding from the European Regional Development Fund's (ERDF) Interreg IVB North Sea Region Programme, nine partner organisations from across Europe, including our University, explored the negative impact of vacant land and buildings on local communities and the economy.

The SEEDS conference will draw together insights from each SEED partner country on promoting and investing in temporary re-use.

TRP's research showed that public policy and legislation relating to land and property development in the UK and other SEEDS partner countries generally focuses on long-term land development objectives and does not usually account for temporary use.

The research recommended that temporary use is acknowledged in new land policies, and that planning around this should engage with local communities to encourage urban regeneration.

Our academics from TRP will be presenting their research findings at the SEEDS conference along with other experts, leading academics, and practitioners.

Professor John Henneberry led TRP's research, which looked at examples of temporary use from across Europe and North America, and how best practice can be transferred to other cities.

He said of the project: “SEEDS has brought together a fascinating mix of practitioners and academics with the shared purpose of establishing the wide socio-economic benefits accrued from, challenges faced by, and future of temporary use. Ultimately we would like to see our findings embedded within urban policy and practice.

“I’m thrilled that key figures working on temporary use in urban regeneration throughout Europe will be attending the final SEEDS Conference on 15 April and will sign a Charter that will mark the beginning of this process.”

As well as research, SEEDS partners have conducted pilot projects to explore best practice for temporary use.

Pilots being carried out by SEEDS partner countries include renovating the grounds of The Boiler Building in Copenhagen, and giving a new lease of life to a disused sugar factory in the Netherlands.

Our city is hosting four innovative temporary use pilots:

Living with nature

Living with nature: A three-year project to develop sites close to or within residential areas.

Porter brook

Porter Brook: This pilot aims to create a better habitat around the Porter Brook river, and encourage wildlife.

Furnace park

Furnace Park: A project to create a new park on the site of some waste ground in Shalesmoor.

Sheffield showcase

Sheffield Showcase: Three vacant sites in our city centre are being explored for new uses.