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Grey to Green Sheffield (phase 1)

Grey to Green Sheffield (phase 1)



An innovative inner-city renewal scheme transforming 1.6 kilometres of road space into a linear green route for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport.


Sheffield City Council proposed the work in 2013.

Construction of phase 1 started in 2014 and concluded in spring 2016.

Consultation on phase 2 ran from March – May 2018

Work on phase 2 began in May 2019 and is ongoing (completion due Spring 2020).


West Bar (for Phase 1) and Castlegate (Phase 2), Sheffield

What problem does it address?

A now-redundant unattractive dual carriageways and complex junctions dominated this part of the city. The place was physically cut off from the rest of the city.

A poor physical environment kept people and investment away. There were, no places for people to sit or enjoy the area. The area underperformed in economic terms compared to the rest of the City Centre.

The area also flooded in 2007.

How did it do it?

A Green Infrastructure approach delivered many benefits. A Sustainable urban Drainage System (SuDS) was at the heart of this project.

Consultation events sought the views of local businesses and residents. The project team also had regular engagement with the local Riverside Business Association.

Sheffield University’s Department of Landscape Architecture played a critical role in designing the rain gardens, bioswales and planting. Students contributed to this real-life project. Structural planting styles have helped to set the character and establish the identity of the area.

Five large pieces of art act created new landmarks and connected this place with its cultural and historic past.

Generous footways, cycle routes, planting, seating areas and gathering places have improved sustainable access and created a key link between the core of the city and emerging residential communities to the north.

The SuDS replaced hard surfaces with meadows, rain gardens and other vegetation. This acts as a natural ‘sponge’ avoiding the risk of surface level flooding. Climate change will make extreme rainfall events more likely. This scheme is addressing surface water flooding, before it becomes a problem. The scheme is reconnecting the highway surface to its natural catchment, the River Don. Soils and plants are filtering out pollution before it reaches the river.

Who has benefitted and how?

Local residents and workers in the area enjoy a new green space in the centre of Sheffield.

Local residents and commuters benefit from reduced ambient temperatures in an area prone to urban overheating during summer months.

The project improved the area’s resilience to flooding.

Sheffield City Council has benefitted from good design principles reducing reduced maintenance costs.

What was the cost and how was it funded?

Phase 1: £3.4 million (£1m ERDF £2.4m Sheffield City Region)

Phase 2: £5.8 million (European funding £800k, £3.3m, Sheffield City Region Local Growth Fund, Sheffield City Council £1,650,000, Canal & Rivers Trust £50,000)

Demonstration of job creation potential as well as environmental outputs during phase 1 helped release funding for phase 2.

Evidence of success

The Green Infrastructure and ‘whole place’ regeneration transformed the northern eastern edge of the City Centre.

It will improve the economic performance of the area. Phase 1 is anticipated to create 1,800 jobs. Phase 2 is expected to create a similar amount of jobs.

The improved character of the area has encouraged many to change routes, pass through or dwell within the spaces. University of Sheffield research showed that up to 20%of people have changed their route to work to go through the Grey to Green corridor. The project is helping to build on the city’s Health & Welling targets by encouraging exercise and relaxation.

Further sustainability benefits include:

  • carbon capture and long-term storage

  • improved air quality

  • cycle lanes

  • increased urban biodiversity

The scheme received the 2016 Yorkshire Rose Environmental Quality Award, a CEEQUAL Outstanding Achievements Award and a Green Apple Award.

The Grey to Green project is the UK’s largest retrofit SuDS scheme. It will inform and inspire future schemes elsewhere.


Congestion and diversions arose during the construction phase. The project team informed individual businesses of key dates to minimise the negative impact on businesses. Good communication with stakeholders and occupiers was paramount.

Very high voltage cables in the ground required design changes during the construction of the scheme. Reasonable contingency measures helped overcome this challenge

Contact person

Lucia Lorente-Arnau;; +44 114 2736673

Website and links to relevant resources

Grey to Green website

Designed Ecology at Sheffield University Department of Landscape Architecture

Project partners and contractors 

Sheffield City Council – Urban and Environmental Design team and City Regeneration

The University of Sheffield – Department of Landscape Architecture

Amey – Highways design

Robert Bray Associates – SUDS advice and flow Modelling

McCloy Consulting (SuDS design)

Storm Water Ltd (SuDS liners)

North Midland Construction – main contractor

Ashlea – soft works contractor

Green Estate – Substrate supply and Planting Management

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