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Sheffield Arts & Culture

Leah’s Yard: Social Enterprise Plans Submitted for Historic Site

Leah's Yard Heart of the City II Proposal Drawings
Leah's Yard Heart of the City II Proposal Drawings

Three Sheffield Social Enterprise organisations have teamed up to create plans to bring Cambridge Street’s historic Leah’s Yard back into use.

Leah’s Yard to be Pioneering Social Enterprise Hub

The ‘Cambridge Street Partnership’ have been formed from three of Sheffield’s most successful social enterprise organisations.

Opus Independents, Union St and DINA have teamed together to submit plans for the historic Leah’s Yard site on Cambridge Street in Sheffield City Centre.

If the proposal to Sheffield City Council is successful it will see the site brought back into use as a “pioneering Social Enterprise hub”.

All three organisations will relocate into the space and expand their operations.

“This is a real opportunity to demonstrate an alternative vision for the city centre.

“Union St operates in a building that nobody wanted to touch for four years because it wasn’t viable so our current location proves the concept of what we do, as well as what might be possible in a location which is fit for purpose like Leah’s Yard.”

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Matt Hill, Co-Founder of Union St, one of the ‘Top 50 Co-working Spaces in the UK’ (Creative Boom Magazine)

Leah’s Yard as a Business, Social and Visitor Destination

Following refurbishment the site will have multiple uses.

Co-working and office spaces will provide functional space for freelancers and new businesses. Arts, events and entertainment spaces will provide a cultural angle whilst a new café/bar will add a further ongoing social element to the location.

Makers spaces and artist studios will continue the tradition of Leah’s Yard being a ‘Little Mesters’ site. Ground floor retail units offers space for those independent creators to sell their wares.

“Looking back on the way Little Mesters workshops operated, you see that Sheffield was built on a network of independence.

“It’s a really critical part of the city’s identity and we want to connect to that DNA.”Deborah Egan OBE, Director of DINA (Sheffield Arts Centre) and a co-founder of SONA

Leah's Yard Heart of the City II Proposal Drawings
Leah’s Yard Heart of the City II Proposal Drawings

Leah’s Yard as part of Heart of the City II

It has long been planned to revitalise Leah’s Yard as a part of the wider Heart of the City II project.

“I’ve got really strong memories of that building. It was this bustling den of people scurrying backwards and forwards. It would be amazing to bring it back into circulation with some really interesting and dynamic people who are future-oriented.”Deborah Egan OBE, Director of DINA (Sheffield Arts Centre) and a co-founder of SONA

Alongside retaining the historic Grade II listed Little Mesters yard, a new eco-friendly building will be adjoined to allow expansion and connect the spaces to a new Square.

The exciting proposals from the Cambridge Street Partnership helps to secure the site’s future as well as achieve a number of key social and cultural aims.

“DINA, Opus Independents and Union St are rightfully respected for their social, cultural and economic contributions to Sheffield. Together they will catalyse the potential of Leah’s Yard: a community enterprise, cultural and heritage hub. Innovation, making, impact, art, collaboration and play: the heart and soul of Heart of the City II. A meaningful way to level up and build back better through actions not slogans.”Leah’s Yard Social Enterprise Proposal

Leah’s Yard by the numbers

The submitted proposal includes some impressive numbers, claiming it will:

  • Attract 221,000 visitors to the Heart of the City each year
  • Accommodate 380 jobs in new offices, studios and co-working spaces, the café/bar and makerspaces
  • Deliver £4.0m of city centre spend each year
  • Support the growth of 300 businesses and launch 40 new businesses each year
  • Create 2,500 jobs in businesses supported to start-up/grow over 25 years
  • Add over £15m of GVA (Gross Value Added) to the city’s economy each year
  • Unlock economic well-being benefits worth nearly £28m

The full proposal can be read via Opus Independents’ brilliant Now Then Magazine. A first-stage decision on the plans is due in November.

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Written By

Founder and editor of The Sheffield Guide. A lifelong Sheffielder with a local pride that lovingly crafts each and every piece created. Discover the very best of the Steel City with The Sheffield Guide.

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