Matt Hill, co-founder of Union St.
Jane Imrie

Sheffield business and culture hub could create over 2,500 jobs

A heritage building in the heart of Sheffield city centre is set to be transformed into a hub for independent businesses and cultural events under new plans.

Three of the city’s social enterprises have put forward proposals to invest in 19th century building Leah’s Yard, located in the Heart of the City II development between Cambridge Street and Backfield.

Union St, DINA – Sheffield Arts Centre and Opus Independents have joined forces to form Leah’s Yard Social Enterprise (LYSE), responding to Sheffield City Council’s invitation for expressions of interest in the site with a proposal which would create over 2,500 jobs.

Matt Hill, co-founder of Union St, explained: “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. We estimate an additional footfall of almost a quarter of a million visits per year.”

Under the proposals, the Grade II listed building would be converted into a cultural and business hub, comprising retail space for local makers, artists’ studios, a café/bar, space for pop-up street food traders, an event and conference venue, office, co-working space and a new public square.

LYSE estimates that the new hub would attract 221,000 visitors to the Heart of the City annually, adding over £15m to Sheffield’s economy every year.

Deborah Egan OBE, director of DINA – Sheffield Arts Centre, commented: “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.”

Tim Feben of Opus added: “We want the partnership to be radical, to be a place where organisations can come together and help make our city better for everyone, providing meaningful opportunities and an inclusive space for shared cultural experiences.”

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