John Highfield

Member Article

Bringing the past into the 21st century at Oughtibridge Mill

THE new Oughtibridge Mill development by Sheffield’s award-winning Sky-House Co is combining the best of 21st century technology with a keen sense of the historic site’s heritage.

For alongside the nearly complete 35 Sky-House properties - the acclaimed eco-living concept created by the architects at CODA Studios - the company is also taking on a major renovation and restoration of centuries old properties that provide a vital link with the past.

A 19th century paper mill in the then tiny village of Oughtibridge became a successful and rapidly expanding business by the 1870s and was one of the first to produce paper from wood pulp rather than rags.

The mill, for years one of the main employers in the north of the city, specialised in the production of tissues, especially associated with the Dixcel brand for many decades.

The paper mill eventually closed in 2007 and all production at the site came to an end in 2015.

Key to the success of the new housing scheme - named Residential Development of the Year (fewer than 50 homes) at the Insider Yorkshire Property Industry Awards 2021 - is the Sky-House Co conversion of a row of artisan cottages into four apartments and one house.

And the next phase of the development will be the transformation of the former Oughtibridge Mill itself into a Sheffield’s first grocerant, a hybrid of grocery store and restaurant, retaining many of the building’s original features.

“This really is a major breakthrough for Sheffield and particularly for the north of the city,” said Sky-House Co co-founder David Cross.

“The original mill buildings are being transformed into a mixed use food hall, community hub - or simply a grocerant.

“Already extremely popular in Europe and the USA, the grocerant concept blurs the line between traditional restaurant dining and grocery buying

“They offer a full range of freshly prepared foods but if you don’t want to take it away and cook it yourself, you simply get them to cook it for you and you eat restaurant style.”

The Oughtibridge site will be operated by Matt and Nina Bigland of Sheffield’s Cutlery Works and other pioneering and award-winning city dining ventures, along with Luke and Stacey French of the acclaimed Joro restaurant.

In line with other Sky-House developments across South Yorkshire, there will also be extensive parking, with vehicle chargers enhancing the development’s green credentials.

“A development the size of Oughtibridge Mill needs the best facilities and that is exactly what we are providing with the mill conversion,” said David.

“We are confident that it will breathe new life into the old mill, retaining the heritage of the site but also enhancing it and also creating a new community destination, for food, drink, work and leisure.

“Our Sky-House development in Stocksbridge has benefitted from the Fox Valley effect, the way in which that project has contributed to the reinvigoration of a community.

“North Sheffield is on the rise and finally gaining the popularity it deserves, with its great transport links and beautiful setting.

“The interest in our Oughtibridge site has been enormous since before work even started and we look forward to the project being completed by the end of the year.

“Quite clear proof of the incredible interest must be that more than 50 per cent of the Sky-House properties are already sold, with the first occupiers now living in their new homes.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by John Highfield .

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