Sheffield Tent City and the Social Cleansing of Park Hill Estate

In the new year ASH visited Park Hill Estate in Sheffield. We went to look around the estate and see the renovations. Park Hill has often been compared to London’s Robin Hood Gardens, which unlike Park Hill was refused listing by English Heritage, and we wanted to see why one building had been saved for renovation and the other is to be demolished. We also wanted to see what the consequences of that renovation were for residents, both past and present. Above all, though, we wanted to visit Tent City, the homeless camp that had been set up there in October 2016. The first thing we saw, on the site where the tents had originally been pitched, was a Notice to Leave from Sheffield City Council, stapled to a stake in the ground. The deadline was dated a few days previous, but the camp hadn’t gone, just moved around the corner to one of the courtyard lawns between the west and south blocks of the estate. There we met Anthony Cunningham, the organiser of Tent City.

He told us he wants to draw attention to the poor condition of the various homeless shelters in the city. The reason so many people were living in Tent City, he said, is because the hostels were full of drugs and violence, and they felt safer here, in tents on an empty housing estate, than they did either in the shelters or on the streets of Sheffield. Homeless people had walked from as far away as Manchester and Newcastle to come here. He told us even the council’s housing officers were sending people they couldn’t house to Tent City. Anthony also wants to draw attention to the amount of money the homeless charities are receiving from the council and various other grants, and question how it’s being used. ‘If they’re doing the job they’re being paid to do’, he asked, ‘why does Tent City exist?’ It’s a reasonable question, which neither Sheffield City Council nor the homeless charities have yet answered.

While we were talking to Anthony a woman arrived with some hot soup she’d made for the camp. The previous night she’d brought some hot chocolate. She was responding to the videos Anthony releases on social media every day asking for food, water, clothing, blankets, cardboard to stand on, wood for the fire, camping equipment, and everything else you need to survive outdoors through a Sheffield winter. Beside a metal brazier the camp’s Christmas tree was still up, decorated with strands of tinsel. At the entrance to the camp, hung across one of the tents, a bed sheet carried the message: ‘Don’t make our homeless homeless’. On the floor of the food tent a cardboard sign said simply: ‘No more Death.’ 

We spent the next three hours walking around the estate, photographing the buildings and talking to the people we met. When we got back to London we made contact with Anthony, and over the past month we’ve done our best to publicise his campaign through our networks. This is what we saw and have learned since about what’s happening on Sheffield’s Park Hill Estate.

West Block

Park Hill Estate was completed in 1961, providing 995 council homes, 74 garages, 31 shops, 4 pubs, a laundrette, community centre, social club, doctor’s and dental clinic, chemist, infant and primary school, butcher’s, baker’s, newsagent, fish & chips shop and 12 caretakers for a community of around 3,000 estate residents. The four blocks, built on a slope falling northwards, rise from 4-storeys in the south to 13 in the north, maintaining an even roof level across the whole complex. The brick cladding infilling the concrete frame passes through four shades from dark brown at the bottom to pale ochre at the top, reflecting the surrounding architecture on Park Hill. The young architects were Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith, under the supervision of John Lewis Womersley, Sheffield Council’s City Architect. Construction began in 1957, and was completed in four years at a total cost of £2.2 million.

One of Park Hill’s innovations, revolutionary for the time, were the ‘streets in the sky’ that run alongside the flats every three floors, beginning at the first, and facing into the interior courtyards. Designed to imitate the streets of the terraced housing that was demolished to make way for the estate, and even given the old street names for familiarity, they were wide enough for milk floats to deliver their bottles to residents’ front doors, as well as collect their rubbish. And because all but the highest of the three ‘streets’ connected at some point to the ground as they went up the hill, residents were not dependent on lifts to get in and out of their homes. Another, even more important decision, was that neighbours on the old terraces were given flats next door to each other on the new estate, allowing the familial networks that bind a community together to continue. That community was working class, largely employed in Sheffield’s thriving steel industry.

South Block

However, under Margaret Thatcher’s government, British Steel lost £1 billion on a £3 billion turnover in 1980-81, and a sixth of Sheffield’s workforce, around 40,000 people, lost their jobs. Unemployment in the city as a whole reached 15 per cent in 1984. The 1977 Housing Act, which provided the first statutory definition of homelessness, meant local councils now had the duty to house the city’s most vulnerable people, and many of them ended up on the Park Hill Estate. From being home to a working-class community, Park Hill Estate became a dumping ground for the victims of Thatcher’s brave new world.

Near the estate’s south block we were approached by a homeless man living in Tent City. He told us openly he was a junkie, but insisted that he always disposed of his needles after use, and helped make the area safe for other users. He was trying to get allocated housing from the council’s rapidly diminishing stock, but they wanted to split him up from his girlfriend and two kids, and wouldn’t give him a home they could live in together. He told us that, after many years of struggle, he was in the mental frame to kick his addiction, but needed a home, and that this was the biggest obstacle to him getting his life and family back together. He didn’t ask us for money.

East Block

In 1998 Park Hill was given Grade II listing by English Heritage. The last remaining residents were evicted in 2003, and the following year Sheffield City Council, under Bob Kerslake, transferred the entire estate to property developer Urban Splash for the nominal sum of £1. Following his knighthood two years later, Sir Bob Kerslake went on to become Chief Executive of the government’s Homes and Community Agency in 2008, and Permanent Secretary of the Department of Communities and Local Government in 2010. In 2015, as the newly ennobled Baron Kerslake of Endcliffe in the City of Sheffield, Lord Kerslake became Chair of Peabody housing association, which this month merged with Family Mosaic, and now manages a combined portfolio of 55,000 homes.

North Block

In 2006 Sheffield City Council granted planning permission on the land for 634 new homes for private sale, 40 available under a shared ownership scheme, and 200 for rent through Great Places Housing Group, one of the UK’s largest landlords, which owns or manages 18,465 homes. In 2007 the estate’s schools, shops and housing office were demolished, and in 2008 Urban Splash began Phase 1 of the renovation of the north block on a proposal for 257 apartments for private sale, 56 flats for rent, and 12 units for shared ownership, plus 30,000 square feet of commercial space. At the insistence of Urban Splash, the development agreement between them and Sheffield City Council has been withheld from public scrutiny.

Having incurred pre-tax losses of £15.4 million for the year ending 31 March 2012, Urban Splash announced in August 2013 that it had formed a joint venture with property developer Places for People to complete the renovation of the north block. The deal, which followed Urban Splash selling its new partner 654 of its other properties for £77 million, also meant that Places for People, which has assets in excess of £3 billion and manages more than 150,000 homes, is now the purchaser of last resort on Park Hill’s new flats in the event of market failure. The following month Sheffield City Council was accused of having spent £2.8 million of council funds since 2005 to keep the project afloat.

Renovation

Renovation of the north block of Park Hill Estate was undertaken by architects Hawkins\Brown, with Studio Egret West as urban designer. Despite its listing, the building was gutted, with only the concrete frame remaining. The bricks from the original walls have been removed and replaced with aluminium sheets painted in bright colours, and the interiors of the flats have been stripped back to the raw concrete frame – which was not exposed in the original structure – reflecting the contemporary fetish for Brutalist architecture.

Part of the mechanism by which Brutalist estates are emptied of their social content as housing for the working class is this fetishisation of form and material. But this sensory fetish, appealing to both sight and touch, is only preserved and revealed for middle-class appreciation at the cost of a fundamental change in the function of the building, whose ‘essence’ the raw concrete is now, supposedly, revealed to be: no longer as the material structure of mass-produced social housing for the working class, but as the object of middle-class aesthetic pleasure for those few who have eyes to see (and can afford to live in the renovated estate). The fetish is always formed as compensation for a lack (in the fetishist) and absence (in the fetishised): for the foot fetishist it’s the woman he daren’t see whole; for the collector of ‘primitive art’ it’s the colonisation of the people it was stolen from; and for the contemporary aesthete of Brutalism it’s the working class community whose eviction from the renovated housing he refuses to see.

Phase 1 of the renovation of 78 flats in the north block at Park Hill Estate was completed in 2012. 26 of these flats were offered to social tenants, with the other 52 going on sale for between £90,000 and £150,000. The entire lower three floors of the block have been rented as commercial space. In 2013 the renovated block was nominated for the Stirling Prize, which is the apotheosis of this fetishism. It’s for this reason that the middle classes have so much invested in such prizes, not only financially but psychically. Social cleansing is conducted through an ideological mechanism that allows the beneficiary not to see what is right in front of their nose, a moral myopia that turns its gaze from the poverty and violence on which those previously denigrated, now suddenly beautiful concrete beams are exposed to their dazzled eyes.

Sales Office

The sales office was closed when we were there, but outside we began talking with a middle-class man, originally from London, who was eager to discuss the estate. He was visiting his daughter, who had recently bought one of the new apartments. We chatted amiably about the renovations, the recasting of the concrete balustrades, and other formal aspects of the block. We asked him if he knew about the tenancy range on the refurbishment, and he said ‘mixed’. Then we asked him whether he was aware of the Tent City for the homeless at the other end of the estate. He was, and said he had ‘every sympathy with their plight’. He was a nice bloke, but saw no correlation between his daughter’s purchase of her new home and the people living in tents surrounded by 600 empty council flats a couple of hundred yards away.

The total number of flats on Park Hill Estate will be reduced from 995 to 874, of which 300 have been earmarked as ‘affordable’. Transform South Yorkshire, the Government’s former Housing Market Renewal Agency (with £13.5 million), the Government’s Homes and Community Agency (£24.8 million) and English Heritage (£0.5 million) have so far committed a total of £38.8 million of public money to the £130-135 million of private money invested in the renovation. In response to a Freedom of Information request, Sheffield City Council have revealed that, as of February 2013, 26 homes for social rent were made available in the renovated north block, with a further 30 homes for social rent promised in the future.

These 56 flats comprise the entire rental component of the block, and raise the question of how many are actually for ‘affordable’ rent. With government subsidies now only available for the latter, housing associations are systematically converting social rents into affordable rents, with 76,259 converted across the UK in the three years between 2012 and 2015. Under the Homes and Communities Agency’s Affordable Homes Guarantee Programme 2013–17, Great Places Housing Group, in their end of year report 2015, boast of bringing 900 homes to start on site over this period. They make no mention of homes for social rent. But whether for social or affordable prices, of the 670 remaining households that were ‘decanted’ from Park Hill Estate, by February 2013 only 18 former residents had returned.

In November 2015 architects Mikhail Riches were awarded the contract for Phase 2 of the renovation, to the northern half of the west block. This will see 200 more homes and 27,000 square feet of commercial space made available to buy and rent. In March 2016, following the award of £1 million of government funding, Artspace announced that it will relocate to a new art complex made up of galleries, studios and workshops, to be housed in the estate’s east block. And in October 2016 a revised contract between council and developer agreed – however unlikely this may be – that the renovation of the estate will finally be completed in 2022, with the remaining three blocks earmarked for 330 housing units for students from Sheffield’s Hallam University, a further 210 private apartments, plus more commercial space.

Marketing Tragedy

As part of what property developers call ‘place-making’, a working-class tragedy has been re-branded as middle-class marketing strategy for Park Hill Estate. Against a backdrop of Sheffield’s industrial past, Urban Splash has transformed a line of estate graffiti (first editing out the name of the addressee, Clare Middleton) into a Tracey Eminesque neon sign which they use to promote the regeneration of Park Hill Estate for their middle-class clients. The words ‘Will you marry me?’, written on one of the bridges between the renovated north block and the old west block, becomes an invitation to join the shiny new vision of Sheffield the transformation of Park Hill represents – no longer as the heartland of steel production in the North of England, but as a call centre for foreign-owned companies.

The writer of the graffiti, Jason, who was abandoned by his dad, sexually abused in homes as a child, and whose girlfriend was warned off by social services from marrying him and subsequently died from cancer, now out of work and broke, contacted Urban Splash about their use of his message to his dead girlfriend. ‘You’re making all this money out of my graffiti and I’m homeless. Can you give me a flat?’ Urban Splash didn’t bother to respond. Instead it has been left to an activist from Sheffield, Alice Carder, to start a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to house Jason. On her Just Giving page she writes: ’This could be another sad story of profit over people. Or it could be one of human kindness, love and people power.’ Urban Splash, which last year reported total returns of £14.6 million on a £25.1 million turnover, has not donated to the fund.

Tent City

In October 2016 Sheffield’s homeless set up Tent City on land at the south end of the estate’s west block. The camp, which initially gave shelter to around 20 people, has received widespread support from the people of Sheffield in response to its social media campaign. Shops and cafes have donated food, drinks and wooden pallets to keep people off the muddy ground, and one company even installed portable toilets in the camp – until Sheffield City Council threatened to fine them if they weren’t removed. They subsequently issued Tent City a ‘Notice to Leave’ the land by 1 January, 2017. According to figures released that month by the Department of Communities and Local Government, the council has 737 local authority-owned homes sitting empty this winter. Since Park Hill Estate technically belongs to Urban Splash, it isn’t clear whether this includes the more than 600 homes on the estate that have sat empty for the past 14 years. Sheffield City Council additionally threatened the as-yet-unidentified defendant with up to £2,000 in legal fees if they did not vacate the land on which the west, south and east blocks of Park Hill Estate have stood empty since 2003.

In response to these threats the camp moved from its original site to a lawn on the courtyard between the west and south blocks, providing better shelter from the icy winds on Park Hill. There are currently around 30 homeless people living on the site. On 13 January the defendant, now identified as Anthony Cunningham, was issued with a ‘Notice of Trespass Hearing’, for which he was fined with a £355 issue fee, and instructed to appear at Sheffield County Court on 25 January, 2017.

Anthony Cunningham

The organiser of Tent City, Anthony Cunningham grew up on Park Hill Estate, and has served in the British Armed Forces. He worked for a year doing outreach for the homeless and vulnerable in Sheffield, during which he experienced how ineffectual the city’s hostels were, and now wants to open a night shelter in the city centre. He has started a petition that has so far collected 1,700 signatures out of a target of 2,500, which when reached he will present to the other project leaders at a scheme called L.I.F.E (a new beginning). He’s also spoken of raising funds for a derelict building on Duke Street, which runs along the east boundary of the estate, refurbishing it through the offers of voluntary work he’s received from builders, and turning it into a shelter.

When we met Anthony on Park Hill Estate and listened to him tell us about Tent City and what he hopes to achieve, we noticed how clean and ordered the camp was, with no rubbish in sight. About three hours later, as we were taking some final photos, we ran into him again, walking around the estate on his own as night fell picking up rubbish. He said he didn’t want the press turning up and accusing the homeless of creating a hazard, but he also wanted to make it safe for any users by cleaning up used needles. At ASH we don’t usually focus on individuals in campaigns, but we thought Anthony was a bit special and took this photograph of him.

Cathedral Archer Project

At the other end of our estimation, Tim Renshaw, the CEO of homeless charity Cathedral Archer Project, testified at the hearing in Sheffield County Court on 25 January. In his statement he condemned Sheffield Tent City on the grounds that, while it may be a ‘human response’ to homelessness, ‘human behaviour’, he said, means it isn’t the answer. By this he implied that homelessness isn’t caused by poverty, unemployment, the decimation of Sheffield’s industries, cuts to benefits and public services, or the demolition of housing people can afford to live in, but by the behaviour of the homeless. It didn’t surprise us to learn that Tim Renshaw is a former priest and curate: God being both perfect and omnipotent, the religious have to see suffering as an individual’s moral failing, which is why the government pays them so much to keep telling us homelessness is our own fault. According to Father Renshaw, however, the human behaviour at fault is not that of the government cutting funds for social housing, councils handing public land over to private developers, builders making a fortune on huge profit margins, or investors getting rich selling luxury apartments – it’s ours.

Nor were we surprised to discover that, in addition to its numerous other sources of income, the Cathedral Archer Project, which in 2016 registered a turnover of £661,530 (up £216,440 from the previous year) and declared assets of £327,540, receives a £30,000 grant from Sheffield City Council. As a Christian, Father Renshaw will forgive us for believing that his testimony in condemnation of Tent City was the quid pro quo for his 30 pieces of silver. Follow the money and you’ll find the corruption, and it inevitably leads all the way up to God’s pearly gates.

Helped by the reverend’s testimony, Sheffield County Court has granted Sheffield City Council an interim possession order for ‘Tent City’, giving them power to evict the camp within 24 hours. This means the more than 30 homeless people living there will be asked to leave at the end of a police baton and the camp demolished. This, apparently, is because the Labour council, according to Jayne Dunn, the Cabinet Member for Housing, ‘doesn’t think it is a safe place to stay’. More specifically and to the point, she wants homeless people to ‘get support and accommodation from established services’ – which is to say, from charities like the Cathedral Archer Project, which without the patronage of the homeless wouldn’t be making the large sums of money they do.

In addition to the £30,000 grant from the council, the charity received £388,842 from the Big Lottery Fund in 2010, £30,000 from Lloyds Bank in 2010, a further £60,000 in 2015, £15,000 from the South Yorkshire Police in 2014, and £75,000 from the Henry Smith Charity in 2015. Just as with the evicted residents whose homes Labour councils are demolishing up and down England, the homeless of Tent City are a lucrative source of income for the charities that claim these considerable sums in their name; and their eviction from Tent City not only makes them homeless again, but allows property developers Urban Splash to continue to keep over 600 council homes empty, as they have done for the past 14 years, while they work out how to make the greatest returns on its renovation. Council, developer, charity, law court, police: every link in the chain of social cleansing doing its job – including, of course, the architects.

Visions and Revisions

One of the most intractable problems ASH faces is convincing residents facing the regeneration of their estate – whether through renovation or demolition – that the new homes promised by the council are not being built for their benefit but for an entirely new clientelle of mostly private buyers and renters. We know the council is lying; the council know they’re lying; but persuading residents that local authorities – and Labour councils no less – are deliberately trying to make them homeless means challenging everything they’ve ever believed about the public sector and, for many of them, the Labour Party.

What makes Park Hill Estate so important as a case study is that we can follow its history from its beginning in the great council housing schemes of the 1960s; see the reasons for its decline in the 1980s – not, as we are constantly told by politicians, because of its architecture, but because of lack of maintenance and the changes to its use and resident demographic; look at the economic and political forces behind the decision to transfer its housing stock to a private developer; reveal the role of both housing association and central government in converting what is left of its social housing into affordable rents; place its renovation and re-branding for a middle-class clientelle in the context of the wider regeneration of Sheffield from an industrial into a service economy; expose the collusion of council, law court and charity in keeping its hundreds of empty homes free of the city’s homeless for over a decade; all the way through – if not to its end – then to a pretty accurate idea of what’s coming next. As supporting cast in this history, the role of architects in dressing up the social cleansing of a community of 3,000 residents as a purely formal exercise in building renovation has nevertheless been key to its acceptance by the public. It’s not for nothing that architects have been called ‘the funeral directors of the working class’. If you want to know about the visions and revisions of estate regeneration, look at Park Hill.

And where ASH has so far designed alternative proposals for estates threatened with demolition, Park Hill also demonstrates that listing estates is no solution for the communities that live on them. On the contrary, while residents threatened with the demolition of their homes are more likely to put up resistance, the renovation of their homes up to the high standards required of a listed estate is an effective means of decanting them. So while London’s Robin Hood Gardens, designed by Jack Lynn’s former colleagues Alison and Peter Smithson, was not listed, and is to be demolished and replaced with another generic example of the new London vernacular designed by architects Haworth Tompkins, its neighbour, Balfron Tower, was listed by Historic England, and is now being renovated by Poplar HARCA housing association to standards that no former resident can afford to pay – either as leaseholders unable to afford the cost of renovation (estimated at £137,000 per flat), or as tenants unable to afford the hugely increased rents, with no social housing provided. As both Balfron Tower and Park Hill show, listing an estate is merely another means of socially cleansing the resident community and freeing up the renovated building for a new, middle-class clientele of buyers and renters.

These lyrics by Morrissey, scribbled on a wall of the estate, were originally about a cemetery, but they serve just as well as an epitaph for the evicted community of Park Hill, whose history and memory the renovated and fetishised Brutalism of the new luxury apartments serves to erase.

Justice for Tent City

Architects for Social Housing calls for justice for Tent City in Sheffield County Court on Friday, 3 February on the charge of trespass for giving the city’s homeless a safe place to sleep in the middle of a Sheffield winter. The hearing, in which the council will seek a permanent possession order, is being held in The Law Courts, 50 West Bar, Sheffield, S3 8PH. If you live in Sheffield, please go down and show your solidarity with Anthony Cunningham, protest against the eviction of Tent City, and demand that Sheffield City Council opens the more than 600 homes sitting empty on Park Hill Estate to the homeless of Sheffield, and then refurbished – not for those who can afford to buy homes, as the billboards say, ‘from £100,000’ – but for the 29,444 households that are currently on the city’s housing waiting list.

How much rental revenue has Sheffield City Council lost from allowing more than 600 council flats to stand empty for 14 years? How much from the 995 flats on the original estate? Since Park Hill was handed over to Urban Splash in 2003, the council, which claimed it didn’t have the funds to refurbish the buildings, has lost over 724,000 weekly rents on 1, 2 and 3 bedroom homes. Current rents on the few remaining flats for social rent on the north block are £73.27 per week for a 1-bedroom flat, £89.66 for a 2-bedroom flat, and £103.00 for a 3-bedroom flat. Taking an average weekly rent of £89 per week (based on 1 x 1-bedroom flat, 2 x 2-bedroom flats and 1 x 3-bedroom flat in each 3-storey module) that’s around £65 million of lost revenue. With the £39 million of public money that’s been given to the private development, the council could have had £104 million, around £104,000 per flat – enough to refurbish the estate, and keep Park Hill as council housing. These figures are, of course, rough estimates and have many variables like changing rents, servicing and what little maintenance the council carried out between 1980 and 2003, plus the cost of decanting tenants during refurbishment; but they point to the revenues lost when Sheffield City Council put public housing into private hands, and the financial viability of refurbishing estates when the political will to do so is there. The social cleansing of Park Hill estate is not a financial necessity but a political choice.

tent-city-banner

Conclusions

It’s impossible to know exactly how much has been spent on the renovation of the north block of Park Hill Estate. The total cost of £40 million listed in the project data in 2010 only covered making the external envelope watertight, with the construction and interior fittings of flats dependent on market sales. And that’s before Places for People were cut into a new financial deal in 2013. As the ‘commercially sensitive’ information of private companies, none of this is available for public scrutiny, even on the renovation of formerly public housing. When the council gave Urban Splash the keys to Park Hill they also gave away their right to scrutinise the financial arrangements that would determine how many of the new homes would be available for private sale, shared ownership, joint equity, affordable or social rent – what Mark Latham, the development manager at Urban Splash, has called ‘remixing the tenures’.

However, taking the figures provided by Sheffield City Council in February 2013 – before Places for People came on board that August – £170 million of private and public money had been allocated to the renovation of the entire estate. With planning permission for 874 units divided between residential and commercial space, that comes to £194,500 per unit. According to the latest prices, the homes are selling for between £100,000 for a 1-bedroom and £150,000 for a 3-bedroom flat – considerably less, in other words, than the cost of refurbishing them. So whatever profit Urban Splash is making out of the project must be coming from the £39 million of public money invested by the various government bodies. It’s not surprising that the thirteen-year project has constantly stalled for lack of funds, or that it has been forced into partnership with a wealthier developer.

The motivations for the renovation of Park Hill Estate are different in degree, therefore, if not in kind, to what’s happening in London, where council estates – whether demolished like Robin Hood Gardens or renovated like Balfron Tower – are being replaced with flats only the very wealthy can afford to purchase. The cost of materials and labour does not increase five times between Sheffield and London, yet the flats on Park Hill Estate, at this level of renovation, would be on sale for between £500,000 and £750,000 in the capital. It’s this mark-up, and not the burden of so-called ‘affordable’ housing quotas, that accounts for the unprecedented profit margins being made by developers and builders. How many homes for social rent could be built with such sums is a question that can only be answered if there is the political will to ask it, but that will is entirely lacking in British politics today.

Ultimately, the blame for what’s happening at Park Hill Estate lies with the withdrawal of funds for council housing by successive governments, both Tory and Labour. But Sheffield City Council’s decision to offload the estate to a private developer, rather than refurbish it for existing residents, can only be explained by an account of where the revenue from the estate’s rents in the 42 years between 1961 and 2003 went. Contrary to the widely-peddled lie that council housing is subsidised by the tax-payer, the £2.2 million cost of building Park Hill Estate, which was low even for 1961, would have been paid off decades ago. But whether because of mismanagement or corruption, the council’s decision has directly resulted in the social cleansing of 3,000 residents from their former homes, the transferal of 1,000 council homes into private hands, and the expenditure of nearly £40 million pounds of public money on private investments. Indirectly, but no less consequently, it has resulted in the obscene sight of a camp of 30 homeless people sleeping in tents through the winter of 2016-17 against a backdrop of 600 empty council homes.

As we publish this article, news has come that at 11am this morning, Monday 30 January – four days before the time agreed at the hearing in Sheffield County Court – South Yorkshire Police, acting on the orders of Sheffield City Council, evicted Tent City from Park Hill Estate. It’s roughly 30 occupants are now homeless again.

Simon Elmer
Architects for Social Housing

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