An internationally-recognised regeneration expert will visit the University of Sheffield to share how he brought empty shops back to life in his Australian hometown and how that idea could be used to transform run-down city centres across the world.
Marcus Westbury, who successfully led a pioneering project to bring derelict buildings back into use in Newcastle (Australia’s City of Steel), will tell how his scheme turned the area into one of Lonely Planet’s top ten tourist destinations in the country during a week-long visit to Sheffield.
He will meet University staff, Sheffield City Council and entrepreneurs and artists to discuss how a similar idea, by working with partners including the University, could breathe new life into Sheffield’s shopping streets.
Professor Vanessa Toulmin, the University’s Head of Engagement, organised the visit as part of The Engaged University initiative.
She said: “Marcus’ work in Newcastle, Australia, is an inspiration to all creative cities that believe through partnership – inspirational leadership and enabling people to come together – they can transform where they live.
“I’ve asked Marcus to come and share his experiences to demonstrate that in a global community, each locality can learn from each other. By working with our partners in the city, The Engaged University can help bring this together.”
Mr Westbury will oversee a major event by the University’s Sheffield School of Architecture (SSoA), where students will draw up their own innovative plans for empty buildings in the city.
Carolyn Butterworth, the University’s Master of Architecture course director and coordinator of the SSoA annual event, said: “As a school we do a lot of work in partnership with community organisations in Sheffield and beyond.
“In our highly regarded Live Project programme, over the last 15 years, our students have worked on 150 projects with schools, charities, local councils and volunteer groups.
“‘Designs on our City’ is a chance to develop this collaboration with the city further and demonstrate the impact that our students’ creativity can bring to empty buildings in the city centre.”
Professor Fionn Stevenson, Head of the University’s School of Architecture, added: ‘The ethos of our school is a firm commitment to social engagement, with a strong emphasis on connecting the key local and global issues that challenge society today – these include regenerating cities, tackling climate change and promoting resilience.