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Interview with a Park Hill resident

To coincide with Peter Blundell Jones’ revisit to Park Hill Estate in Sheffield, featured in October’s AR, Silvana Taher speaks to Brenda, a resident of the estate for over 50 years

ST How long have you been living at Park Hill?

PHR For over fifty years. I moved in when it first opened in 1960, and I’m still here. I moved into a flat on the ground floor and I’m still in the same flat. I’ve raised my family here.

ST How have you found living in Park Hill?

PHR It’s lovely. I have a great view over the city. I’m part of a community where everyone knows each other. When I first moved in there were loads of young families and all the families grew up together. I had three children and they started school at the nursery on Park Hill, and stayed in schooling here until they were 11. So for me this has always been a great place to live. I’ve never felt that it was dangerous or difficult.

ST It’s been said that Park Hill went from being a very pleasant place to live between the ’60s and ’80s, but that after the ’80s it started to fall apart? How did you experience this change?

PHR For me it has always been a great place to live. Yes the houses got older, and the estate got more worn with time, but it never stopped being a great place to live.

ST Did you notice a change in the upkeep of the communal spaces in the time you lived there?

PHR At one point we were given new doors and new windows, which I thought was a good thing. Aside from that there have often been problems with the heating as well.

ST Did you notice a change in the level of security during the time that you lived there?

PHR For me, it never felt like a dangerous place. And that didn’t change with time. I didn’t think that it was dangerous when I first moved in and I still don’t think it is dangerous. We all know each other here.

ST After the renovation, there will be 1/3 social housing and 2/3 private housing. Do you think it’s good to mix social and private housing?

PHR It’s hard to tell, as there have never been posh people living here before. The way it was, we were a community, we all knew each other. I don’t know if we are going to lose that if different types of people move in.

ST Are you happy that they chose to renovate Park Hill? Or would you have been happier to see it demolished?

PHR I’m happy that it has not been demolished. But I also have reservations about the renovation. I don’t fully know what is happening or how things will change. So far, I’ve only received one letter asking me if I want to leave Park Hill or stay here.

I’ve heard that surcharges and the rent will go up. I’m also not sure how the new flats will look, and I’ve even heard rumours that we will have to pay for our own window cleaners. So I have reservations.

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