An alternative guide to Sheffield: a crucible for left-field culture and regeneration

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With a £470m redevelopment of the city centre, a feted documentary festival and a vibrant foodie scene, the former steel-making hub is showing its true mettle

“There’s a lot of confidence in Sheffield these days,” says James O’Hara, one of the city’s leading cultural promoters. “It feels like we’re on the cusp of a new era.”

It’s a refrain you hear a lot in Sheffield today. Sprawled across five valleys in the foothills of the Peak District, this former steelmaking world capital, and birthplace of Arctic Monkeys, Pulp, Human League and Warp Records, has long been a cultural heavy hitter. Yet as key city centre developments such as the vast new Cambridge Street Collective food hall open their doors, a rejuvenated urban landscape is emerging. Green corridors and innovative parks wind their way round reclaimed brutalist buildings; fluid sculptures echo the city’s wiggly contoured topography and the flow of its rivers. There are areas of the city yet to be reached, but Sheffield’s vision for its post-industrial afterlife proudly leans into what makes the city distinctive.

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