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Sheffield's property development talent of the future has been putting its ideas to the test on a project to design affordable housing for a disused area in the city.

Teams of students from the built environment department at Sheffield Hallam University were challenged by local developer Steve Wilkinson to come up with schemes for affordable, energy efficient homes for his site in Sheffield city centre.

A key element of the brief was to test new ways of delivering housing based on a combination of social housing and social enterprises to help those who currently cannot afford to get onto the housing ladder. 

The students worked in inter-disciplinary teams from courses in real estate, quantity surveying, building surveying, construction management and energy engineering. 

Steve and his consultant Paul Mercer, managing partner at Rider, Levett, Bucknall, not only provided students with the initial briefing but also ongoing advice and training throughout the project.

Marie May from the University's facilities directorate also provided lectures and guidance to bring further realism to the project.

The best two schemes were rewarded with vouchers for Spa 1877, which is the oldest remaining example in the country of a Victorian Turkish Baths and which Steve also owns. The ideas might now be considered for the site, which Steve hopes to develop by the end of next year.

Steve said: "I was really impressed with all the schemes that were put together. They are a real treasure trove of ideas and I hope to consider some of them when deciding what to do with the site.

"Working in inter-disciplinary teams really reflected how property development works and the students worked hard to consider all the elements needed when designing affordable housing for site like this."

Dave Parsons, senior lecturer in planning and development at Sheffield Hallam, said: "Working on this project, with a real client and a real site, was extremely good experience for the students. Projects like this equip them to understand current issues in property development and ultimately make them more employable when they graduate."

For press information contact: Laurie Harvey on 0114 225 2621 or email