Information on discussions to find a new use for the Eye Witness Works site, Milton Street, Sheffield.

Suggested new design Image of present building
Taylors Eye Witness Limited continues to focus on the development of the Taylors Eye Witness brand - high quality well designed products from the cutting edge experts. Over the past 3 years Taylors Eye Witness have won 3 International design awards for the IF4000 series of knives and the Chantry Modern Knife Sharpener. Most recently Taylors Eye Witness were presented with a Gold Award in the Kitchenware Category at the Industry Awards ceremony for their new magnetic knife rack.
Suggested new design Images of present buildings
To continue to move the business forward securing Taylors Eye Witness's future (including the livelihood of over 80 Sheffield families), the company needs to relocate to a modern factory where they are able to have a tight, well organised manufacturing unit, secure warehousing facilities and modern offices.
The company is currently based in Eye Witness Works a partly Victorian grade 2 listed factory complex situated close to Sheffield city centre. The building is a warren of small areas making effective use of staff functions difficult and the most effective use of staff time impossible - it is no longer fit for purpose, (read report). To survive the company needs to keep tight control of overheads and operate as efficiently as possible, in order to meet the competition from the Far East head on - impossible in the current building.
The company needs to realise as much capital as possible from the sale of Eye Witness works, so that it can relocate to a new factory/office unit elsewhere in Sheffield. The company needs the collateral of a property to secure a sufficient working overdraft from the bank.
The planning process started in 2005 as follows:

1. Discussions with potential developers - it became apparent that planning permission for the redevelopment of the site was needed to generate sufficient cash from the sale to fund the move. Initial meetings held with the Sheffield Planning Dept who said that no grant funding was available for the site.

2. Wireframe Studios appointed to measure the building.
Site Plan Layout, Ground FLoor, First Floor, Second Floor, Ceylon Works, Milton Street, Sections.

3. Nov 2005 A report from Richard Eastwood of Eastwood & Partners was received. Mr Eastwood is an acknowledged expert on historic buildings. His report is here along with the appendices. Mr Eastwood`s conclusion was
"An initial appraisal leads to the simple conclusion that the site is not retainable in its current form. It is not currently capable of economic use delivering value able to pay for long term upkeep. A radical approach may be necessary to ensure preservation of important features, and this is likely to lead to a solution in which only limited elements can be retained"

4. Commissioned WPA Chartered Surveyors to review possible development alternatives including Housing, Office Space and Mixed Use. WPA concluded that a student accommodation development was the only outcome likely to generate sufficient cash to fund a new factory.

5. Summer 2006 Following a 'beauty contest' Bond Bryan appointed as architects. Bond Bryan have much experience in dealing with sensitive sites in Sheffield.

6. Spring 2007 Bond Bryan produce initial design studies after which there followed a site visit from Sheffield Planning Dept and English Heritage.

7. Listing on Eye Witness Works is up graded to 2*. Listing change is challenged by Roger Wools & Partners

8. May 2007 Bond Bryan plans are published and presented to the Sheffield Conservation Advisory Group and the to Sheffield Planning Department

9. Discouraging response received from Sheffield`s Planning Department, followed by a one-to-one meeting with the Head of Planning who confirmed that no grant funding was available for the building.

10. June 2007 Review of listing change allowed by the Department of Culture Media and Sport

11. July 2007 report received from Buildings Archaeologist Colin Briden. Colin`s conclusion was "-the decision to up grade appears hasty and ill-informed" . Report forwarded to the Department of Culture Media and Sport.

12. Oct 2008. Site is downgraded to Grade 2 listing. This follows on from many hours of emailing and meetings and an apology from Peter Beacham of English Heritage for the unjust way that Taylors Eye Witness was treated.

Of course all the time this has gone on, the property market has collapsed, the recession is in full swing and all funding has dried up!

Feedback is welcome by email to alastair@taylors-eye-witness.co.uk.

Factory Visits - We are sorry but Health and Safety regulations make adhoc site visits impossible for the public however we are planning some open days as part of Sheffield Galvanize festival in Nov/Dec 2007.

We aim to keep this record up to date as a resource for interested parties. Correspondence will only be posted with the agreement of both sender and recipient. We hope that agreement can soon be reached to find a sustainable future use for Eye Witness Works that meets the hopes and aspirations of all parties and enables Taylors Eye Witness Limited to relocate to modern efficient premises where it can help maintain Sheffield`s long standing reputation of high quality cutting edges. Without that agreement the Eye Witness Works will slowly decay, the business has no chance of survival and livelihoods and unique craftmen's skills will be lost. Energy, time and capital that should be devoted to moving the business forward is being lost in these negotiations. Indeed it is ironic that just when the company is reaping the rewards of its investment in design it is trapped in an unsustainable building. (Read article from the Financial Times - 02-June-06 and article by Design Works).

Perhaps more ironcally Trafalgar Works, Taylors Eye Witness' former works, was compulsory purchased by Sheffield City Council and was left to rot for the past 40 years. Were the planning system fair, a precedent would have been set and the Eye Witness works site would be allowed to be redeveloped.

For convenience all the documents relating to the building and planning applications of the Eye Witness Works are listed here for easy access.

Wireframe Studios appointed to measure the building.
Site Plan Layout, Ground FLoor, First Floor, Second Floor, Ceylon Works, Milton Street, Sections.
Richard Eastwood of Eastwood & Partners report and appendices.
Presentation boards
Reports prepared by Bond Bryan Architects, The Church Studio, Sheffield S10 1LP.
Buildings Archaeologist Colin Briden's report.'
 

 



Contact Information
e-mail alastair@taylors-eye-witness.co.uk
By post:- Taylors Eye Witness, Eye Witness Works, Milton Street, Sheffield, S3 7WJ, England
Tel +44 (0)114 2724221   Fax +44 (0)114 2754187
http://www.taylors-eye-witness.co.uk