Humber Street Fruit Market, Hull
Category: The Great Street
Date of visit: September 2017
Assessor: Alistair Barr
1. Work together to make great things happen
When local government and developers work together great things can happen. There is no doubt the range of grants, innovative leases, sympathetic restorations and art projects could only be achieved by a public/private collaboration.
2. Use unplanned breaks to your advantage
The ‘recession pause’ gave chance to reconsider the scheme and make it more responsive. We admired the way that the masterplan had become more responsive whilst the bidding, costing and feasibility stage progressed.
3. The small picture can produce rich results
A complex street deserves a complex response. This street is a vibrant and thoughtful refurbishment with many commercial and social benefits. A diverse team of experts has engaged with local and motivated tenants to create something special.
4. Care for details will go noticed
The interventions range across all scales. The big moves such as flood protection and the new coworking offices are excellent. The attention to detail that is evident on street art and signage is inspiring and all scales between have been considered.
This street forms the spine to a new proposed urban village in Hull’s former Fruit Market area located between the city centre and Humber Waterfront, bounded by River Hull and former docks. Many steps have already been taken in the regeneration of the street and the assessors agreed this would be a worthy winner in this category.
The Fruit Market Limited Liability Partnership (FMLLP) was set up in October 2015 between Hull City council and Wykeland Beal Limited. Wykeland Beal is formed from two separate family owned developers that joined for this project. The vision for the whole Fruit Market is a “unique, vibrant, cultural quarter where people live, work and play”. The street is highlighted in Hull’s Strategic Plan and has formed a core part of the City of Culture 2017’s success.
The street reflects the cultural and social diversity of the space and the new dry dock amphitheatre venue supports events such as Humber Street Sesh and the Freedom Festival. Recent works by FMLLP have treated local character in a relaxed and authentic way. Innovative structural engineering renovation techniques preserve buildings that were previously thought unsaveable. The patina of age has been retained and new layers of interest created by local artists have been added.
The street has a relaxed appearance with kerb-less stone paving, seating, table tennis, planters and art projects integrated with service and emergency vehicle access. The industrial buildings have been adapted successfully to the present a mix of vibrant uses, whilst retaining their original robust character.
The Humber Street Partnership has created an environment for people of all social backgrounds and ages. 20 per cent of the finished floor space will be offered at affordable rents, which encourages start-ups and galleries. Viable business should grow under a supportive commercial system so rents are based on a stepped lease as businesses grow. The new affordable live-work residential units on Humber Street and Pier Street, together with further pedestrian flows, have increased natural surveillance.
The new dry dock amphitheatre offers spaces for events with views to the Humber Estuary, which is a special ‘Area of Conservation’, and C4DI (Centre for Digital Innovation), which is a thriving business hub in a formerly derelict space. The lower part of the dry dock below the amphitheatre decking has been planted with phragmites, a native reed. Some concern has been expressed locally that HMS Pickle, a replica of Nelson’s topsail schooner in the marina, had not been integrated into the Heritage strategy, though it has pride of place on the axis of the street.
The C4DI centre has been a great incubator for business and the rest of Humber Street seems set to follow this success. As a public/private partnership the FMLLP is able to pursue models that more conventional developers may avoid. A Coastal Communities grant of £701,000 has enabled No. 61-63 to start refurbishment work and this grant joins the long list of grants that the client has secured. At Butler Whites restaurant the tenant took a risk moving into an unproven area. The client has helped share this risk by a stepped lease and by making the building shell ready for fit out. The client is helping projects in innovative ways, but the commercial success will take more years to be demonstrated. The assessors were confident that this was a well-paced and considered renovation programme that produces a good mix of commercial successful activities.
The team proposes to create green zones on the street but no details of this were given, however the street has been re-paved on a ‘shared-space’ basis in recycled stone setts. All contractors involved follow responsible sourcing of building and recyclable materials. The Travel Green plan seems to support many sustainable initiatives. Flood mitigation was an essential part of the early enabling works. A Coastal Communities grant was used in 2014 to install new flood defences to protect the whole area and unlock development spaces. Ground floor spaces are built to be cleared and withstand flooding easily if this does occur. Sustainable drainage is used throughout and cycling routes and parking is incorporated in the masterplan. The retention of so many buildings is very sustainable, especially when many were initially expected to be demolished.
As a regenerated brown field site this scheme is a great way of demonstrating that authentic refreshment creates layers of interest with long-term benefits. There are 230 regular co-workers in C4DI, and with the support services involved over 1,000 freelancers and people linked to start-ups. Cat Zero occupies a subsidised space in the street near their 72-foot catamaran in the marina. This is an outstanding youth outreach programme designed to encourage new aspirations and employment opportunities for local “hard to reach” young people who are not in employment or education. These initiatives are admirable but the assessors noted the housing proposals facing the A63 and wondered what processes would ensure that the new build housing achieves the highest levels of design. The vision is of a separate urban village so we also felt that there was a danger of creating an exclusive and separated enclave.
The Dry Dock Bridge and Scale Lane Bridge create good pedestrian links and the cycle and bus routes are clear. However the A63 Castle Street is a barrier that disconnects the site from the city centre. The client feels that this is not an issue but we feel that other proposals should be made to increase connectivity for pedestrians. Highways England has pledged £4.5m towards the £11.5m pedestrian and cycle bridge, connecting the area to the city centre, which will address the disconnections when built. The Cruise Terminal plans seems to offer new visitor profiles to Humber Street whilst considering environmental impact.
Humber Street forms the spine of the long-term regeneration of Hull’s Fruit Market new urban village. The project so far has worked with the grain and character of the area with an exemplary form of public/private partnership.
The challenge will be to maintain the high standards already set as development picks up and other landowners are involved. The assessors believe the mechanisms in place can achieve this. We strongly recommend Humber Street for the award in the Great Streets category.