THE ambition to make Sheffield one of the country’s leading shopping destinations takes a significant step forward today with the unveiling of a £500 million plan to transform a large area of the city centre.
Construction on the Sheffield Retail Quarter could begin in 2017, bringing to an end years of paralysis triggered by the stalling and later scrapping of the doomed Sevenstone shopping centre project.
It is estimated the new scheme could create 2,500 jobs from construction and in the businesses occupying the new development.
Sheffield City Council deputy leader Leigh Bramall said: “The most successful city centres across the world are spaces where people can live, work, shop and socialise. They offer a great mix of independent and prime retailers, and encourage people to stay from morning to night.
“This is what we want for Sheffield, a flourishing city centre that is not only a good day out, but also offers jobs and economic benefits to the whole city.”
Sevenstone was a casualty of the credit crunch and in 2013 Sheffield City Council broke off its agreement with developer Hammerson after four years without progress.
The plans set out by the council today including new offices, homes and restaurants as well as space for shops.
The public will have until June 19 to comment on the proposals before the authority seeks planning permission for the new-look scheme.
A deal reached with the Government three years ago will allow the council to borrow money to help get the project off the ground against the business rates which will be generated by the development.
The presence of the nearby Meadhowhall centre and the shift to online shopping has raised questions over whether Sheffield can sustain another major retail scheme.
But the council insists the new Sheffield Retail Quarter proposals will take account of changes in shopping habits and that many Meadowhall occupants will want to open second stores in the city centre.
It is estimated the retail quarter will stop £300 million of spending heading out of the city.
Richard Wright, executive director at Sheffield Chamber of Commerce said: “What the centre must do is increase wealth in the region. If it just draws shoppers from other parts of the region they will suffer.
“Done correctly this development will both reduce the leakage of shoppers to places like Manchester and Leeds but also entice people in from all over the country.”
The upturn in the economy has seen a series of shopping schemes get underway in Yorkshire with Trinity Leeds opened in 2013 and construction underway on Victoria Gate in Leeds and Broadway Bradford.
Hull City Council yesterday unveiled plans to spend £9 million bringing forward a series of projects in readiness for City of Culture in 2017.
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