SHEFFIELD’S LEADERS have insisted plans to give its city centre a “new heart” are progressing - but shoppers will have to wait another four years for the long-awaited scheme to come to fruition.
The council has faced increasing pressure to update the public on developments in the multi-million pound project, which has been blighted by delays and setbacks.
Earlier this month leader Coun Julie Dore promised that details of a deal with a developer would be revealed in September.
She said: “Until the prospectus goes out and developers come forward with proper plans we are not in a position to say 10 developers are interested as by tomorrow 12 developers could be in it. It changes day by day.”
The council’s chief executive will brief stakeholders in The City on the progress of plans in early March, after which the next step will be the launch of a public consultation.
Already, businesses and retailers have expressed an interest in setting up shop in the area, proposals for which promise a unique blend of independent shops and big-name brands.
But a spokesman for the local authority has confirmed that work is unlikely to begin until 2017 and will take around two years to complete, more than a decade on from when original developer Hammerson put the original project on hold.
“We’ve taken the opportunity to review the whole of the scheme and bring it up to date,” the spokesman told The Yorkshire Post.
“The project has been completely re-designed into an open-air scheme.”
In 2013, the local authority severed ties with Hammerson following a series of delays in beginning work on the planned transformation of the area of Barker’s Pool, Pinstone Street and Charter Square. When they parted ways the council bought back land from the dropped developer.
“There’s been a huge amount of retail interest,” added the council’s spokesman.
“One of our ideas is to retain historic buildings in that area, as that has been a concern for some people, as well as providing new small and large-scale retail outlets. A lot of businesses want to come in but they need a bigger area, and this gives them the opportunity to do that.”
Included in the original design was a new-look flagship John Lewis store, to replace the existing building in Barker’s Pool.
But a spokeswoman for the retail giant told The Yorkshire Post there were “no imminent plans” for refurbishment work.
Meanwhile, the Sheffield Retail Development Group, made up of the city’s biggest business owners, is conducting public consultation over its own £500million plan. The consortium has registered its interest with the council with a proposal involves a 650,000 sq ft mixed-use development with an anchor store and a range of shops as well as offices, restaurants and bars.
Chairman John Crowther said: “We have significant financial backing and have assembled a world class team to undertake this project.
A Sheffield Council spokesman said: “The group is separate to the council and are working at arm’s length, but once plans have developed we hope to draw on their expertise work with them.”