A landmark stage in the £17.5 million project to create Sheffield’s new market has been reached - as The Moor’s owners pledge to start work on retail schemes worth £50 million in the coming year.
Sheffield Council representatives, contractors and traders gathered to ‘top out’ the market, under construction on a large site between The Moor and Cumberland Way.
The ceremony marks completion of the highest part of the building.
The market, which replaces 1960s facilities at Castle Market, is due to open in November.
Six adjoining shops, including the new permanent home for TJ Hughes, are to open two months earlier in September.
But progress on the market is not the only good news.
Financial institution Scottish Widows, which owns The Moor, has announced work will begin on three more retail schemes by the end of the year.
Kerri Hunter, investment director for Scottish Widows, said: “We are serious about implementing our plans for The Moor.
“The problem is that while Sheffield is attractive to retailers, there are presently not enough suitable units for them to take up.”
Demolition has already started on the block immediately below Debenhams, which will be replaced by an 80,000 sq ft store occupied by a ‘major fashion retailer’, a range of restaurants and a rooftop cinema.
Work will also start this year on the former McDonalds block opposite Debenhams at the top of The Moor, where another ‘flagship retailer’ is set to be located.
Next has been in discussions with Scottish Widows about occupying one of the units and negotiations are believed to be continuing.
The third building to be redeveloped is the temporary home of TJ Hughes - formerly home to Woolworths then Peacocks.
Scottish Widows said the neighbouring corner unit would be demolished and the TJ Hughes unit ‘remodelled’ to house five new stores.
All three schemes, worth around £50m, already have planning permission - and with construction starting in 2013 they could be open by 2015.
Ms Hunter said Scottish Widows had already invested £10 million in improving the paving and the look of the area.
Ranald Phillips, of Scottish Widows’ planning consultants, Ashcroft, said: “Sheffield city centre has been held back by a lack of available modern retail units. Scottish Widows, which only took over The Moor in 2010, is fast creating the right kind of properties.”
He added the company hoped to announce that a ‘major fashion store’ has signed up for a unit in the block below Debenhams.
The chain’s identity is to be revealed within weeks.
Ms Hunter added: “We’re looking to create a High Street-type feel to The Moor, which has a wide variety on offer - fashion, value, cafes and restaurants.”
She said further parts of The Moor would be redeveloped in the coming years - and that progress could ‘help spur on other projects’ such as Sevenstone.
* The new Moor Market will be home to 195 stalls - many of them traders moving from the old Castle Market site.
Castle Market has become run down in recent years and stallholders currently receive a heavy discount due to its poor condition.
Designed by retail specialists Leslie Jones Architects, the new building on The Moor provides 79,000 sq ft of retail space.
It will feature a spectacular glass canopied entrance and a timber and glass roof covering a single trading floor.
The building will incorporate low energy cooling and recycling facilities for stallholders.
Coun Julie Dore, Sheffield Council leader, said: “We’ve been able to keep our promise of investing in a brand new market for Sheffield and the new shops provided by Scottish Widows will make the building even more of a focal point to help boost the economy.
“Even in the current financial climate, when we’re faced with difficult decisions, it is vital to look to the city’s future and support business and economic growth as best as we can.”
The existing Castle Market is to be flattened and the site surveyed to see what remains of the former medieval castle.