Now it’s time for the official retail quarter ‘divorce’

Grosvenor Hotel
Grosvenor Hotel

Sheffield this week started the formal process of “divorcing” its retail quarter developer so that it can find a new partner.

Ten weeks after the council said it was ending its relationship with London-based Hammerson, it is now tying up legal arrangements to leave it free to talk to other developers and investors.

Despite the Sevenstone delays and frustration, the authority remains convinced there is a deal to be done over the site between Barkers Pool, Pinstone Street and Moorhead, especially with a £30m helping hand from the Government.

Council cabinet member Leigh Bramall said: “We will bring a new scheme forward for the people of Sheffield - a high class regional shopping and leisure facility that will compete with other city centres such as Manchester, Leeds and Nottingham.”

One of the first jobs will be to work with advisers on reassessing the scale, content and design of the development to reflect changes in the retail and commercial climate. Regular talks continue to be held with the John Lewis group, which is seen as an integral part of the new quarter.

Hammerson owns about one-third of the site, and its transfer will be a key part of the finalising the break.

It is intended to take a revised scheme to the market next spring with a predicted completion date of 2018/19.

After the council could not get a firm commitment from Hammerson, it says it has been approached by several potential developers and investment companies.

One option to try to speed up the process and take control is for the council to take the initiative by creating a ‘collaborative development vehicle’ while searching for private investment.