I hope that 2014 sees Sheffield adopt a new vision for its city centre.
The developer Hammersons pulled out of creating a new retail quarter based on large chain stores. With the economic downturn and the switch to internet shopping, it was simply not viable.
An alternative would be to focus on residential development coupled with support for more local and independent businesses. This would help solve another problem, the lack of housing, which has led the council to propose building on our green belt.
Apartments could be attractive for people seeking to downsize, as well as for those working there. It is already very convenient for many facilities and services. There could be more pocket parks and trees, but also an emphasis on routes out to parks, allotments and countryside.
Such a city centre would also be more attractive for visitors and could help to sustain a variety of shops and businesses. There would need to be much clearer policies on the “night-time economy” (9pm to 5am vertical drinking, which is currently the main growth area) and to encourage day and early evening activity.
We need to make a bold shift away from the desire to turn our city centre over to “clone town” chain stores and to create a better balance between residential, business, recreation and shopping.
Coun Jillian Creasey, Green Party