Metamorphosis of The Moor

EVEN more of Sheffield city centre is likely to end up looking like a building site this year.

In particular the demolition and construction teams are expected to be busy on both sides of The Moor.

Already much of the area is looking forlorn as it awaits its new lease of life – but the signs are there.

Land between the shopping precinct and Arundel Gate has been cleared ready for the new markets and work has started on a multi-storey car park.

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Boarded-up shops facing The Moor are awaiting the bulldozer as part of the strategy by developer RREEF.

Meanwhile, another big demolition job is lined up on the other side of the precinct. The Sixties block below Debenhams is due to come down in 2008, along with the Chesham House office block and Rockingham Gate car park at the back.

They will be replaced by more modern and bigger shops, with offices above, on The Moor, and a tower of apartments facing Charter Row.

Across Charter Square, the New Retail Quarter is due to continue its remorseless advance.

Much of the preliminary work has been largely unseen, notably the process of acquiring scores of properties. Developer Hammerson will probably discover in March whether its Compulsory Purchase Order has been wholly successful.

For more than a year, the considerable job – the cost is 14m – of diverting underground cables and pipes has been going on.

Some demolition has started. The Trafalgar and Kangaroo works have been demolished to make way for a multi-storey car park serving the proposed John Lewis store.

And some construction has begun. A replacement fire service headquarters for the one in Wellington Street is scheduled for completion by the autumn.

Then attention will turn to knocking down the existing fire HQ and it is likely that the Grosvenor Hotel block will also start to come down.

The timetable envisages a new and bigger John Lewis store being ready for business in the run-up to Christmas 2011.

Could the NRQ be knocked off course by the credit crunch? The general belief is that Hammerson has already invested many millions in the project and is firmly committed to Sheffield as one of a series of similar developments across the country. In addition it has such deep pockets that it has the capacity to avoid borrowing money at high interest rates.

Similarly, another big scheme in the city centre, the replacement of the former NUM headquarters next to the City Hall with offices, is backed by another financial heavyweight, Wilson Bowden.

Expect to see Arthur Scargill's old headquarters start to crumble early this year.

And the construction teams will be kept busy in 2008 on the Heart of the City programme between the Peace Gardens and Arundel Gate.

The St Paul's tower of apartments will go up and up to become the city centre's tallest building – and the second office block and the casino and multi-storey car park will take shape.

Much of the development over the past year had been around the fringes of the city centre – and this is expected to continue in 2008.

Hotel developers are suddenly homing in on Sheffield. Construction has already started on a Premier Travel Inn, along with offices, at Moorfoot, overlooking the inner ring road, and a Jury's Inn, overlooking Furnival Gate roundabout, is being built just along from the new fire station.

The building of two more hotels, a Crown Plaza and a Holiday Inn Express, is scheduled to start this year, next to the Holiday Inn Royal Victoria.

The long-awaited digital campus – offices for high-tech business – will take shape along Sheaf Street, near the rail station. Another office block is to be built on the old Sheaf Market site.

Sheffield University and Hallam University will continue their ambitious construction programmes.

Completion of the the northern section of the inner relief road, between Penistone Road and the Wicker, is attracting developers, with more offices and apartments on the way.

The biggest development is at West Bar, where developer Castlemore has been given the council go-ahead. .