Moor cinema scheme gets a favourable review

Artist's impressions of planned new retail block and cinema below Debenhams on The Moor.
Artist's impressions of planned new retail block and cinema below Debenhams on The Moor.
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A PROPOSED reshaping of another large part of The Moor in Sheffield city centre, including the addition of a multi-screen cinema, is set for council approval next week.

Shops, cafes, takeaways and commercial units are also lined up for a new block below Debenhams department store.

Another of the features in the suggested development is a new pedestrian route from The Moor to Charter Square, with an escalator and glass lift to the surrounding units.

Behind the project is Scottish Widows Investment Property Trust, which has already seen construction start on the markets hall and new shops on the opposite side of the precinct, nearer Moorfoot.

Now it can expect council approval on Monday for another big phase of its development programme, which involves the demolition of buildings between The Moor and Charter Row, including the Rockingham Street multi-storey car park and Chesham House offices.

In their place, it is intended to create 11 units for uses such as shops, restaurants, cafes, hot food takeaways and commercial premises in a two-storey building with a multi-screen cinema on the third floor.

The main access for the cinema, which would be built as a polycarbonate ‘box’, to be illuminated at night, is designed to be from Charter Square

Scottish Widows are looking largely to leisure to complement the new markets and shops to help give the precinct a fresh lease of life. Previously they said the scheme potentially includes a ten-screen cinema and six restaurants.

When the application was submitted to the council, Ranald Phillips, director of agents Ashcroft, said: “Retailers and leisure outlets want to come to Sheffield and we are aiming to provide them with the right environment and facility to do this. If planning consent is granted, we hope to start on site in 2013.”

Details have met with the approval of council officers, who are recommending that councillors give the go-ahead.

They say the new building would be in keeping with its surroundings, and they do not believe the emphasis on leisure would jeopardise the proposed Sevenstone retail quarter, which is due to be built at the other side of Moorhead.

The multi-storey car park is “very rundown”, and its loss would not be keenly felt, as there are several short stay car parks in the area.

The overall approach, especially the idea of a cinema entrance off Charter Square and a new pedestrian route, is also being praised by an independent design panel.

But a public consultation exercise found at least one unhappy observer, who commented that the cinema was “basically a plastic box that will rely on lighting to generate any interest and is likely to become delapidated”.

Scottish Widows’ strategy represents a significant change of direction after earlier plans, by another company, for apartments and a multi-storey car park, failed to get off the drawing board.

Part of the scheme was a tower of apartments soaring 27 storeys above Charter Square.

In contrast to the much-delayed Sevenstone project, work on The Moor is gaining momentum.

Landscaping continues of the upper section of the precinct, and Scottish Widows, which have a long lease on much of the land on and around The Moor in a deal with the council, is preparing to replace the block at the corner of Moorhead and Furnival Gate, with a large store. Talks are being held with representatives of major fashion chains.

The Moor markets - a replacement for the rundown market hall at Castlegate - are due to open in November.

Scottish Widows say they are committed to reviving the commercial fortunes of The Moor, which was once renowned for its department stores, aiming to turn it into a local version of Oxford Street in London.