Vision to transform Sheffield city centre?

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The vision has been laid out. Next comes six weeks of public consultation, then the decidedly tricky business of putting the strategy into practice.

Amid the continuing economic gloom, the latest masterplan for Sheffield city centre is being unveiled this week.

Pictured are views of The Moor and the new Market areas

Pictured are views of The Moor and the new Market areas

It encompasses ambitions ranging from thousands more homes, including more accommodation for families in the middle of the city, to a Supertram line to serve new shopping areas.

Hopes are expressed for revitalising the Central Library and Graves Gallery and the site of the Castle Markets and stepping up activity in the Cultural Industries Quarter.

Both universities are seen as key players in the future of the city centre over the next decade. Three distinct business districts are envisaged.

The list of ambitions is exhaustive, yet in the shorter term, much continues to depend on the proposed Sevenstone retail quarter, which has the potential to shape a large chunk of the city centre for generations.

The long delays continue to frustrate the council and business leaders, and this week’s assurance of “advanced” negotiations with developers Hammerson will no doubt be met with sighs and shrugs in many quarters.

The masterplan spells out a need for more big shops, such as the fashion outlets bound for Sevenstone, and the smaller independent ventures, some of which will find a home in the new markets complex on The Moor.

Despite frustrations and anxiety over Sevenstone, there is at least the sight of new buildings going up on The Moor, with the prospect of more to come.

Yet the latest guidelines reflect the changing nature of town and city centres as they compete with the internet, out-of-town retail developments and other towns and cities.

Increasingly, the emphasis will be on making Sheffield city centre a place to live, learn, work (especially in creative and digital sectors) and enjoy the cultural attractions.

The council has been working on getting the balance right, and the public can express their opinions at exhibitions in the Winter Garden tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday.

Boarded-up shops in parts of the city reflect the current hard times.

But council leader Julie Dore said the masterplan “is showing that Sheffield has ambitions, and it is showing that Sheffield is a place to invest, more so at time of austerity.”