‘Confidence in the city centre must be protected’

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News: Sheffield Telegraph online 24-hours a day.

SHEFFIELD City Council says it is determined to protect the city centre - at a time when it is such a fragile state and the future of the proposed Sevenstone retail quarter is in the balance.

If permission is granted for a big out-of-town retail development, not only would it jeopardise the retail quarter, and especially the chance of securing a deal with John Lewis for a bigger and better store, but it would also open the door to other developers eyeing the east end, putting further pressure on the city centre.

Swedish giants Ikea are known to be eyeing a location near Meadowhall.

Many shoppers would welcome the opportunity of a Sheffield Ikea instead of driving to Leeds or Nottingham, but it would present the council with another dilemma.

Does it opt for investment, jobs and prestige or stick by policies that curb any expansion at Meadowhall in favour of standing up for the city centre?

Next and British Land were unable to persuade the council to relax its approach.

The council suggested a location on the edge of the city centre that could accommodate a big Next home furnishing store - the small retail park off Eyre Street that currently accommodates Mothercare and Staples. Next said the site was unsuitable.

One of the objectors to the Next application was Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, which has started to build the markets on The Moor and is looking to redevelop large areas of land around the precinct.

It, too, warned that investor confidence in the city centre would be threatened by out-of-town developments such as the one proposed by Next.

The council says it is looking at the bigger picture - the regeneration of the city as opposed to any single retail store.