More talks in Sheffield as shops deal remains elusive

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News: Sheffield Telegraph online 24-hours a day.

THE talking goes on over the future of Sheffield’s long-delayed Sevenstone retail quarter.

Developers Hammerson – under pressure for months to finally press the button on the scheme to regenerate the area between Barkers Pool, Pinstone Street and Moorhead – have now been given a deadline by the council.

Otherwise, the authority will look at other options, with or without Hammerson.

It was announced last week that Hammerson has team up with property company Westfield to redevelop the retail centre of Croydon, which raises the possibility of a similar approach to manage the risk in Sheffield.

Amid all the frustration, the council continues to believe progress is being made, and it can point to the latest positive comments of John Lewis whose store will be at the heart of any successful outcome.

Veering over the years between a new store (initially on the site of the former Wellington Street fire station) or a refurbishment and extension of the existing premises, it has confirmed that it is looking at a new location.

This could be Wellington Street, although the whole retail quarter scheme has changed so much in the wake of the recession that other ideas will be on the table.

Will it ever happen? The driving forces in favour are the studies that continue to indicate that the city does not have the big modern shops of its competitors and, more recently, the council has secured £30m through a Government borrowing scheme that it hopes will tip a £300m balance.

At the same time, after so many setbacks, the sceptics have plenty of ammunition.

Hopes of a deal are now in the hands of Hammerson and John Lewis.

Can they each get what they want out of a recalibrated Sevenstone?

Council leader Julie Dore says: “There is an agreement which has been reached by all parties to commit to the development by a date in the coming year, ensuring we receive full benefit from the Government finance scheme.”

Another meeting between all parties is due to be held next month.

John Lewis says it is working closely with the council and Hammerson to find a viable solution.

The council is not revealing the deadline.

Even if a deal is agreed, the planning process will have to start again, and it would be at least a year before any construction.

Meanwhile, the gloom hangs over a large part of the city centre.