New springboard for retail quarter on way

Carousel outside John Lewis Sheffield
Carousel outside John Lewis Sheffield

A fresh attempt will be made in the spring to get long delayed proposals for a retail quarter in Sheffield city centre on the move again.

Following a review of the project, the council will go back to the market place to seek a new development partner.

It’s the latest move in a saga to transform the area between Pinstone Street, Moorhead and Barkers Pool with a new or redeveloped John Lewis store at the heart.

The retail quarter was due to have been open by now under the name of Sevenstone in a deal with property company Hammerson.

After delays caused by the recession, the partnership fell through last year, with a legal agreement formally terminated on Christmas Eve. The council says it has already been approached by several potential developers and investment companies interested in taking up the reins.

Even so, the targeted completion date for the quarter is now 2019.

The strategy remains essentially the same, creating up to 800,000 sq ft of retail space, especially the type of big modern units that retailers say Sheffield lacks at the moment.

But the latest review will examine an updating of the Sevenstone model, which is several years old.

Council cabinet member Leigh Bramall said: “We are now looking forward, not back. We have been working tirelessly on plans for Sheffield’s New Retail Quarter to make sure that the project can be as flexible as possible at the outset.

“This is about much more than retail. It is about making sure that the New Retail Quarter helps to deliver a commercial centre for the city that generates business, a city with a bustling economy. It isn’t just about new shops, it is about creating the right infrastructure to support them - jobs, homes, office space, investment.”

The council believes that the offer of £45m from the Government - to be borrowed against a rise in business rates - will tip the balance in securing a developer for the retail quarter.

It also points to public works already being in place and most of the land having been assembled ready for development. One option remains the council starting the ball rolling itself until a development partner is secured.

Revised proposals will form part of a new masterplan for the city centre that is due to be announced in June. Already major retailers, developers, transport authorities, the universities and other organisations have been working with the council.