SHEFFIELD Council has set a 2014 deadline for work to begin on the long-awaited Sevenstone retail development – to ensure the scheme can take advantage of a Government funding initiative.
Chief executive John Mothersole has been in ‘very productive’ talks with officials from developer Hammerson.
But he said work must begin within the next two years or risk losing the ability to borrow up to £33.8 million against future tax receipts under a Government scheme to help cover the cost.
Mr Mothersole said: “It’s very clear that there is no better time financially than the present to press ahead with the Sevenstone development.
“We are not going to wait forever for this scheme otherwise we will not be able to benefit from the Government scheme.
“The council has been clear with Hammerson that we need a 2014 start. The new retail quarter is needed as soon as possible and the resolve in the Town Hall remains firm to press ahead with this project.”
But Hammerson have not confirmed its position on when it would be willing to start work. Construction of Sevenstone has been repeatedly delayed over the last few years with the economic crisis blamed.
The project was put on hold in 2008.
Sevenstone will cover 20 acres, or 80,937 sq metres, equal to roughly half the size of the city’s Meadowhall shopping centre, and house about 100 shops.
But plans have been scaled down from the original scheme, which involved a double-deck ‘New Burgess Street’ shopping street and a relocated John Lewis store to the site of the old Central Fire Station, on Wellington Street.
John Lewis is now set to remain in its current building, which is to be refurbished, while the new shopping street is set to be on a single level.
Hammerson was unavailable for comment.
On its website the company said the Sevenstone scheme is set to be built between 2014 and 2016, and will cost £285 million to build, much less than the original £600 million scheme.