Sheffield retail quarter progress hope

Artist's impression of the latest parts of the Sevenstone new retail quarter scheme for Sheffield.
Artist's impression of the latest parts of the Sevenstone new retail quarter scheme for Sheffield.

Further talks are to take place today about the future of Sheffield’s Sevenstone retail quarter – after developer Hammerson announced construction dates for a rival scheme in Leeds.

Sheffield Council, which has already issued a series of ultimatums asking the property company to commit to the scheme, hopes the latest discussions will prove decisive, The Star understands.

Meanwhile, Hammerson has submitted a detailed planning application for its Eastgate Quarters scheme in Leeds, which include a ‘flagship’ John Lewis store – and said construction will start in 2014 if approved.

News of the Leeds scheme – as the future of Sheffield’s project remains undecided – was greeted with dismay by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

The Sheffield Hallam MP said: “This is yet further evidence of weak leadership from Labour councillors in the Town Hall.

“Instead of allowing Sheffield to be held to ransom they should show some backbone and invite other developers to look at delivering the Sevenstone project. Given that there are an estimated 1,000 new jobs on the line, it is vital that we see progress sooner rather than later.”

The Star understands there has been progress in Leeds because it has a ‘bigger city centre’ and higher rents, meaning a ‘better return’ for Hammerson. But the company will be allowed to borrow £30 million for Sevenstone from future business rates under a deal between Sheffield Council and the Government.

John Mothersole, Sheffield Council chief executive, said: “I think our partners in Sevenstone, Hammerson, would agree that we have a good scheme that is now viable because of the innovative deal between ourselves and the Government.

“As we’ve said before, we’d rather do it with Hammerson but we won’t wait forever. The question left is whether it is with Hammerson or without them.”

The result of today’s talks is unlikely to be known until tomorrow at the earliest.

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