Leisure hopes slipping away at canal basin


ATTEMPTS to find a food and drink operator to help attract visitors to Victoria Quays, the old canal basin on the edge of Sheffield city centre, look like being abandoned after 15 years.

Ground floors of former terminal and grain warehouses near Park Square roundabout have remained empty, despite extensive marketing as a restaurant or bar. Now council permission is likely to be granted for offices.

Property agents say food and drink operators are deterred by a location too far from leisure circuits, a lack of convenient parking and traffic on Exchange Street being too much of a barrier.

The council has resisted turning the warehouses, both listed buildings and with apartments at upper levels, into offices as it seeks to make the quays more vibrant and attractive.

It won an appeal five years ago on the basis that Exchange Street would be easier to cross for pedestrians with the opening of the inner relief road. But the council says there is no money at present for pedestrian improvements. Councillors will be advised on Monday to approve an application from North Tamar Developments for three offices.

“Given the depressed market for food and drink uses, the fact that this site is disconnected from the city centre and suffers from low footfall, it seems unlikely that a food and drink use will be secured in the near future,” says a council report. “Given this, and the fact that the ground floor has been vacant for 15 years, it is considered to be unreasonable to continue resisting a change of use to offices.”

The report adds: “Whilst granting consent will not necessarily secure immediate occupation of the building, given the depressed economy, it will allow the applicant greater flexibility to market the site and increase the chances of securing an occupier.”

Application: 11/00718/CHU.