Fresh masterplan for next phase of Sheffield's new 'heart of the city' expected soon

A fresh masterplan for the next phase of Sheffield's new retail quarter is to be revealed early next year - and the multi-million pound scheme has been given a different name.

Saturday, 25th November 2017, 1:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 8:20 am
An artist's impression from the outline planning application in 2015

Sheffield Council is now calling the development 'Heart of the City Phase 2', linking it with the previous regeneration project that brought the Winter Garden, Millennium Gallery, Peace Gardens and the offices, restaurants and shops of St Paul's Place.

The first phase of the scheme - a £90m block for HSBC that also includes some retail units - is well under way on the site of the old Grosvenor House Hotel, but more buildings are planned between the Charter Square site and Barker's Pool.

An artist's impression from the outline planning application in 2015

Nalin Seneviratne, director of city centre development, said the council, along with its partner Queensberry Real Estate, had 'reviewed what the scheme needs' as shoppers' habits alter, and that bosses are 'responding positively' to the 'changing needs for office and commercial space'.

A new masterplan is expected to be presented early in 2018, with detailed planning applications for the next phase submitted in spring and construction starting in 2019. A completion date of 2022/23 has been set.

"We have started to call the scheme Phase 2 of Heart of the City. The change in working title reflects the evolution of the project over the last three years. While retail remains a centralelement, we recognise that so much more is required to create a truly sustainable new quarter in the heart of Sheffield," said Mr Seneviratne in a report.

'Strong leisure and cultural elements' will be needed along with stores, he said. Consultations had indicated Sheffield residents wanted a development 'rooted in the city’s unique character' that 'offers opportunity for all sorts of activity.'

An artist's impression from the outline planning application in 2015

The full construction cost for the quarter was previously put at £350 million, but this is also under review, according to the report, which goes before a meeting next week.

"We are now receiving interest from organisations interested in buying completed phases as an investment and we are also receiving offers from organisations interested in taking on part of the development. In addition, interest is being received from retailers now that they can see physical progress on site."

The project will cement Sheffield as the 'experience retail' centre of the region, said Mr Seneviratne - an approach likely to appeal to John Lewis, which the council hopes will become the development's main tenant in a revamped department store. The firm has been opening reconfigured stores elsewhere which offer experiences, such as beauty treatments, food classes and events, rather than just things to buy. However, John Lewis has still not publicly committed to a new Sheffield store.

"We have been reviewing our plans in the light of a rapidly changing retail environment. The leisure component of schemes has become more mportant as shopping behaviours and needs have changed. This can clearly be seen by the plans for the expansion of Meadowhall with more leisure and food and beverage offers."

Mr Seneviratne added: "Acting as a hub for the existing and developing retail provision on Fargate, The Moor and Division Street the scheme is to deliver modern stores to attract new retailers to the city and allowing others to expand. The proposals will significantly extend and complement the city retail offer. Different streets will have different characteristics to maximise appeal and the proposals are to include the introduction of some premium brands and new brands to Sheffield.

"The role of digital infrastructure and the internet are to be fully utilised creating a physical retail development 'from the internet up'. This is not just an exaggeration. We have a genuine opportunity to create, through this development, a city centre wired for the 21st century. The tenant mix will aim to optimise the spend available from the catchment population while delivering on current gaps in fashion, health and beauty and catering and closing the gap for higher end aspirational retailing."

He admitted the overall project had been subject to 'many years of delay'. Plans for the original scheme, called Sevenstone, were approved more than 10 years ago - but the recession hit and the developer Hammerson dropped out in 2013. The council then started drawing up its own vision for the retail quarter.