The £500 million redevelopment of Sheffield city centre has taken another important step forward as plans are submitted for a new set of buildings featuring shops, ‘boutique’ office space, a café, a courtyard garden and more than 50 apartments.
Proposals for Block B of the council’s Heart of the City II scheme, previously known as the Sheffield Retail Quarter and the successor to the Sevenstone project that stalled during the recession, have now been lodged with the authority’s planning department.
Covering a triangular site behind John Lewis between Pinstone Street, Cross Burgess Street and Charles Street, the block incorporates Laycock House, a late Victorian building which has survived virtually unchanged. Designs have been drawn up that would involve the complex being fully restored to offer five retail units and four townhouses.
In addition, a modern, mixed-used complex rising to eight storeys would be put up beside Laycock House, including retail, bar or café units on the first three floors. Fifty-two residential flats are envisaged on the upper levels, ranging from studios to three-bed homes. The offices, spanning three floors, are proposed on the corner of Pinstone Street and Charles Street.
But heritage campaigners are likely to object, as the council wants to knock down the old Athol Hotel – a mock Tudor-clad property dating from the 1880s – to clear the area.
A similar application was submitted earlier this month for Block C, which sits further down Pinstone Street towards The Moor and encompasses a place known as the ‘Pepper Pot' because of its distinctive shape. This would include more than 37,500 sq ft of Grade A offices.
Contractors are about to be sought to carry out demolition work and, if permission is granted quickly, construction could start in spring, aiming for completion by the end of 2020.
Designs for Block B show how the courtyard behind Laycock House would be opened up and revamped to form a ‘city garden’. A ground floor café would have tables in the outdoor spot.
In a heritage statement prepared as part of the application, the council admitted the Athol Hotel made a ‘limited contribution’ to the surrounding area. But, to justify bulldozing the premises, it said: “It is understood that the removal of these buildings is necessary to provide fit-for-purpose commercial and residential floorspace.”
Heart of the City II will bring shops, hotel rooms, Grade A workspaces, food and drink venues and leisure facilities on 1.5 million sq ft of land between Barker's Pool, The Moor and Wellington Street.
Blueprints have been produced by Leonard Design Architects and the council's partner, real estate firm Queensberry, is leading discussions with potential occupiers. A mixed-use approach, which shifts the focus from relying solely on shops as consumer habits change, has been adopted that will drive footfall and make the city centre more vibrant, it is thought.
Detailed plans for future stages – including a high-end food hall at the listed, Grade II* listed Leah's Yard on Cambridge Street – are expected to emerge at a later date. Traditional street patterns are being followed and John Lewis, which would have moved to a brand new department store in Sevenstone, is staying put in Barker's Pool.
The first Heart of the City created the Winter Garden, Millennium Gallery, Peace Gardens and the offices of St Paul's Place. The initial stage of its sequel, an £85m block that will provide a base for 2,700 HSBC workers on top of commercial units in a radically overhauled Charter Square, is on course to be finished in January.
Councillor Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for business and investment at Sheffield Council, said: “Submitting another planning application is a sign the Heart of the City II project is taking big leaps forward. We are grateful to members of the public and stakeholders for their feedback over the last few months as we have worked towards submission. We are confident these plans represent the best balance possible in terms of giving a new use to the much-loved Laycock House while also providing added economic opportunity and vibrancy to 21st century Sheffield, and reflect the very best of our city.”
Jon Munce, development director at Queensberry, said it was ‘an exciting time’. “Alongside the council, we are helping to shape the Sheffield of the future. In submitting the planning applications for blocks B and C, we are signalling our ability as a team to deliver for the city and its people.”
Visit https://bit.ly/2KyyWow to view or comment on the plans for Block B.