Sheffield’s chance to showcase itself to the globe by hosting this year’s World Snooker Championship will be hindered by scaffolding on one of the city’s main shopping arcades, a trader has claimed.
Work to complete a £4.6 million scheme on Chapel Walk is continuing and has left the arcade covered in scaffolding for the last two years.
The world’s top 32 snooker players will battle it out at the Crucible Theatre from April 20 to May 6 and Chapel Walk forms a key passageway to Fargate.
But Carl Dunne, owner of the Cards and Gift shops on Chapel Walk, said trade was down £3,000 in March compared to 12 months ago and added he feared the presence of beggars and unsightly scaffolding would divert visitors away.
He said: “Sheffield thrives on the snooker so I think we are letting ourselves down as a city, especially for the people who are spending money to come here and stay here.
“This is the biggest cut-through and they are just going to be met with this mess and they’re not going to want to come."
Planning permission to turn part of Fargate Court – the offices above Paperchase and jeweller H Samuel on Fargate – into nearly 50 student apartments was approved by the council in May 2017.
But the site remains shrouded in white tarpaulin and scaffolding that also extends along Chapel Walk, which has its entrance next to Paperchase.
Christmas lights, originally put up in 2017, also still run the length of the arcade.
The scaffolding is due to come down in June and Sheffield Council said one idea – which depends on finances – being considered was whether Chapel Walk can be temporarily covered in brightly coloured umbrellas to act as a multicoloured canopy.
But Mr Dunne said the arcade had become a hub for beggars and the scaffolding was leaving it in darkness.
He added: “We’re all on our backsides. It’s getting worse and people are now using it as a toilet. Claire’s Accessories have gone and I understand Superdrug are also looking to relocate.
“I am living in fear. I am thinking that come the end of this year, I don't think I am going to be here that’s how bad it is.
“We are hearing more and more that people don't want to come down here because they are being lynched by beggars.”
Sheffield Council said it was ‘very disappointed' by the amount of time it had taken to complete the scheme.
On a tour of the city centre, Coun Mazher Iqbal, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for business and investment, said: “There were issues with the building having asbestos.
“Once completed, we will have 80 people living there.”
The Star has contacted developer Home Office 3 for comment.