Retail quarter '˜evolution' expected to satisfy the needs of key tenants

Councillors will be asked to give their backing to the '˜design principles' of Sheffield's £480 million new retail quarter next week.

Thursday, 25th August 2016, 08:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 24th August 2016, 16:54 pm
Sheffield Retail Quarter artist impression

The original outline planning application, submitted a year ago, will be discussed at a council meeting on Tuesday.

Normally, approval of an outline application would clear the way for a more detailed plan.

But because changes are expected to the scheme - development partner Queensberry Real Estate is carrying out a review of the project - the council intends to prepare a second outline application once the principles, such as the amount of floor space and the approach to transport, are given the go-ahead.

Detailed plans for the first phase of the development, new offices for HSBC on the site of the old Grosvenor House Hotel, are expected to be submitted in September.

Queensberry was brought on board earlier this year to lead negotiations with tenants, such as the vital ‘anchor’ retailer John Lewis.

A report to next week’s meeting says: “In recent months it has become clear that the outline proposals contained within the submitted planning applications are likely to change in response to the operational requirements of the key anchor tenants.

“In addition, the council has just appointed a new development partner, Queensbury, who are reviewing the masterplan and design for the whole scheme.

“Accordingly, officers understand it is likely that the masterplan will continue to evolve, resulting in the submission of a new suite of planning applications in 2017.”

But the report adds: “However, it is considered that much of the content of the current scheme is likely to be relevant and provide a basis for the evolution of the proposals for the Sheffield Retail Quarter.”

Councillors are being asked to offer a ‘resolution to endorse the principles of the submitted scheme’, such as the ‘quantum of floorspace, design, heritage impacts and transport implications, while recognising the scheme is likely to evolve in response to changing operator and occupier demand, the needs of the city centre and the outstanding concerns of the local planning authority’.

The report saus the ‘inadequacy’ of Sheffield city centre’s retail offer was recognised over two decades ago in a 1994 study.

In 1998, the regeneration of the city centre became a key council aim, with a masterplan published in December 2000 highlighting ‘a lack of quality shopping, particularly of high price fashion’, as well as warning that ‘continuing development in competing centres that will make them more attractive than Sheffield’.

In 2001, Hammerson was selected as the council’s development partner and £600m plans were eventually submitted in October 2005, with the outline application granted a year later.

That scheme - Sevenstone - never came to fruition and in 2013 it was announced that Hammerson was withdrawing as the council’s development partner. The Sheffield Retail Quarter proposals have since been drawn up.