BUILDING work on the Sevenstone retail quarter could begin as early as next year - with almost £300 million being spent on the biggest single development in Sheffield city centre since World War Two.
The scheme to transform shopping in Sheffield will be smaller than originally planned, and money for the flagship scheme has been more than halved.
But Sheffield Council chief executive John Mothersole said: “Sevenstone will still be an enormous scheme.
“While schemes like this are being scrapped elsewhere in the country due to the economic climate, Sheffield will still be getting a new retail quarter to be proud of.”
Construction should begin before April 2014, and could start next year.
The first shops are set to be open by 2016.
It is hoped the project will change the face of Sheffield city centre, and lure shoppers back from out-of-town sites like Meadowhall.
City centre shoppers today told The Star they were looking forward to the scheme taking shape.
Adam Woolley, aged 21, of Hunters Bar, who is originally from Manchester, said new development had helped transform his home city - and said he believes Sevenstone will make a big difference to Sheffield, too.
“Some parts of Sheffield city centre are quite nice but better shops are needed,” he said. “The project will mean people don’t need to go to Meadowhall.”
In its latest trading statement to the stock market, developer Hammerson said Sevenstone should net £24m a year in rent once complete.
The firm admitted the shopping complex will be 20 per cent smaller than first proposed.
And £285 million, not the £600m originally intended, will be spent.
The Star understands the John Lewis department store will now stay in its existing building, rather than moving to newly-built premises.
And a new shopping street will have a single, rather than double, level of shops between Moor Head and City Hall.
But the company said: “We have a new development agreement with Sheffield Council and now have control of the development land.
“Sevenstone has outline planning consent, some of the buildings within the scheme have detailed consent, and we are working closely with principal stakeholders, such as John Lewis, to progress the project.”