Anger over long wait for city centre retail scheme

Hammerson, the property developer behind the Victoria Gate (formally known as Eastgate Quarters) development in Leeds, has released information and images on the detailed designs of the scheme ahead of its public consultation this week. Artist impression shows John Lewis

Hammerson, the property developer behind the Victoria Gate (formally known as Eastgate Quarters) development in Leeds, has released information and images on the detailed designs of the scheme ahead of its public consultation this week. Artist impression shows John Lewis

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Pressure is mounting on Sheffield Council to take urgent action on plans for the redevelopment of the city centre.

Leading figures have warned ‘patience is running out’ with city bosses over failure to move forward more than a year after dropping Hammerson as developer of the planned £400 million Sevenstone city centre retail scheme.

The call comes following news leading city centre retailer John Lewis is to open a flagship store in Leeds’ new Victoria Gate by 2016 – delivered by Hammerson.

Department store bosses pulled out of a similar flagship tenancy in Sevenstone after the project stalled.

Sheffield Council has now been accused of allowing the city centre to fall behind.

Richard Wright, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce executive director, said: “We supported dropping Hammerson, but the council has taken far too long.

“The council said it was going to put it out to other developers, but it’s been more than a year and there seems to have been no movement.

“It’s gone dead. They are not saying anything and we need to be vocal about confidence in Sheffield to attract investment. We can’t sit and do nothing.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat MP for Sheffield Hallam, backed the call for action.

He said: “Patience is fast running out when it comes to the council doing something about redeveloping the city centre.

“The lack of urgency is holding Sheffield back, denying local people the new jobs and investment they deserve.

“Thanks to the City Deal there is more than £30 million on the table to help redevelop the city centre.

“What’s more, the economy is growing, business confidence is improving and other similar cities are seeing the kind of redevelopment we are seeking here.

“The council is flat out of excuses and it’s about time they got their act together.”

Simon Green, council executive director of place, said: “I appreciate people’s eagerness to have an update on the new retail quarter for Sheffield, but we will make an announcement when the time is right.

“We have been working with our partners at real pace over the last six months and continue to do so.

“All of this is coming to a point now and we should be in a position to make an announcement in the coming weeks.”

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