Work on the next phase of The Moor’s regeneration is soon to mean a new shopping, dining and cinema complex rising from the rubble.
Over the next few months the busy building site, which has left a glaring gap in part of the shopping parade, should be dominated by cranes putting together the new building.
It will house a flagship Primark, four other retailers, restaurants and the nine-screen picture house – following on from the relocation of the market, stores opening and upgrade of the street’s appearance.
For Ranald Philips, development manager for investors on The Moor, it has been one of the biggest challenges of a 40-year career.
He said: “People should see progress on phase two in the next couple of months – the work being focused on now is not very interesting for the general public to look at, they’ve already done a lot of work on the foundations for Primark for example.
“I think it will probably be a couple of months and we will see the cranes arrive on site.
“This has been the most challenging project I have worked on, because it has a number of developments each with their own challenges rather than just being a single project.
“We’ve had to bring it all together as a combination of regeneration and redeveloping while tying it in with the council’s aspirations – the relationship with the council has been crucial to what we are trying to achieve.”
Some shoppers have criticised phase one of The Moor’s regeneration as simply moving Castlegate to a new location, with new stores near the £18m market including TJ Hughes, Poundland, Iceland and toy store The Entertainer.
For most people it is not enough to prevent them from going to Meadowhall shopping centre instead.
Ranald said the vast majority of retail property in the city had been in the same hands for years – with developer Hammerson holding much before the company failed to deliver the £400 million Sevenstone retail quarter scheme.
Now the council proposes to purchase properties in the area between Pinstone Street, Moorhead and Barker’s Pool and seek a development partner for a different, long-awaited scheme.
Ranald, a director of specialist firm Ashcroft, added: “Retailers, understandably perhaps, were uncertain as to what was going to happen – they simply haven’t had the environment to move into. This is the first time the quality of offer they are interested in is being created.
“Fargate is very restricted in terms of shop size, the retail units in Meadowhall have got the space to offer the full range of goods.
“They’ve always said the new retail quarter will be targeting the more aspirational premium brands. Sheffield is unique in this country as it is the only major city which, apart from John Lewis, has no aspirational retailers.
“You maybe could include Fatface and Schuh on the list – but there’s no Ted Baker, Reiss, Jigsaw, names that every other city has a selection of. All those brands are represented in part in other cities, Sheffield is completely devoid of them. They just haven’t been given the environment.”
But The Moor will not be home to those luxury brands, if they materialise.
Hopes are pinned on it becoming a ‘destination’ with regular events, as well as returning the street to its glory days of a major high street mecca and boosting Sheffield’s night-time economy. The former Woolworths is being used by theatre company Theatre Delicatessen as a daytime arts cafe and for evening performances, festivals and debates.
Ranald added: “As far as the Moor is concerned our ambition is to have a very strong high street because this is not the environment for those premium brands.
“The Moor used to be one of Sheffield’s strongest retail sites, with Marks and Spencer, places like Woolworths, it had four department stores. We want to take it back to that with department stores, Primark, TJ Hughes and more mainstream fashion brands.
“The Moor especially just dies at 5.30pm and in today’s climate that is just not acceptable. Retailers thrive off a strong cultural offer, restaurants want to be where the shops are – we hope it will be as vibrant an evening destination as it will be a daytime one.
“The restaurants and the cinema will open until 11pm or 12pm most nights. I would love to see the shops also opening later but we have got to have the infrastructure in place first.”
The Moor Market, TJ Hughes, Iceland, Poundland, The Entertainer, Peacocks, Deichmann, a gym and two units, currently unfilled. Discussions are ongoing with an ‘outdoor activity’ retailer.
Flagship Primark store of 80,000 square foot, four other stores, nine-screen cinema run by Light Cinemas and seven restaurants – which so far include Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Bella Italia.
Ranald said: “We are in discussions with a number of restaurants. We want to be selective at this stage and the ambition is to bring in operators that are not known in Sheffield.
“In phase two there are also four new retail units and we are going under offer with one of them.”
It is hoped the shopping element of phase two will be completed by May 2016, and the cinema with restaurants by early 2017.
Three kiosks in the middle of The Moor are also to open by the early part of next year. One has been confirmed as coffee chain Caffe Nero.
Ranald added: “We’ve had interest in another and the last one I would love to be a locally based specialist.”
This includes the right hand side of The Moor, opposite Debenhams. Is expected to become home to mainstream fashion brands with a digital screen where the former MacDonald’s was. Ranald said ‘interesting discussions’ are under way.
It is intended that The Moor will eventually link with any new retail quarter via an upgraded Charter Square.
The main phases of work should be completed by the end of 2017.