SHOPKEEPERS and residents reacted with disappointment today after a private development company pulled out of plans to redevelop a Sheffield district shopping centre.
Forward Investments was proposing a major regeneration scheme for the rundown centre of Darnall.
Sheffield Council has now stepped in to consider alternative ideas.
The Kent-based property company, which owns numerous retail units around the suburb, was proposing major renovations to bring the area up to scratch.
Despite the news Forward Investments’ project is no longer going ahead, the council insists regeneration is ‘still on the cards’.
But locals told The Star the area desperately needs improving - and now.
Dennis Barrett, aged 67, who runs second-hand shop Bargains For All, said Darnall had ‘really deteriorated’. “I know there have been cutbacks, and it’s just the way things are, but over the last 12 months I’ve really noticed it. On Saturday mornings it’s bare, there’s no-one here.
“All the buildings need doing up and the roads need sorting. There are never enough places for people to park.”
Rassam Ali, 21, who runs Rassam’s Dessert Bar, said: “It’s disappointing they had it planned and now they’ve pulled out. I think Darnall needs a youth club for youngsters to spend their spare time, instead of hanging around on the streets causing trouble. They’ve got nowhere to go.
“They also need to sort the roads out, it shouldn’t just be about shops.”
Pensioner Jean Barker, a retired fabrics worker, said elderly people were wary of venturing into Darnall because of gangs of youths.
“I’m only 66 but, if I have to come into Darnall, I get what I need and I go back home. I used to have a little walk around but now everyone’s too scared.
“There are shops up here that have been closed down for so long. There are empty buildings that could be made good use of.”
Jean’s niece Alison Barker, 36, said a large supermarket would help regenerate the suburb.
“We had Morrison’s, and older people used to meet there, but now we’ve only got the one at Catcliffe.
“A lot of older people don’t come here any more.
“When I was little I used to love coming to Darnall with my mum, but there’s nothing in Darnall now.”
A project team has been set up to work with traders, landowners and the community to explore new regeneration opportunities.
Coun Harry Harpham, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said: “Darnall is an important centre in need of support. The work of the project team is at a very early stage but will be instrumental in regeneration plans.
“These early proposals should start to take shape in the spring, and we will ensure the community can be engaged and involved throughout.”
Forward Investments were not available for comment.