‘Nothing new’ in empty shops plan, Sheffield chiefs say

Leigh Bramall from Sheffield Council
Leigh Bramall from Sheffield Council
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A call from Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to bring empty buildings back into use has fallen flat with local council chiefs - who say the work is already underway.

Sheffield Hallam MP Mr Clegg announced yesterday that he wants to see abandoned buildings given temporary uses, rather than leaving them empty, after visiting a project in Berlin.

He said it was a ‘chronic problem’ in the north which left areas ‘blighted’ - highlighting Castlegate and the new retail quarter in Sheffield as sites which are now languishing.

A working group is now to be formed to investigate how more vacant buildings in northern cities can be brought back into use, with findings presented to Mr Clegg in January.

The initiative came about after a pitch at the Deputy Prime Minister’s Northern Futures summit.

But Sheffield Council said it has been working on the problem ‘for some time’ as part of its city centre strategy.

Coun Leigh Bramall, cabinet member for business, highlighted Birds Yard, Chapel Walk, and the old Woolworths store on The Moor as examples of success. A new scheme is to be announced soon to act as a ‘one-stop shop’ for entrepreneurs.

He added: “We would welcome a dialogue with Government to see if there is any practical role they can play to help remove potential blockages, instead of just talking about it.

“While we welcome Nick Clegg’s announcement, what he is saying is nothing new.”