Sheffield city centre retail quarter won’t open til 2015 ... at the earliest

An early artist's imopression of the Sevenstone retail quarter.   View D: View from the new square in the heart of Sevenstone. With New Burgess Street to the right, the City Hall can also be seen beyond the steps on Cambridge Street to the left. From left, block 5 designed by Foreign Office; block 6 designed by BDP; block 1 designed by BDP; block 2 at the back designed by ACME; block 3 designed by Alford Hall Monaghan and Morris and block 4 designed by Hawkins and Brown.
An early artist's imopression of the Sevenstone retail quarter. View D: View from the new square in the heart of Sevenstone. With New Burgess Street to the right, the City Hall can also be seen beyond the steps on Cambridge Street to the left. From left, block 5 designed by Foreign Office; block 6 designed by BDP; block 1 designed by BDP; block 2 at the back designed by ACME; block 3 designed by Alford Hall Monaghan and Morris and block 4 designed by Hawkins and Brown.
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THE Sevenstone new retail quarter will not be open for business until 2015 at the earliest, it was revealed today.

If the project - a massive scheme to transform shopping in the city centre - had not been hit by the recession it would be preparing to open its door to its first customers.

The beleaguered project has been hit by a series of delays - the latest of which has been caused by completing legal agreements and other work behind the scenes.

The announcement is the first time the council has given a date for when the project is set for completion.

Sheffield Council chief executive John Mothersole revealed it will be two or two-and-a-half years before construction of the £600 million scheme begins.

But the project is to reach a significant milestone in the next few months as compulsory purchase orders are completed, Sheffield Council said today.

Mr Mothersole said: “All landowners will receive a letter at the start of July notifying them that compulsory purchase orders are being completed - but there are then a lot of issues that still need to be dealt with behind the scenes before the project can start.

“The actual cranes won’t arrive on site for another two to two-and-a-half years because negotiations have to take place with landowners about what compensation they will be paid under the compulsory purchase orders, and the developer, Hammerson, needs to ensure the original scheme doesn’t need any final tweaking.

“It is likely to be 2015 before the development opens.”

But Mr Mothersole added: “Major retail schemes across the country have stalled or gone through the same processes of review as Sheffield’s has.

“We are going to be one of the first schemes out of the traps as the economy recovers.”

Hammerson has just confirmed an agreement with Sheffield Council to ensure the scheme can progress.

The £600 million project has been on hold since 2008 due to the recession and proposals have been scaled-back.

The ‘project delivery’ agreement follows a decision by Hammerson to invest £10 million towards completing compulsory purchase orders - CPOs - for the development site, which expire in July.

The cash replaces Government funding which was scrapped. Sheffield Council is also borrowing £10 million towards the CPOs.

Coun Helen Mirfin-Boukouris, Sheffield Council cabinet member for business, jobs and growth, said: “We have been committed to this scheme since its inception and are now driving it forward, creating jobs, opportunities and economic growth for Sheffield.”

The development, between The Moor, Barker’s Pool and Pinstone Street, has been reduced in size but Sheffield Council said it will ‘still achieve what was originally intended’ and consist of a ‘retail-led mixed use development with an anchor department store’.

Changes to the scheme involve John Lewis department store remaining in its current building, which is set to be refurbished, and the planned New Burgess Street shopping street which is set to run through the heart of the new development is due to involve a single deck of shops rather than stores on two levels.

Hammerson project director Richard Brown said: “Formalising the development agreement is the latest milestone for the scheme and is a fundamental part of the project’s delivery.

“Following months of hard work, it demonstrates commitment from both sides to the continued regeneration of the city centre.”