Sheffield councillors called for access to the city centre to be as easy as possible as they approved the design principles of the new retail quarter.
While accepting that the huge development would bring more cars into already busy streets, they urged officers to consider the needs of all who use the new shops, restaurants and offices.
Members of the planning and highways committee were speaking before they gave a ‘planning endorsement’ to the outline application for the retail quarter, submitted in August last year.
As the scheme has changed in the past 12 months, a new outline plan is likely to be submitted.
But the endorsement means much of the hard work on the overall layout of the retail quarter, transports and environmental assessments and heritage work will not have to be done again.
At today’s meeting (August 31), Coun Ian Auckland said everyone was keen to see the retail quarter succeed, but it was important people both in and outside Sheffield saw the city centre as easy to get to.
“One of the problems we have in the city centre is convincing people the accessibility is simple,” he said. “We have got to make it as easy to walk about as possible.”
Coun Jack Clarkson queried the number of parking spaces in the new scheme, asking whether there would be enough to attract customers in from outside Sheffield.
“It’s a real concern for people visiting the city,” he said.
The current plans include a maximum of 2,250 spaces in a new multi-storey car park, not including on-street bays and other existing city centre car parks.
Highways officer Mark Simons said all nationally-accepted techniques had been used to calculate the amount of parking needed.
On the subject of heritage, Coun Dianne Hurst asked what was being done to protect the grade II-listed Citadel building in Psalter Lane.
Planning officer Dinah Hope said the building did not form part of the retail quarter application, but already had planning permission to be refurbished and brought into retail use.
And Coun Roger Davison asked whether the redesign of Charter Square, which would remove the link between Wellington Street and Charter Row, would cause extra congestion.
Mr Simons said traffic modelling suggested Granville Square roundabout, on the A61 to the south of the railway station, would probably be busier, but ‘it’s a price for attracting people to the Sheffield Retail Quarter and improving the retail offer’.
A further outline application is likely to be submitted next year. A detailed application for phase one of the retail quarter, including a new office block on the site of the Grosvenor House Hotel, is expected in September.
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