PLANS for a flagship new John Lewis store as part of the long-awaited Sevenstone retail quarter are back on – after a summit meeting between Hammerson and Sheffield Council.
Negotiations have included identifying a new location for John Lewis, to replace the Barker’s Pool store.
And a deadline has been set for Hammerson to commit to build the project to ensure it can take advantage of a Government funding scheme worth £30 million.
‘Very positive’ discussions took place in a bid to kick-start the stalled development, the council said.
Sheffield’s £600m development has been on hold since 2009 with boarded-up buildings - bought under compulsory purchase orders - now in deteriorating condition.
Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for business, skills and development, said: “Sheffield Council is working to kick-start the regeneration of the city centre through the Sevenstone development.
“It has stalled in recent years, in part due to the continued weakness of the national economy.”
Coun Bramall said the council and Hammerson hope to benefit by up to £30m from a Government deal allowing them to receive business rates in advance.
He said: “The council has worked on an innovative scheme which will allow us to use our shortly-to-be-confirmed powers to accelerate delivery of the New Retail Quarter by injecting funds into the development.
A further meeting is to take place next month between the council, Hammerson and John Lewis to continue discussions.
Sheffield Council leader Coun Julie Dore said a deadline has been set for Hammerson to commit to the development. She said: “There is an agreement which has been reached by all parties to commit to the development by a date in the coming year, ensuring we receive full benefit from the Government finance scheme.”
Under previous plans to substantially reduce the cost of Sevenstone, John Lewis had been due to remain in its current store, which would have been revamped.
But Sheffield Council chief executive John Mothersole has said the Government funding offer has encouraged a return to a more ambitious scheme. The original plans saw John Lewis being moved to the site of the old Wellington Street fire service headquarters, which is currently a car park.
Peter Cole, from Hammerson, said: “While all parties remain committed to finding a solution for Sheffield, the current economic environment has clearly impacted retailers’ ability to commit to new schemes, so it should not be a surprise there are no easy answers.”
The news comes as Hammerson announced it is going ahead with a £1bn scheme in Croydon, with construction to start in 2015.