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Next store battle victory

Artist's impression of proposed Next Home store at Meadowhall.

Artist's impression of proposed Next Home store at Meadowhall.

Work is to start ‘as soon as possible’ on a new Next Home and Garden store after the retailer won a battle against Sheffield Council’s refusal of planning permission.

The store, proposed for derelict land off Vulcan Road, near Meadowhall, is due to open by the end of 2014.

Some 125 jobs will be created by the fashion chain - and The Star can reveal up to 90 more people will be hired to build the development.

Sheffield Council, which refused planning permission last year, spent more than £31,000 defending its decision when developer British Land appealed to a public inquiry.

The council unsuccessfully argued the £10 million store would have a negative impact on city centre retail.

But Planning Inspector David Wildsmith dismissed the objection - along with the council’s claim that a suitable alternative site is available in the city centre.

The new development will also include a Sytner car dealership and a Costa coffee drive-through branch, which will create a further 25 jobs.

A British Land spokesman said: “We are delighted the Planning Inspector has agreed with our appeal and granted planning permission for a Next Home and Garden store, a car dealership and a Costa coffee shop at Vulcan Road, following the public inquiry.

“This decision will allow us to get on site and proceed with construction as soon as possible, with completion anticipated by the end of 2014.

“We look forward to bringing more than 150 jobs and much-needed investment to this part of Sheffield.

“British Land is committed to Sheffield and its future and will continue to support retail development, employment and investment in this dynamic and vibrant city.”

Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, described the appeal decision as ‘welcome news’.

He said: “It’s the right decision and is compatible with the strategy put forward by the city’s retail forum. The Next Home store is a unique offer and we need areas of distinction.

“From the chamber’s point of view, this development will not stop us working very hard to help develop the vibrant city centre the city and region needs.”

Next chairman Lord Wolfson strongly criticised Sheffield Council for refusing planning permission.

He said: “For too long Meadowhall has been blamed for the city centre’s failure. It’s a convenient excuse, but I’m afraid it won’t wash.

“Just look at the other great industrial cities of Britain. Manchester built its Arndale Centre extension despite the presence of a massive out-of-town Trafford Centre.”

Sheffield Hallam MP and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg criticised the cost to the council of defending the Next appeal.

He said: “Only Sheffield’s Labour councillors could think spending vast sums of local taxpayers’ money on a legal battle against the creation of up to 120 new jobs is a good idea.

“This money should be used for frontline services such as libraries or leisure facilities. Instead it is being stuffed into the pockets of highly paid lawyers and consultants.

“What’s more, this kind of anti-business attitude sends out a damaging message to any other potential investors looking for places to invest in and create new jobs.”

The decision to allow Next to go ahead sets a precedent allowing ‘distinctive’ retailers to open around the Meadowhall area.

Swedish furniture giant Ikea has applied for permission for a store on nearby Sheffield Road.

Les Sturch, Sheffield Council’s director of regeneration, said: “This was never about not wanting the Next Home and Garden development but whether Next Home and Garden should be in the city centre or out of town.

“The question was not if this development should be built, but rather where it should be built.

“The planning policies that the council has in place are clear, and the council followed them. This has been acknowledged by the inspector.

“The council believes that a thriving commercial and civic city centre is key to growing the wider economy, and the city centre is often the first priority for suitable new business.

“Next’s timescales and size requirements meant that the city centre location was deemed unsuitable, and permission has been granted for the out of town site.

“The inspector has confirmed that this development will not have a negative impact on the city centre.

“Sheffield Council strongly supports business, and is keen for big developments and big brands to come to Sheffield. We will now move on and welcome Next as it grows in Sheffield.”

 

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