Column: Retail Quarter great for region

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After a false start or two, Sheffield people can finally start to have confidence that the long- proposed Sheffield Retail Quarter development is moving from drawing board to reality, and not before time.

First mooted more than two decades ago as a result of growing concern over the decline of Sheffield City Centre from the 1980s, the decision by international bank HSBC to become the first anchor tenant of the £480 million development scheme located in the area between Devonshire Green and the Moor Gateway is a huge and welcome expression of confidence in the scheme, and will surely encourage more big names to follow suit.

It is also great news for the city, ensuring one of the region’s largest white collar employers remains in our region.

Construction on HSBC’s new home will commence early this year, and the bank is expected to move into its new home in 2019, by which time around 80 per cent of the development is scheduled to be complete.

The SRQ – with its additional 60,000 square feet of retail space – will comprise new shops, restaurants, cafes, bars and landscaped public space, and is likely to become one of the city’s most sought-after places to work. The entire project is due to be completed by 2021.

More importantly, the development of SRQ will hopefully encourage tens of thousands of people from Sheffield, Sheffield City Region and further afield back into the heart of town and reposition the city as a shopping and entertainment destination to rival Manchester and Leeds.

Nabarro recently interviewed around two dozen people in the streets of Sheffield about the importance of SRQ and, without, exception everybody we talked to was positively enthusiastic about the development.

It is clear that the continued regeneration of our city centre, the expanded services, facilities and venues it will provide and – just as importantly – the jobs it will bring are all seen as a big step in the right direction.

The development of the Retail Quarter is just one piece of the puzzle. The decision to route HS2 into Sheffield city centre, Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, the Digital Campus, the New Era Chinatown development and the very exciting plans for Meadowhall – all bode well for Sheffield’s future as it strives to cement its position as a driver (and beneficiary) of the Northern Powerhouse. There is a lot to be positive about regarding Sheffield’s future, right now.

n Martin McKervey is a partner atNabarro LLP