Sheffield Council has agreed to pay out up to £450,000 for specialist lawyers in connection with the city’s planned retail quarter.
Reports on the decision to appoint advisors, which can be implemented from today, say the council is in negotiation with a ‘major international commercial tenant’ planning to lease an office development in the £480m mixed use scheme.
It says specialist help is required because it is an ‘extremely legally complex matter’ that needs to be advanced or completed within months.
Alternative options considered were a procurement exercise or recruiting a specialist in-house legal team but because of the timescales and temporary nature of advice needed it was decided that would not offer ‘value for money.’
The report, decided by council leader Coun Julie Dore, said the ‘estimated value of the contract is £450,000’ but this is understood to be an upper limit if matters should become particularly intricate.
Outline plans for the retail quarter were submitted just this month and negotiations to choose a development partner are still ongoing, with a firm expected to be chosen by the end of the year.
A council spokesman said money needed to pay for the legal advice would come from the authority’s capital budget and not its revenue pots which are subject to Government cuts.
He added: “The retail quarter project is a £480 million scheme that requires specialist legal services to deal with the property development process.
“Ultimately, and very importantly, these costs will be recovered through the returns to be generated from the development process and delivery of the retail quarter.”
The retail quarter replaces the Sevenstone scheme, which failed to come to fruition and was eventually shelved after years of delays.
It will be based around an extension from Fargate and link with The Moor.