Sheffield city centre’s future up for debate

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Boosting tourism and extending Sheffield’s tram would develop the city centre, residents say, as its future role comes up for debate again.

Councillors are due to test the economic assumptions that Sheffield Council makes for the city centre tomorrow - with officers, experts and private sector representatives giving evidence to a scrutiny committee.

It comes just after the Sheffield 2035 report compiled by Sheffield First- which aimed to create a vision of the city in 21 years - was revealed at a town hall summit two weeks ago.

Tomorrow’s committee uses the former Sheffield 2020 report as background - and the document says that ‘many people who live in or close to the city only use the city centre on rare occasions’.

It stresses how important it is that the city’s functions, education, work, relaxation and shopping, attract people of all generations.

Coun Cate McDonald, chair of the economic and environmental wellbeing scrutiny and policy development committee, said: “We want councillors to have an opportunity to challenge the assumptions that underpin a lot of the strategic work the council is undertaking. There are key questions such as are we making the right assumptions about the way retail is going with more online shopping?”

Star readers said more affordable homes and fewer cars in the city centre would make a difference.

Resident Mike Halsey said: “I’d hurry up with the city centre shops project, extend the tram to Ecclesall Road, Woodseats and Northern General and build affordable homes for residents in the city centre, not just students.

“I’d also pedestrianise more of the city centre.”

Jonathan Turner added: “I read an article about Sheffield possibly being the most underrated city in England.

“Apparently a higher percentage of students stay here than any other city. I’ve also read Sheffielders are the happiest people in the country, we have amazing countryside and The New York Times described us as the real ale capital of the world.

“Why doesn’t the council focus on this and try to get more people or tourists into the city, then use the money generated from that to make improvements?”

How we live, work and play in our city centre

Sheffield’s festivals and green spaces are well used by local people, the council committee report says.

A key question in the document is also whether the city centre needs more independent retail businesses or larger national chains.

And it points out that Sheffield has ‘considerably less’ in employment terms than in cities of a similar size. It said the city needed greater diversification and more core business district offices.

“With the way people work changing, Sheffield needs to develop a strategy that is sufficiently focused to differentiate itself from Nottingham, Leeds or Manchester’.

The Sheffield 2020 report, now replaced by the Sheffield 2035 report, says there are over 16,000 people living in the city centre and it has potential for family housing.