STAR’S OPINION: Is this Meadowhall City Region?

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For some it’s a piece of retail heaven, for others it’s a consumerist nightmare.

Whatever your opinion of Meadowhall, one thing is undeniable – the shopping centre’s vast economic contribution to Sheffield.

According to a report published today, one job in every 100 and one penny in every pound spent in the Sheffield City Region is courtesy of Meadowhall.

It further claims that nearly one fifth of all business rates collected in Sheffield are from Meadowhall.

Impressive statistics, it must be said.

But as the city centre struggles and its businesses continue to fail, it doesn’t take a mathematician to spot a correlation.

Some will tell you that the twinkling palace of retail has turned the city centre into a wasteland.

Others will ask you to imagine how bad the wasteland would look if Meadowhall had never opened 25 years ago.

But pitting Sheffield city centre against Meadowhall is a desperately unhealthy situation – for everybody.

It should not be about us and them. It should not be city centre versus Meadowhall. Sheffield should be a united front – fighting hard economic times as one.

Take a look at Manchester and Leeds. Both have prosperous city centres and successful out-of-town shopping centres running in harmony with each other.

So why can’t Sheffield?

The fact is, the city centre needs serious investment to be what it could – and should – be.

While many opinion columns could be written on The Moor’s redevelopment, it is being done and it is beginning to work.

Sheffield Council assures us that headway is being made on the retail quarter redevelopment.

But as the downward spiral continues in the city centre, businesses and investors are – quite understandably – twitchy about parting with their cash.

As you are probably aware, The Star is fighting for an HS2 station for Sheffield city centre as we believe this would create the maximum economic benefit for the entire region. If the Government were to see sense and back the city centre – so would investors.

Today’s report makes it clear that, even without HS2, business is booming at Meadowhall. The same cannot be said elsewhere.

Without a successful Sheffield, there is no Sheffield City Region. If the city fails, the whole concept fails. Sheffield is the heart of this concept and the city centre its beat. So back it.

This is not the Meadowhall City Region, after all, and our Government would do well to remember that.

n HS2 station should be central: Pages 8-9

n Plan rail links ‘as one’: Business, Page 24

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