VIDEO: £400,000 to make Sheffield centre busier hope

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Hundreds of thousands of pounds will be pumped into making Sheffield city centre busier if a new scheme goes ahead.

Firms will be asked to vote on the creation of Sheffield’s first business improvement district (BID) - where companies pay a levy to raise cash to spend on improvements - next month.

Sheffield City champion James Prince, managing director of Sheffield's John Lewis department store.

Sheffield City champion James Prince, managing director of Sheffield's John Lewis department store.

More than 40 per cent of the £800,000 a year that is expected to be raised will be spent on drawing more people to the city centre through events and marketing after consultation.

Parking is another priority, and creating an app so drivers can see what parking is available, and where it is cheapest, is in the pipeline.

James Prince, manager of Sheffield’s John Lewis and chairman of the BID champion group, said: “In the third stage of consultation which came back there was a really clear steer that business owners and the public would like to see more being done to make the city centre busier - I’m pleased to say we have reacted to that and now more than 40 per cent of the money will be spend on busier.

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“It means there will be more money to spend on new events, enhancing existing events and targeted marketing.”

The threshold that businesses must pay a one per cent levy towards the project has also increased from a £30,000 annual business rate to £40,000.

It means 123 smaller businesses will not have to pay but will still get to have a say on the project.

In total 500 businesses are expected to pay a levy if the ballot, which lasts a month, ends with a yes vote.

As a result of the threshold change, £800,000 a year will be collected rather than £840,000 but negotiations are ongoing to see if Sheffield Council could contribute.

Another project to be looked at as part of the scheme is relocating a mobility scooter rental facility from Division Street, where it moved for the failed Sevenstone scheme, to a car park to make it more accessible. The BID ballot begins on February 12.

It comes after figures showed footfall in the city centre was down year on year in 2014.

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