World-class team?

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I read the article in Wednesday night’ s Star concerning the redevelopment of the Moor with considerable interest.

John Crowther, the chairman of the retail development group, states that “a world-class team has been assembled to work on the scheme”.

It must be around five or six years since Hammerson suspended all work on this project, so why has it taken all of this time for the retail development group, whoever they may be, to assemble this “world-class team”?

Mr Crowther also states that they intend to have an underground car park for 3,000 cars. Where they intend to construct this car park I do not know, but just think of the size of the excavation for this number of cars; they will either have to demolish a considerable number of buildings or construct a multi-storey underground car park. In which cas they will have to dig very deeply indeed.

Have they researched what pipes, cables etc will have to be diverted in order to achieve this? And just think of the time and cost of achieving all of this. Before even sitting down at a drawing board the question must be asked: “Why did Hammersons pull out in the first place?” The answer to this is very simple; they anticipated that a large percentage of the shops would remain empty because tenants would not be interested as the footfall would simply not be there due to a lack of money.

If you stand on the Moor how many well-heeled people, such as those who use Meadowhall, will you see? Why are the majority of shops on the Moor those which sell inexpensive produce? How are these cars going to reach the Moor when all of the roads leading to the city centre are so narrow and/or filled with traffic lights?

Mr Crowther also states: “We have identified a funding partner who would back our scheme – but the council want to do it their way and obviously feel they have the knowledge, skills and track record to be a major developer.”

Obviously the council want to do it their way. They always do and end up making an almighty mess of things and costing the council tax payers millions of pounds. How much is the council in debt due to all of the failed schemes?

Just look at Kelvin flats, Broomhall flats, Park Hill flats etc, all of which cost millions only to be demolished or left empty.

I find the allegation of retail development group finding a funding partner hard to believe. Any financial organisation which has studied this council’s track record over the past 50 years would take one look at this scheme and after the appropriate research place in the circular filing cabinet under his desk.

Just look at the Moor – it must have had four or five revamps in the last 30 years. I am sure many people remember the sunken gardens which were used as a public lavatory after the pubs closed. I remember Stephen McClarence once referring to them in an article published in the Star as “Sunken urinals” which was a very accurate description.

Then there is the famous, or should it be infamous, bandstand, about which the less said the better. This shows very clearly that the council does not have, nor has ever had, “the knowledge, skills and track record to be a major developer”.

The answer therefore is to put on hold every idea that has so far been brought forward and assemble a team of shopkeepers/shop managers, developers and the council who must, for once listen and forget their loony left policies, consider and discuss every point at length and then publish their conclusions in full, bringing them to the attention of every citizen in Sheffield.

They should then possibly conduct a survey of shoppers outside the city and then act upon all of the views. It is only then that a popular, well-used and profitable Moor shopping centre can be constructed.

Michael Hodgson

King Ecgbert Road, S17