£500m retail development ‘will transform Sheffield’

John Crowther
John Crowther
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A group of Sheffield business people have announced £500million plans to develop a new city centre retail quarter - in a new twist to the long running saga.

Sheffield Retail Development Group say they have the expertise, the financial backing and the passion to ‘transform’ the city centre with a 650,000sq ft development on a five-acre site by the end of 2018 - a year head of the city council’s timescale. Plans include an anchor store and shops as well as offices, cinema, restaurants and bars.

Spokesman John Crowther said they had been in informal discussions with Sheffield City Council for a year. But they decided to go public with their plans after growing frustrated with the rate of progress.

Mr Crowther is an ex-chief executive of Vickers Defence Systems, chairman of the Amateur Swimming Association and non-executive director of Sheffield City Trust. He did not reveal the names of the six group members, the five major companies involved, the financial backers, or any stores he said had expressed an interest.

But he insisted the plan was “credible” and urged the Sheffield public to support them via their website sheffieldshines.com

He said: “This is a world class team of Sheffield people who care about Sheffield and can deliver a scheme that will transform the city centre.

“We have identified half-a-billion pounds of funding. We want Sheffield people to know there’s a local bid that’s oven-ready to go.

“This is a market-led solution, that can take the risk away from the council so it no longer has to divert resources at a time of dire spending cuts. We have been waiting for a council announcement for some time. Now it’s mid-December and we are none the wiser. We would hope the council would join with us in due course.”

Mr Crowther also said they had had expressions of interest from department stores and he was confident the scheme would attract “household” names.

Plans for the £400m Sevenstone shopping centre were shelved last year after delays from Hammerson. Last week, the authority said it would reveal the next step in its new retail quarter plan before Christmas.

In June it said it planned to purchase properties in the area between Pinstone Street, Moorhead and Barker’s Pool in a £55m deal to get them back from developer Hammerson. A spokesman for Sheffield City Council said: “We welcome these proposals as we drive forward plans for Sheffield’s new retail quarter.

“We can also confirm that Sheffield City Council is now working towards the procurement process to appoint a strategic development partner, and would encourage all interested parties to engage with this process.”