Are roadworks and boarded up buildings responsible for 'downturn' in visitors to Sheffield city centre pubs?

A city centre pub says trade has plummeted because of roadworks and boarded up buildings - leaving the neighbourhood ‘dead’.

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 11:45 am
Updated Thursday, 6th February 2020, 3:56 pm

Pete Roberts, landlord of The Harlequin pub, says Nursery Street is going downhill with derelict buildings, graffiti and broken glass.

A neighbouring building is still boarded up, despite developers getting planning permission a year ago to build apartments.

Councillors who walked around with Mr Roberts say they will tackle the problems and work is underway to revitalise the area.

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Landlord Pete Roberts points out boarded up buildings on Nursery Street to Coun Mazher Iqbal

“We are 20 per cent down on trade this year because of the roadworks,” said Mr Roberts, who has been at the pub for a decade.

“You come out any night and there’s not one person on the street, we have lost all that passing footfall. People are walking past and going into Kelham Island rather than coming here.

“A lot of people ask where the Harlequin is and when you say it’s opposite the Riverside pub, people don’t know how to get to us.

“With the road layout now, you have to go past to come back so we don’t even get customers who used to come in their cars.

Coun Douglas Johnson, landlord Pete Roberts, Coun Bob Johnson and Coun Mazher Iqbal

“The large downturn in footfall is down to two things - the on-going roadworks on the ring road so people can’t drive through and also because at night the road is like a no go area so they won’t walk.

“We have the Home Office, Aizlewood Mill and solicitors nearby but it’s just not a nice road to walk through and I have members of staff worried about their personal safety.

“There’s glass on parking spaces, boarded up buildings, graffiti and it breeds crime. People are vandalising the buildings, nothing has happened in a year with a planning application, no one is looking after the buildings and they are only boarded up because I complained about them.

“Nursery Street is dead and has no future and no businesses on it apart from us.”

Harlequin pub landlord Pete Roberts

Coun Bob Johnson, Cabinet member for transport and development, said the roadworks should be completed by April.

“This should allow footfall and cyclists through but unfortunately this decline has been over a number of years.

“I’m pleased developers are coming on board to put forward applications and as soon as one starts there’s a snowball effect.”

Local councillor Douglas Johnson said the area needs both businesses and apartments.

Landlord Pete Roberts (far right) talks to councillors about boarded up buildings on Nursery Street

“This has been long running since the floods in 2007, businesses were wiped out and couldn’t get insurance than we had the financial downturn.

“Trying to cross over on foot and bike is just a real nightmare. It’s been a hard time for businesses all around here and you only have to look around to see it’s dead.

“It’s not just about getting flats in, businesses also provide people coming for drinks after work. All these buildings are just waiting for demolition and rebuilding but I’d like to see good designs which will happen after these are cleared.”

Coun Mazher Iqbal, Cabinet member for business and investment, said he would chase developers who had outstanding planning permission.

“Planning has been approved for 260 apartments to bring extra footfall. For us, it has always been about how to support businesses and communities and get footfall.

“If we have people working and living here they will come and use the pub. We will speak to the developers to see when they are coming on site.

“I understand there are regular police patrols but I will go back and see what incidents they are picking up.

“The lights are new LED ones but if the lighting needs to be improved we can pick that up as it’s important people do feel safe.”