Comment - Winners and losers in Sheffield city centre's historic upheavals

If you haven’t been into the city centre for a while - a year even - prepare yourself for a shock.

By David Walsh
Friday, 30th April 2021, 4:00 pm

Sheffield is going through several upheavals at once.

It’s well known the pandemic has been the death knell for many shops and most will be aware that Debenhams and John Lewis are the big victims.

But there are surprise moments of sadness everywhere as you spot another that has gone. Lynne’s Pantry on Surrey Street is one. The sign in the dusty window says ‘closed until further notice’.

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Nine shops in a row are closed on Pinstone Street, ahead of a new hotel.

It was something of an institution and very popular with town hall staff. But most of them, like the majority of office workers, haven’t been back for months. And it is really evident on the still quiet streets.

On Pinstone Street nine shops in a row are closed. They were Blend Kitchen - now on Ecclesall Road - two tech shops, the Park Hill shop, a charity shop, a former supermarket, Johnsons dry cleaner, Maplin and the Proper Pasty shop.

They will be replaced by a hotel, but even if work starts tomorrow those stores will have been shut for months and the street looks forlorn.

In fact, Pinstone Street is seeing many changes. It was closed to traffic last June to allow social distancing and is eerily hushed today.

Some 27 bus services were re-routed and stops moved further out - and passengers are still complaining about it.

And then there’s construction. Thank goodness for the council’s Heart of the City scheme, which has ensured building work on Pinstone Street, Cambridge Street and Rockingham Street is forging ahead.

The £480m project is being paid for by you and me, the taxpayer.

But Sheffield could have ended up with a monolithic Hammerson shopping mall that retailers would now be deserting.

Instead, historic buildings are being revamped and the project has a pleasing variety of uses, not just shops.

There are several other construction projects in the city centre but most are for flats, love them or loathe them.

So, a new Sheffield is taking shape and it’s too early to say exactly how it will end up.

But it seems the winners will be apartment-dwelling cyclists and the losers will be elderly and disabled bus users.