Radical new future for The Moor in Sheffield under new owners after Covid forces sale

Debenhams could be demolished and 1,400 flats built on The Moor in Sheffield after the premier shopping street sold for a bargain price due to the pandemic.

Friday, 19th February 2021, 3:42 pm

Property company NewRiver snapped up the 28-acre site for just £41m - less than half the £89m asking amount - and unveiled radical redevelopment plans.

Bosses said filling empty shops and boosting footfall after lockdown was top priority, but up to 1,100 private and up to 300 student flats could be built in the next six years.

Access to The Light cinema could be improved - it is currently via long escalators - and the Debenhams department store, which is set to close permanently this year, could be flattened and redeveloped.

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Primark and Next are big draws on The Moor.

Previous owner Aberdeen Standard took a huge hit on the deal after buying The Moor in 2010 and spending £120m redeveloping it.

NewRiver boss Allan Lockhart said the price reflected the impact of Covid.

He added: “For sure the price was attractive, we also really like the opportunity to regenerate parts of the estate for residential, which will benefit the retailers. We are very comfortable this will be a successful investment despite the increase in vacancies.”

The Moor has 42 shops and 13 per cent vacancies, but two units were already under offer, he added.

NewRiver chief executive Allan Lockhart.

Flats were a big part of the plan long term, although he declined to say where.

NewRiver will have a ‘significant influence’ on the future of the Debenhams department store, although it does not own it, he added.

Options include shops, offices, leisure and flats, and refurbishment or redevelopment - which could include demolition.

“We don’t want it to remain empty. It is not going to be a department store in future. We need to do more technical work but we want a finished building that looks great. It is a key part of our strategy.”

Driving up footfall after lockdown is the first priority of the new owners of The Moor.

NewRiver bought The Moor estate in a joint venture with Bravo Strategies. It includes a 670-space car park, Wickes on Moore Street and the Staples Shopping Centre off Eyre Street.

The company owns 33 shopping centres, 24 retail parks and 700 pubs. But The Moor is the firm’s first city centre asset.

Mr Lockhart said: “We have never had the opportunity to own an estate in a major city centre before, usually they are a very, very high price. Covid has led to values falling and opportunities for investors.

“We like that is is open air, that gives health security. We like that it comprises 15 blocks, that gives us flexibility. And we like that Sheffield City Council is delivering the £470m 'Heart of the City II' regeneration project nearby and the commitment by John Lewis to a new 20-year lease and refurbishment of its city centre store.

“Sheffield City Council has demonstrated that it is a forward-thinking and proactive local authority, and we look forward to working with them to deliver a vibrant and connected city centre.”

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We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.