Frame on for jobs bonanza

Artist's impression of Kilner Way retail park, completed.
Artist's impression of Kilner Way retail park, completed.
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It’s been a Sheffield landmark for years - instantly eyecatching to anyone driving through north Sheffield on the A61.

Now, four years after construction stalled, the ‘steel frame of Southey’ is set for completion after an upswing in the economy.

Owner Derwent Construction hopes to re-start work on the skeletal structure beside Halifax Road, part of Kilner Way retail park, within two months.

And “strong interest” from occupiers should mean the entire £16m project is completed within a year, more than half a decade after Argos, Pets at Home and Halfords opened in adjacent units in 2009.

The aim is to create a further 250 jobs on top of the 150 at the three operating stores.

Mark Aylward, planning consultant for Derwent, said: “The developer has owned the site for more than 20 years. They want to finish up, generate jobs and investment and move on.

“There’s been strong interest from potential occupiers.”

Following the economic crash, Derwent attempted to vary permitted uses in an attempt to appeal to a wider range of tenants, but ran into opposition from Sheffield Council, he added.

The authority was concerned about the impact it could have on the city centre, Hillsborough and Chaucer centre and tried to restrict use to bulky retail goods, Mr Aylward said.

In the end the company appealed to MP David Blunkett.

He added: “We asked him to get involved on the basis we were having some difficulties engaging with Sheffield City Council. He saw it as an opportunity to generate jobs.

“We did a lot of analysis which showed the scheme wouldn’t have too adverse an impact, that was key. The developer is pleased to finally get the application in – it’s a milestone.”

Derwent last week submitted a planning application to reconfigure the scheme for a “better trading layout”, following detailed negotiations with council planners,

If approved, it will mean the completion of the frame, three new small units and a decked car park.

The finished development is set to include a gym, coffee shop and 14 retail units.