Fresh hope for Sheffield city centre plan

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A new fund has been launched to get plans for Sheffield city centre shopping back on track – but it could be another five years before they come to fruition.

The city council will put up £40 million worth of its land in a bid to encourage investors to back the retail quarter after the Sevenstone scheme was scrapped.

A further £50m in Tax Incremental Finance, which allows local authorities to carry out improvements to infrastructure by borrowing against what it will get back in future business rates, will also be available.

It means the council would join forces with private companies on the project, with a target completion date of spring 2019.

The announcement comes following criticism of the council’s failure to move on since dropping developer Hammerson.

Simon Green, executive director of the council’s place management scheme, told The Star: “This allows us to put in infrastructure. Just as an example, an investor might ask us to carry out work at Charter Square, and we will agree to do that as part of a bigger scheme.

“Previously that would have all been done and managed by Hammerson, so the fact we’re putting up this money is going to be a big draw.

“But we still need that private investment. It is too big and too risky for the council to do on its own.”

Council chief executive John Mothersole will showcase the venture, dubbed the Sheffield Investment Fund, at the international real estate conference MIPIM in the south of France today.

It is hoped work on a 600,000 square-foot retail and leisure quarter somewhere in the city centre will begin next summer.

Coun Leigh Bramall added: “By setting up the fund and working in complete partnership with the private sector we can speed up the delivery of the quarter by at least two or three years.

“We intend to deliver the promised outcome for the city centre.”