'It was like an abandoned town' Sheffield author worries about future of Fargate as more shops shut

A Sheffield author has labelled Fargate an ‘abandoned town’ after his first trip to the city centre since lockdown, as several businesses shut up shop.

By Lizzie Day
Wednesday, 30th September 2020, 4:26 pm

Writer, Michael Wood, 40, from Lowedges, was shocked to see the number of empty premises which popular retailers once filled, on Fargate yesterday (Tuesday, September 29).

It comes after a number of chain businesses such as Pandora, Next, River Island, New Look, Office, Carphone Warehouse and H Samuel have moved out of the former major shopping district.

Fashion retailers such as New Look, Next and River Island have moved from their former home on Fargate to new premises on The Moor which the 40-year-old author feels is just moving prosperity from one area of the city to another.

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Empty shops are building up on Fargate, as Pandora, Office, H Samuel, Next, New Look and River Island move out.

Michael said: "It was like an abandoned town.

"It was sad, it was depressing to see what it had turned into in just a few months.

"I remember just last Christmas when the huts were up where they have gifts and a lot of people complained that there was a lack of foot fall.

"It just made think what is it going to be like this Christmas because there will be even less shops open.”

Sheffield author, Michael Wood is concerned about the future of Fargate as shops continue to shut.

The Lowedges resident admitted consumers are now doing more of their shopping online but argued it is difficult for shoppers to support a high street when there is ‘nothing there’.

He continued: "It was shocking.

"I know people are changing the way they shop and everything, I do myself but I've always tried to go into town wherever I can to support the high street.

"I love going in Waterstones and I love going in HMV but when I went down today I thought I can't see myself coming into town for my Christmas shopping this year.

"There's just nothing there.

"When you see so many empty shops it doesn't give you the confidence to say, I'll go down town and get my shopping.”

The 40-year-old author has blamed Sheffield City Council for the demise of Fargate, by allowing retailers to move from the former major shopping district to new shops on The Moor.

"You don't build new shops for the existing businesses just to move in”, Michael said.

"You need to build more shops to get shops that we don't have in Sheffield coming here and that's not what they've done at all.

"What happens is you get what's happened now, Fargate was a really lovely shopping area and thriving area and it's sad.

"It's just vape stores and clearance shops and that is not a thriving shopping centre, it is frustrating.”

Sheffield City Council declined to comment but the local authority hopes the government will grant the city money through the Future High Streets Fund, which would mean buildings like these could be repurposed for alternative uses.

The council submitted a bid together with the University of Sheffield for £25m from the fund, which has passed the first round of applications, which aims to help make improvements to the high street and Fargate.

The expression of interest submitted earlier this year was based on complimenting the £480m Heart of the City II development and ongoing investment on The Moor.

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