It will take more than a Lidl to lift gloomy Sheffield High Street

Due to what’s been happening over the past couple of years – we don’t need to spell it out – there’s a fair chance many of you haven’t been in Sheffield city centre lately.

Monday, 7th March 2022, 4:17 pm

Some parts remain vibrant, others we hope will be just that once the building work finishes and some could do with just a little TLC.

Then there is Sheffield High Street, which frankly looks like much of it might be better off being razed to the ground. Once a bustling, pristine jewel of the city, the sparkle has disappeared behind a cloak of cheap shops, dirty buildings and anti-social behaviour.

Walking down, once you get beyond McDonald’s you can almost feel clouds gathering above you and darkness setting in. Speaking of which, once nighttime does draw in you’re probably best steering clear of Castle Square and its surrounds. Just last week I was almost run over by two men riding motorbikes up and down the footpath; a little further down the road a man and a women were very clearly selling drugs in the street. This is literally yards from Snig Hill Police station at about 6.30pm.

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Every major UK city has its areas that can be politely described as ‘being a bit rough’. Few have them in such a prominent position as Sheffield does.

That’s a welcome addition, at least in the sense that once the sports retailers move down to The Moor we won’t be faced with another big building not being used.

But it’s going to take a lot more than that. High Street is in a shocking state and appears to be getting worse while attention is placed on other parts of the city centre.

For many visitors, this is the area that will be seen first as they get off the bus or the tram yet it is being criminally neglected.

We all understand that town centres across the country are having severe difficulties now as retail habits change and in fairness to Sheffield City Council, they are also having to deal with the departure of two prominent department stores in John Lewis and Debenhams and the vast space they took up, while continuing their Heart of the City project.

But the main artery into that heart is blocked by a gloominess that doesn’t reflect what Sheffield is or should be.

Progress is being made and there are people in this city with the dymamism and ingenuity to make it a star in the north once again. But let’s not forget the areas that really need investment.