£3m restaurant and hotel plans are much-needed vote of confidence in Sheffield city centre

Two major conversion projects – for a restaurant and a restaurant and hotel – are planned in Sheffield despite the pandemic.

Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 7:00 am

A landlord has launched £1m plans to convert the former Next shop on Fargate into a restaurant with rooftop terrace.

And hospitality giant Mitchells and Butlers has confirmed plans to buy and spend £2.36m converting the former Halifax bank on Surrey Street into a 20-bed hotel and restaurant.

Wakefield-based Woodhead Investments says there has been ‘considerable interest’ in the old Next shop, which has stood empty since last year.

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Halifax Bank, Surrey Street.

Director David Woodhead said they'd had contact with Domino’s, Bodyshop, Halifax TSB and a Canadian fast food operator.

The company won permission for the conversion in January but the project was interrupted by the pandemic.

Now it aims to complete an extensive revamp in six months. Clearance work has already started.

Mr Woodhead said launching the £1m project without an occupier was a big vote of confidence in Fargate.

The Next on Fargate.

The premium street is changing from retail to food and leisure uses. Currently more than 25 per cent of its 40 units are empty.

He added: “We think Fargate is still a good position despite The Moor attracting interest recently.

“I think Fargate will revive, especially from M&S up to John Lewis. The top end is busy still.

“It’s necessary to bring the building back into a modern specification and make it look as good as possible, we want to be attracting better operators.

An artist's impression showing how the revamped former Next building will look. Picture: Pearce Bottomley Architects

“We own other properties on Fargate and this is one we intend to hold for a long time.”

The building will have new cladding, a new kitchen and lift and the exterior clock will be kept.

It could be split into basement and ground floor, and first and rooftop, he added.

Its corner position with Norfolk Row would allow outside seating, giving it a ‘European feel’ and it caught the sun.

Celebrating interest in offices, cafés, restaurants and shops. Promoted by Sheffield BID

Next relocated to a new store on The Moor last year, joining the likes of River Island and Primark in moving across the city to the revamped street.

Over Christmas, it was used as a pop-up shop selling decorations.

Sheffield City Council is bidding for £15m of government cash to revamp Fargate and High Street from the Future High Streets Fund.

Meanwhile, a former bank on one of Sheffield’s best streets is set to become a 20-bed hotel and restaurant after the operator confirmed the £2.36m project was still on.

The old Halifax Bank on the corner of Surrey and Norfolk streets and opposite the town hall, is set to become a Miller and Carter steakhouse and Innkeeper’s Collection lodge hotel.

Both are brands of hospitality giant Mitchell and Butlers which confirmed it hopes to buy the site this month.

There were more than six patches on Surrey Street, large and small, old and new.

A spokesman said: “We continue to be in discussions and hope to complete the purchase of this site by the end of September. We will provide an update on when development work will commence in due course.”

The company was granted planning permission for the scheme in March, just before lockdown.

The handsome, heritage building dates back to 1893. It has stood empty since 2017.

Documents show the company intends to spend £2.36m on a fit-out and create 48 full time jobs.

The restaurant is set to have 187 ‘covers’ - the number of people that can be accommodated per sitting - on the ground floor and basement.

All 20 bedrooms will be ensuite. There will be no parking.

The firm states: ‘The restaurant will attract additional footfall to this part of the retail core and improve the city centre’s tourism offer’.

The Upper Chapel Unitarian Church to the rear on Norfolk Street objected over the planned extraction system claiming it would be immediately adjacent to the bedroom of the chapel keeper’s lodge.

Councillors approved the plan on condition noise insulation measures were included and a fume system was approved at a later date.

The news comes after historic Surrey Street was spruced up thanks to pressure from The Star.

In February officials at Sheffield City Council admitted they had ‘failed’ to police repairs.

The road is one of Sheffield’s best.

It boasts the Grade I listed Town Hall and six Grade II listed buildings including the Central Library, Channing Hall, The Graduate pub, numbers 67 and 69 and Leader House.

It is also home to the Montgomery Theatre, Tudor Square and the Winter Garden and is the main pedestrian route from Midland railway station into the city centre.

But it was left an unsightly mess of black patches after contractors dug up cobbles to lay pipes, install bollards and make repairs.

The Star intervened after several remained long after reinstatement deadlines.

At the time, Mick Crofts, director of business strategy and regulations, said: “That’s our failure, clearly what has happened has not worked.”

That included contractor Amey ‘self-monitoring’ its own repairs, which was “open to abuse,” he added.

Coun Mark Jones, cabinet member for street scene, said: “We have to hold our hands up, we should have done better.”

They said some patches were created by waste contractor Veolia which laid new district heating pipes last summer. Others were road maintenance work and the responsibility of contractor Amey.

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Surrey Street works in March. Mick Crofts, director of business strategy and regulations at Sheffield City Council, right, and Coun Mark Jones, cabinet member for street scene and the environment.
Workers re-laying cobbles on Surrey Street.
Work has started on the conversion of the former Next on Fargate.
The exterior clock will be retained.
Surrey Street in Sheffield. Picture: Chris Etchells
Historic Surrey Street in Sheffield showing the former Halifax on the right and the town hall on the left. Picture: Chris Etchells
Halifax Bank, Surrey Street.