Sheffield United and developer respond after 'coming soon' posters appear on walls of ground
Posters advertising a development ‘coming soon’ have appeared on the walls of Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane ground, prompting much speculation.
The posters have been pasted to the brick wall surrounding the ground by Scarborough Group International, the property firm run by Kevin McCabe, who lost a bitterly fought ownership battle for the club with his former business partner HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
Scarborough Group is remaining tight-lipped about its latest plans but proposals have previously been submitted for apartment blocks at the corners where Shoreham Street meets John Street and Cherry Street.
Some fans have expressed concerns that any development at those sites could hinder proposals to boost the stadium’s capacity which were approved in 2018, though apartments at both corners were already part of the club’s wider expansion plans when Mr McCabe was at the helm.
The new posters simply state ‘Coming Soon: A development by Scarborough Group International’, with people directed to visit the firm’s website for more details.
The High Court found in Prince Abdullah’s favour in the 2019 ownership hearing, with Mr McCabe ordered to sell his 50 per cent stake in Sheffield United to Prince Abdullah, along with other club assets, including the Copthorne Hotel.
The two sides resorted to arbitration to agree a price after an initial deal to transfer the freehold of the Bramall Lane ground and other properties from Scarborough Group to the club fell through.
The transfer of sites including the Steelphalt Academy, stadium hotel and Bramall Lane itself was eventually completed before the July 2020 deadline which had been set, with the amount paid to acquire them remaining undisclosed.
At the time, Prince Abdullah promised there would be ‘more good news soon’.
When The Star asked Scarborough Group what development the new posters referred to, a spokeswoman for the firm responded: “As a business we continue to bring a number of sites forward in line with our UK-wide development strategy; branding and marketing these sites is an integral part of that process.”
Asked whether it was aware of any planned developments and whether those were expected to have any impact on stadium expansion plans, a spokesman for Sheffield United spokesman said: “There’s no infrastructure news from Sheffield United at this moment. Apologies, I cannot help you with your speculation and debate.”
He also declined to give any update on the future of the Copthorne Hotel, which shut last year with Scarborough Group and the club both blaming one another for its closure.
Scarborough Group’s website does refer to plans for the Bramall Lane area.
It states: “Alongside Sheffield United’s historic Bramall Lane Stadium, Scarborough continues its blueprint for redeveloping, upgrading or extending its owned properties shortly looking to submit for planning approval a mixed-use project at Chaucer Yard fronting John Street and Countess Road.
"Its two other properties at Boundary Corner (located at the junction of Shoreham Street/Cherry Street) and Cutlers Corner (positioned at John Street /Shoreham Street) already have planning consents in place for the development of modern apartments and ground floor retail space.
"Discussions are ongoing with Sheffield City Council to increase the density of both these sites.”
The development which is said to be ‘coming soon’ could therefore be the Chaucer Yard one opposite the ground, though posters have appeared on the Cherry Street wall surrounding the car park on the other side of the stadium.
Sheffield United’s £5.75 million plans to build a four-storey block with 45 apartments above a new club shop at Boundary Corner, at the junction of Cherry Street and Shoreham Street, were approved in 2017.
Planning permission for that project was initially due to expire in May 2020 but the deadline for work to begin was later extended to August 2023.
Separate plans for 52 studio apartments rising up to four storeys at the junction of Shoreham Street and John Street were approved in 2012, with the deadline for work to begin subsequently extended to February 9, 2021, according to the council’s planning portal.
In May 2018, plans to expand the stadium’s south stand, adding an extra 5,400 seats, were approved by the council.
The club said at the time that the planned work would increase the overall capacity to around 38,000, while separate proposals to extend the Kop stand could lift it beyond 40,000.
That application referred to other schemes, including the Boundary Corner development and the one for studio apartments on the corner of John Street and Shoreham Street.
More recently, in 2019, plans were approved for work to address Premier League requirements, following the club’s promotion from the Championship.
That included the creation of a main TV studio between the Kop and south stands, and an extension of the front row of seating on the south stand.
The planning application submitted on behalf of Sheffield United at the time stated: “Aside from the above, the club has aspirations to continuously develop the grounds to meet Premier League requirements as well as improving general facilities around the site from increasing capacity to accessibility.
“Additionally, the club intends to continue hosting other events after the football season.”
Away from Bramall Lane, in November last year, the club’s plans for a new two-storey training building, including a gym and physiotherapy and hydrotherapy areas, at its Firshill Crescent academy site were approved.
Last month, Scarborough Group announced £250 million plans to transform the Olympic Legacy Park with a new stadium, arena, office blocks and child health technology centre.