Opinion: Innovative ideas are needed to give Sheffield a fighting chance of competing

The first ever ‘Pollen’ plants, flower and produce market will take place in Sheffield city centre tomorrow, hopefully attracting scores of shoppers.

Friday, 17th September 2021, 5:53 pm

Located on Castlegate, opposite the River Don and next to plots of beautifully blooming wildflowers, it is easy to see why this location was chosen.

The historic area, where Sheffield Castle once stood, has previously been described as ‘one of the most significant regeneration opportunities in the North of England’.

Sheffield City Council has bid for £20million from the government’s Levelling Up Fund which would will be spent on three projects, one of which would see Castlegate revived as a focal point by de-culverting the River Sheaf and introducing new greenery and dedicated public spaces to make it more attractive.

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Pollen Market will take place on Castlegate, opposite the River Don and next to plots of beautifully blooming wildflowers, on Sunday, September 19

The outcome of the bid is expected this autumn, and in the meantime the Old Town Hall remains on the market after it was put on the market by receivers for £1.35m in June when lenders called time on developer Efe Omu.

Ambitious plans often take a long time to come into fruition and areas can be left to go to wrack and ruin while authorities and developers wait for that all-important decision to be made.

The area has been in desperate need of regeneration and redevelopment since Castlegate Market closed for good in 2013. To me, it has always seemed isolated from the rest of the city centre, both in terms of its offering and its evolution.

Additions such as The National Videogame Museum, Kommune and the Kollider Eagle Lab located above it have helped to breathe some new life into Castlegate, as have businesses such as Albie’s and The Social.

Bit-by-bit the area is beginning to change, but it is unlikely to be sustainable until the public’s perception of it also begins to change.

And that is why the addition of Pollen Market, the brainchild of the team behind Peddler, is extremely well-timed and could help to bring people who may not otherwise have visited back into the area.

In addition to the selection of plants on offer, there will also be makers selling botanical themed products as well as street food traders serving up delicious food.

More innovative ideas like this one are needed if Sheffield is ever going to be able to compete with other Northern cities.