Alternative vision to transform Sheffield city centre is revealed

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A vision of a transformed Sheffield city centre - including a 3,000 space underground car park - has been unveiled.

Sheffield Retail Development Group, made up of business people, has put together the proposals and says they could be brought to life by 2018 at a cost of about half a billion pounds.

The plans include around 500,000 sq ft of shops, offices, restaurants and bars to fill a ‘connecting series of new Continental-style squares, pedestrianised streets, and alleyways, creating contrasting areas for street performances and outdoor events.’

They also feature a Sheffield arts and convention centre, home to a new Sheffield Symphony Orchestra.

The proposals –which were once part of the bidding process for development partners for Sheffield Council’s new £480m retail quarter –are now independent of the NRQ scheme.

John Crowther, chairman of the retail development group, said a ‘world-class’ team had been assembled to work on the alternative scheme.

He said: “We have identified a funding partner who would back our scheme – but the council want to do it their way and obviously feel they have the knowledge, skills and track record to be a major developer.”

The group’s plan also differs from the current council retail quarter scheme – for which outline plans were formally submitted this month – as it would keep the flagship John Lewis store in its present position at Barkers Pool.

The council’s retail quarter plans include extending Fargate and knocking down John Lewis, then moving it to a new location.

Talks on the move with the retailer have been underway for some weeks but the business group says its plan is a stronger solution.

Its ambitious plans include pedestrianised, bike-friendly streets and squares.

Mr Crowther added: “The car park would be easy to drive into from all sides of the city and remove the ‘rat runs’ and one-ways that jam up easily.

“Visitors would enjoy at least an hour’s free parking to give a vital boost to traders – and also support footfall on The Moor.”

The group is to continue developing its plan over the coming months.