Column: Depressing trip to city centre

Sheffield city centre.
Sheffield city centre.
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On a recent trip into the city centre I really did try to view the changes happening in a positive way.

However, I am afraid I started to change my mind when I reached the permanently congested area around the Broad Lane roundabout from where all one could see was the monstrous ‘Diamond’ building (the University’s new Engineering Block) which now dominates the skyline and overshadows the lovely old St George’s Church.

Joining West Street I recalled the good selection of quality shops there used to be, including Jaeger the ladies outfitters, Watt Smith’s who sold elegant furniture and the book shop Hartley Seeds, now all gone and replaced with bars, restaurants and fast food outlets.

I was travelling on the bus on my way to the bottom of The Moor which was quite an experience but I can’t say a pleasant one. I reached my destination and was making my way towards Atkinson’s when I was accosted by a man begging for money so I dived into Card Warehouse.

After completing my shopping I proceeded up The Moor heading for Pinstone Street, past more people begging for money and nearly every doorway outside vacant shop premises was occupied by a presumably ‘homeless’ person. On the side where Woolworths used to be, apart from Superdrug, nearly every shop was boarded up awaiting the promised and long overdue redevelopment which hopefully will change things for the better, as at the moment the run-down appearance of this area is enough to put anyone off their shopping.

I also passed the new cinema complex and yet to be filled retail units which, like so many others around the city, are yet more boring examples of buildings with no architectural merit.

I reached the demolition site where the Grosvenor Hotel had stood which is to be the new HSBC building which I read somewhere will be “modern and futuristic”.

Couldn’t we just have some traditional and elegant buildings which never date.?

As I reached Pinstone Street I noticed that Cambridge Street is still blocked off and I fear we shall never see this ancient road re-opened, as when the developers move on to the next phase they will take the opportunity to demolish the few remaining Victorian buildings (including the Pepper-pot).

Apart from the general chaos which of course is to be expected until regeneration of the area is completed, I cannot see how Sheffield city centre can compete with Meadowhall and other cities, or increase footfall, unless the beggars are cleared away, there is free parking, and more quality shops which stay open late to attract the after-work shoppers.

More effort also needs to be made on saving many of our historical and badly neglected old buildings.

I can’t see much that is attractive in our city centre in comparison with how vibrant and interesting it used to be in years gone by.

Unfortunately my trip into town was a very depressing experience and one I will not be repeating in the near future.