Date set for appeal over big Next store

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The controversy over whether a large Next Home and Garden store can be built near Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre will come to a head next month.

A date has been set for a public inquiry when a Government-appointed inspector will hear arguments for and against the £10 million scheme.

Scheduled for three days from Tuesday, May 21, it is likely to be a high-profile clash between the retailer and Sheffield Council, given the comments of Next chief executive Lord Simon Wolfson that the authority has effectively declared the city ‘closed for business’.

The council wants to protect the city centre, and has so far stood firm in resisting any attempts to expand Meadowhall or build big stores on its doorstep.

In particular, it is nervous about jeopardising negotiations with developers Hammerson over the proposed – and long-delayed – city centre Sevenstone retail quarter.

The appeal follows British Land, owners of the site, challenging the council’s stance.

At stake is a Next store selling furniture, beds and fabrics along with outdoor furniture and equipment, creating 125 jobs. It maintains that it would complement its fashion-led business in the city centre.

One of the key issues will be whether there is a potential alternative location in an established shopping area that could accommodate Next.

The retailers say there is nowhere suitable and available.

The council has pointed to the retail park off Eyre Street, near Moorfoot.