Proposals for Sheffield’s long-awaited retail quarter will finally be debated by planners this summer - months later than hoped.
Documents submitted as part of outline proposals for the £480m destination of shops, homes and offices, which council bosses hope will transform the city centre’s fortunes, reveal applications will be ‘presented to committee in early June.’
It was originally hoped the plans would be decided on late last year.
Demolition of the Grosvenor Hotel House Hotel for the scheme was also expected to start in December but will now take place in the next three months, while an announcement on the chosen developer was due in March, but will be in ‘spring or early summer.’
Bosses insist that work has been progressing behind the scenes and they are confident the retail scheme - which replaces the failed Sevenstone dream - will go ahead with the first phase complete by 2019.
“It is crucial for the city’s development and we are confident that it will happen”, said Simon Green, executive director of place at the council.
“But as with all things worth waiting for it can take a little bit longer.
“A few months here is absolutely nothing in comparison to the disappointment of having to part ways with the previous development partner.”
Sheffield is the last major city centre in the country without a significant retail development, and council bosses say developers are keen to be involved, with the three shortlisted refining their plans to make them ‘better and better’.
Mr Green added: “It has to have a generational impact or its not worth doing.
“We are really the last major core city without a fully developed retail offer in the city centre, which is big news in the retail industry so they do want to work with us but it does take a little longer because they want to keep coming up with ways of improving the product.”
Delays are also said to be down to complexities of the project, including negotiations to secure the first phase of the quarter with retail and offices for a ‘major blue chip company’, purchasing land back from Sevenstone developer Hammerson and the legal process of moving tenants ahead of demolition.
One of the biggest questions surrounding the retail quarter is what would happen to Sheffield’s John Lewis store, currently the most premium retailer in the city.
Original plans show a pedestrianised extension of Fargate heading through the current store in Barkers Pool and a ‘new generation’ department store on Charter Square, meaning the shop would have to be demolished.
An agreement has yet to be reached and bosses say only they are working together.
But they do say that the scheme will have to be able to ‘evolve’ with the times, combine multiple functions and integrate with the city.
“Other towns and cities have retail developments where it is just a retail box”, said Mr Green.
“That’s great if you are on the inside of the box but those on the outside suffer - it is not part of the city centre.”