Feature: 2017 needs to be a year of action for Sheffield...
This year needs to be Sheffield's year of action.
The endless debates, planning rows and disappointments must be put behind us.
Now is the time for moving onwards and upwards as a confident city with so much to offer – old and new.
There are plenty of projects taking off in Sheffield and a growing sense of optimism that our city is getting better.
But we have a long way to go.
This year is absolutely key to making sure promises are fulfilled and challenges met.
It is important that some of the long-running schemes start to make some real progress, keep to deadlines and earn the city’s confidence.
Top of that list has to be the New Retail Quarter in the city centre.
The demolition of the Grosvenor Hotel has made the plans seem much more real and as if our long-awaited new shopping area may actually arrive.
There are plenty of debates to be had in 2017 as the final pieces of the jigsaws fall into place.
But by the end of 2017 we need to know where John Lewis stands in the second phase of the project – and the detail needs to have been nailed down.
Work to replace the Grosvenor needs to stick to plan and rubble transformed to construction work in the next couple of months.
More than a decade of no progress needs to turn into buildings rising up throughout 2017.
Ikea is now a cert and you’ll be able to do your Christmas shopping there next year.
The Moor is also a much better place than it was this time last year, but we need to ensure that work continues.
A new cinema in the next few months will help as will the addition of more well-known shops. Alongside that, and I don’t mean competing with it, must be the Meadowhall extension.
That site is set to bring in massive investment, create hundreds of jobs and should prove to be a huge attraction.
We revealed last week that there is already a six- month delay in granting planning permission – due to Highways Agency concerns.
These must be addressed and this must not be the first of many delays.
By this time last year, Sheffield needs to have ironed out all the problems and granted permission for full steam ahead.
Then comes the area’s transport.
Get those tram-trains out of storage and into use. It is only a first step but everything needs to have a starting place from which it can expand – hopefully in Sheffield’s direction. And let’s stop acting as if we are a city which has no airport.
There is an airport just 25 minutes drive from my office but most Sheffielders choose to head out of our region to fly from other areas.
That means you are supporting other economies while turning your back on our own region.
Is it Manchester that you’d like to see attracting more investment or your own city?
Using the airport which is on our doorstep will bring more businesses to Sheffield.
You can already fly to more than 40 destinations on big names like FlyBe and Thomson from DSA.
That can’t increase unless local people start to use the airport and you can be sure, when big firms are looking where to set up, an airport is on their must-have list.
So much of this area’s growth potential is in our own hands – and for the rest we need to make damn sure our voices are heard and support felt.
Now let’s talk sport.
Yes it is a hobby, passion and fortunes can turn in the blink of an eye.
But football in particular is a big money business and our city needs a bigger slice of that pie.
I would love to wave a magic wand to ensure both Sheffield clubs keep hold of their present good form – and please don’t mention play-offs.
All Sheffielders have a favourite club – and another that they love to hate – but in terms of economy we need both teams on the up.
Something I thought I’d never say, but come on you Owls and Blades.
This year the Sharks will move into their new venue, we must get the Eagles back home and let’s show true Sheffield support for our many amazing clubs and athletes who smash goals in sports that will never attract thousands.
This city cannot afford to be cautious on or off the pitch this year.
So that’s my wish list and that is exactly where your Star will be throughout 2017.
Campaigning, pushing, cajoling and demanding on your behalf – definitely.
Sharing your moans like a neighbour with a listening ear and cuppa – of course.
The focus must remain on the big schemes and headline grabbers but we will always continue to shine a light on the smaller schemes and projects that transform streets and neighbourhoods.
Do get in touch and tell me your wish list for your city or area.
Happy 2017 Sheffield.