Firth Park Sheffield: New shopping and leisure complex could open at old MFA bowling alley on Sicey Avenue

It has been standing empty since MFA Bowl closed suddenly more than five years ago in June 2018.
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A long-disused bowling alley in Sheffield could be transformed into a shopping or leisure complex, with football, cricket, golf and axe-throwing zones.

The large premises on Sicey Avenue in Firth Park has been standing empty since MFA Bowl closed suddenly more than five years ago in June 2018.

How the old MFA Bowl bowling alley on Sicey Avenue, in Firth Park, Sheffield, could look under proposals to transform it into a shopping or leisure complex. This image, showing the entrance on North Quadrant is  is for indicative purposes only. Picture: EddisonsHow the old MFA Bowl bowling alley on Sicey Avenue, in Firth Park, Sheffield, could look under proposals to transform it into a shopping or leisure complex. This image, showing the entrance on North Quadrant is  is for indicative purposes only. Picture: Eddisons
How the old MFA Bowl bowling alley on Sicey Avenue, in Firth Park, Sheffield, could look under proposals to transform it into a shopping or leisure complex. This image, showing the entrance on North Quadrant is is for indicative purposes only. Picture: Eddisons
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But The Star has now been told the premises changed hands earlier this year and an internal makeover has been carried out by the new owners, with an external facelift planned, as they attempt to bring the landmark building back into use.

The property, which is accessed from North Quadrant, where there is a 35-space car park, is being marketed to lease by Eddisons under the new name of The Quadrant, with the sales blurb describing it as a 'dynamic retail and leisure facility'.

Proposals for its potential use set out in the sales brochure include a new leisure complex with different sports zones set out around a central cafe area, including axe throwing, a five-a-side football pitch with penalty practice area, cricket nets and a golf simulator.

The old bowling alley, which stands above the empty former Fultons Food store, was previously listed for lease with rental offers of over £100,000 per year being sought but the new listing states that the price is available on application.

The MFA Bowl bowling alley on Sicey Avenue, Firth Park, Sheffield, closed in 2018 and the property has been empty ever since, but there are now proposals to transform it into a shopping or leisure complex. Picture: GoogleThe MFA Bowl bowling alley on Sicey Avenue, Firth Park, Sheffield, closed in 2018 and the property has been empty ever since, but there are now proposals to transform it into a shopping or leisure complex. Picture: Google
The MFA Bowl bowling alley on Sicey Avenue, Firth Park, Sheffield, closed in 2018 and the property has been empty ever since, but there are now proposals to transform it into a shopping or leisure complex. Picture: Google
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Tim Bradford, director of Eddisons Commercial, the agents acting on behalf of the property owner, said: “Following the recent acquisition of this block of property in Firth Park in early 2023, the new owners have embarked on a scheme of works to bring the property back into use.

"The internal works have now been completed and a building contractor has been appointed to undertake a scheme of external works which will include recladding the front elevation and undertaking repair and renewal works, including redecoration.

"The property is being marketed by the Eddisons Sheffield and Lincoln offices with strong interest already reported.  We hope to be able to come forward with more positive news on the re-use of this building over the coming weeks."

Co-op owns the lease to the old Fultons Food store beneath the bowling alley, where it used to have a branch, but it said the property was currently sublet. Co-op said that the site vacancy was 'under review'.

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Labour councillor Abtisam Mohamed, who represents the Firth Park ward, told The Star how residents and business owners in the area were 'frustrated' that the old bowling alley had been standing empty for so long and they were keen to see it brought back into use.

She said the bowling alley and the buildings beneath would have been 'ideal' for the site of the proposed new GP hub, due to their central location and good transport links, but when she and fellow councillors looked into this they found the 'complexities of the ownership meant it wasn't feasible'.

Coun Mohamed told The Star residents were keen for a new supermarket and councillors had contacted big names including Tesco, Lidl and Aldi to suggest it as a new site. She said Tesco advised them it had looked at the premises but determined the site was not suitable, which she understood was again due to the ownership structure.

The freehold to the old bowling alley is owned by the London-based firm David Fish Limited, according to a Land Registry document obtained in May this year.

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In a thread on Twitter, Coun Mohamed suggested that the fact the owners were London based meant they would be less likely to understand the area and realise that a £100,000 yearly rental, as was previously advertised, 'isn't viable for a local business'.

She said there were probably many similar empty commercial properties across Sheffield and described how Labour's shadow levelling-up secretary Lisa Nandy had announced plans to help bring more disused buildings back into use by changing how land is valued when acquired by councils through compulsory purchase orders.

"Local priorities should be a key factor in deciding what happens to derelict commercial sites not out of city financial gatekeepers," she added, in the thread.