The long-awaited consultation will run for five weeks and give locals the opportunity to share their views on how the city centre – which has been dramatically affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and is in development currently through the Heart of the City project - should be shaped in the future.
A new vision for the city centre’s development over the next 20 years sets out the diverse role it plays as a hub of commerce and growth in the city for shopping, leisure, and nightlife, as well as a home to thousands of people.
The document includes plans for 20,000 new homes to be built, creating five distinctive new neighbourhoods with high quality, sustainable housing in Neepsend, Wicker Riverside, Castlegate, the Moor and Furnace Hill.
The strategy for future development also outlines ten guiding principles, including creating job opportunities, improving connections to and between areas in the city centre, maximising the use of outdoor public spaces, diversifying retail, and requiring future development to contribute to net zero targets.
It focuses on three key central sites (Fargate, Castlegate and the former John Lewis building) where significant improvements are planned and work taking place around the ‘spine’ of the city centre, which runs from Castlegate, Fitzalan Square and High Street onto Fargate, carrying on along Pinstone Street and down through The Moor.
Coun Mazher Iqbal, executive member for city futures: development, culture and regeneration at Sheffield Council, said: “We know how much interest there is in the future of the city centre and that people want a city centre they can feel proud of.
“Sheffield is an incredibly distinctive city, and we want to make sure that we develop a vision for its future that incorporates our unique identity, heritage and culture, whilst making sure it is adaptable and able to face any challenges over the coming years.
“We know that Sheffielders are invested in and care about what happens next and that’s why we’ve launched this consultation to give everyone a chance to read the plans and have a say in what they would like to see.”
Sheffielders in Fargate told the Sheffield Telegraph about the consultation and what they would like to see change in the city centre.
Anne Gosney, who lives near the city centre, said: “It all needs tidying up. If it is about housing when the city centre is about shopping and entertainment, I don’t agree with that.”
A further principle of the strategy is to use existing distinctive architecture to give each area a unique character, which Anne supported.
She added: “Sheffield centre is like an architect’s dumping ground.
"I brought my camera today to take photos of some of the buildings. It is a good idea to keep existing architecture and build around it, as long as what is built up looks nice.”
Pamela Walker, aged 83, from Totley Brook, said: “I think it’s great that they are having a consultation and looking forward. There used to be more diversity in what you could do in the city centre, but that is going back a few years.
"It really does need something to bring people back in. When Meadowhall opened a lot of people started going down there rather than coming into the centre.
“I would like to see more public space, to encourage more people to come into the city centre. They need to draw organisations in now that John Lewis and Debenhams have gone.
“John Lewis should be knocked down and made into a public space with some smaller shops. I used to love going to John Lewis, it was a focal point.
"There are no large department stores apart from Atkinsons now. There are a lot of small shops for young people, but for older people there should be more department stores with everything in one place.”
Council data estimates that the city’s population will grow by more than 80,000 to 652,000 by 2039, and the plans for more city centre housing are aimed at accommodating this growth without putting more pressure on greenfield sites.
The consultation also highlights the importance of building on Sheffield’s identity as the Outdoor City – this means more focus on outdoor space and activities, clean air, and safe routes for pedestrians and cyclists.
Jack Spooner, from Firth Park, said: “If you are encouraging people to live in the city centre the biggest problem you have got is cars. The priority has to be public transport. Certain routes are not very good, the bus on my route is very often missing.
“There has to be a certain amount of leisure actually in the centre, whether that is specific events or permanent sites. The idea for an events space on Fargate would be good.
"You only have to look around you now and the centre is nowhere near as popular as it was 40 or 50 years ago. I remember when these pavements were absolutely packed.
“The only objection I have got to keeping John Lewis is the home of football idea. “I think it is an extremely silly idea. It is an awfully big building just for that. I would like it to be kept and turned back into a multi store. We also need more occupancy of shops.”