Sheffield's Fargate has 'bright future' despite retail shift to The Moor, claims property organisation
Sheffielders should be confident Fargate will have a bright future - despite a recent shift in retail from the city centre street to the burgeoning Moor shopping precinct.
That is the rallying cry from members of the Sheffield Property Association, a group of individuals and organisations with a key interest in land ownership and development across the city.
Next and H&M have either closed or are due to be closing their Fargate outlets to move into new premises at the ever-expanding Moor.
Meanwhile, it has recently been revealed that River Island could soon be set to be replaced by Metro Bank.
This has left many shoppers to wonder what the future holds for Fargate, recognised as the city centre’s main shopping hub for many years.
But it seems any such concern could be premature as council leaders have talked about rebooting Fargate with café terraces, bars and restaurants.
Members of the Sheffield Property Association are optimistic that the authority’s vision to make Fargate a ‘force to be reckoned with’ again is very much a possibility.
Martin McKervey, chair of the group, said: “Nothing stays the same forever. Cities are constantly changing. The key is to understand what is happening along Fargate.
“The city has seen huge investment a very short distance away along The Moor that has created spaces more attractive to retailers. The same is happening with Heart of the City II. Retailers are moving to those locations creating new opportunities for Fargate.
“Fargate will have an incredibly bright future if landlords come together and work with the council and city centre business improvement district (BID) to create an attractive and vibrant place to visit, grab a bite to eat and enjoy a drink in the sun. We should also do more to encourage more people to live in the area.”
He added: “We need to invest in making the public areas more attractive. Some of our members, like HLM Architects, are already drawing up designs to help with this process.
“Landlords will also need to reconfigure their units. One without the other will not create the impact the area deserves. By using public money and private sector investment together in the right way the future of Fargate will be very bright indeed.
“What Sheffield does not need is to see Fargate try to hold onto a past defined by high-street brands. Retail has changed for ever. Fargate needs to celebrate and promotes its local character, distinctiveness and its contribution to the local economy.”
Matt Summerhill, an executive member of the association, agreed that adjusting how Fargate sells itself would ensure it has a long-term future.
He said: “Fargate could be fantastic as a leisure destination, to link the theatres around Tudor Square with the high-end leisure in Leopold Square and City Hall area.
“Some of the architecture along Fargate is stunning. Fargate could be hugely attractive to good quality leisure occupiers making the area a destination throughout the day and late into the evening.
“A pedestrian, cobbled street in the centre of one of the UK’s most exciting cities. What more could you ask for?”
Next closed its Fargate store in July and moved to The Moor, and H&M is expected to follow suit later this year.
The Star also understands River Island could become a Metro Bank.
The bank has bought a 999-year lease from Orchard Square owners London & Associated Properties for £9.5 million.
A spokesperson for River Island said they could not comment on the issue at the moment.
Sheffield City Council is proposing to consult with owners and occupiers of buildings on Fargate and surrounding streets about how to give the area a new identity.
Meanwhile, the The Moor continues to boom and its latest edition, New Look, opened this week.
The shopping precinct is expected to be fully occupied by Christmas – unusual in today’s challenging retail climate.
Phil Huby, head of retail at Aberdeen Standard Investments, which owns The Moor, said recently: “There is so much going on compared to a lot of similar-sized places in the UK. In all sectors you get a sense just walking around there’s a lot going on. It’s a positive environment from a growth perspective.”
Aberdeen has pumped £120m into The Moor since buying it in 2010.
Along with revamping the shopping area, it has also built a new market and cinema.