Cost of Fargate revamp more than doubles as Sheffield Council struggles with inflation
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An officer report prepared for the authority’s transport, regeneration and climate change committee stated the latest costs had risen from £8.82 million in November 2021 to nearly £18 million now.
Overspending was attributed to increased costs of materials, inflation, contingency costs and unplanned additions such as an underground bin system and anti-terrorism bollards.
Due to spiralling costs, plans have been cut back and phased with Fargate, including Events Central, getting priority and the High Street and other areas having to wait for improvements if more funding is found for them.
Councillor Mazher Iqbal, co-chair of the committee, said: “Due to a number of factors, many of which are outside of our control such as inflationary pressures, it was proposed to reduce the scope of the plans.”
He said the new plan focused on Fargate first and if that is completed, the council would then look to upgrade High Street, Castle Square, Hartshead Square, George Street and Mulberry Street.
“Residents and visitors will still benefit from new landscaping, Grey to Green inspired planting, new seating areas and an overall more pleasant and vibrant setting,” he added. “They can also look forward to progression of the cultural community hub, Event Central, and new uses for vacant buildings and improvements to shop fronts in the surrounding streets.”
Councillor Andrew Sangar, member of the committee, raised concern about the rising costs and questioned whether the council would be able to stick to this new plan and if partners including the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority and the government would be understanding of the changes to the original business case.
He said: “This report has not filled me with a great deal of delight and I’ve come out of reading this with a lot of questions in my mind about where we are going to be as a council in six months’ time.”
“From a Sheffielder point of view, Fargate is essential – we need Fargate to work but [you have effectively doubled the costs] and that worries me,” he added. “It also worries me that when you get on site you might find something else goes wrong because that is the nature of construction.
“I am concerned about what the contingencies are, I’m concerned about how we deliver on this and [I’m concerned] that we are losing High Street to make sure Fargate works which is absolutely the right thing to do – fully accept that – but from a member point of view we have a very detailed report but I don’t think we understand what the next steps are in terms of the challenges. I was certainly surprised that it came out double.”
Originally, the council secured £15.8 million from the government’s Future High Streets Fund for the work.
The extra funding now needed will be sought by reallocating £1.1 million of the Future High Streets Fund from the front door scheme – which supports landowners to open upper floors and improve street frontages – and using £4.6 million of South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority funding.
Street renovation works on Fargate are due to start in April.
Event Central is due to open around autumn next year.