Council will help Chapel Walk traders get compensation over scaffolding

A senior councillor says he will help Chapel Walk traders – who have been blighted by scaffolding for two years – get compensation from developers.

Friday, 14th June 2019, 2:14 pm
Updated Friday, 14th June 2019, 5:11 pm
Carl Dunn outside his shop on Chapel Walk

Retailers say there has been a 35 per cent drop in takings because of the scaffolding.

Along with pursuing compensation, the council is also looking at giving traders a hardship grant.

Retailers, shoppers and councillors have all despaired about the scaffolding. Traders were assured it would be removed this month – only for developers to ask for an extension until November, hitting the peak Christmas shopping period.

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Carl Dunne, who owns Cards and Gifts on Chapel Walk, pleaded for help at a council meeting.

He said: “This goes back to September 2017 when construction work started on the scaffolding to convert the offices above Paperchase into student accommodation and apartments.

“Since then there’s been nothing but scaffolding and zero works actually conducted on the site.

“This has been ongoing for 21 months. Every single retailer, which are predominantly independent, are trading at least a 35 per cent loss weekly, monthly and yearly on their takings.

“We have no help from the council with business rates. We just don’t want the council to extend this licence. Please help us before we shut our doors.”

Coun Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for business and investment, said it was “unacceptable” the work had gone on for so long.

He said: “I share your anger and frustration, it’s unacceptable that this developer has made several commitments, not just to ourselves but to the businesses.

“This is not our building and when the application went through we agreed a timetable like we do with other developers. Here, when we have met with the developer, they have run out of cash, that’s why the work had stalled.

“We then chased them up and asked them to provide us with a timetable of when the work is going to start and I understand at the last meeting we had with Coyne they gave us an assurance that the work would be completed by June and we are sticking to that date. It’s unacceptable that it has to go on for so long.”

Coun Iqbal said he would love to remove the scaffolding but it would be unsafe and put businesses below at risk of water damage.

He added: “I have asked Sheffield BID to look at a compensation claim against Coyne. It’s unacceptable that Coyne has put businesses in this difficult position.

“We will come and put a case together to look at how we get Coyne to compensate for your losses.

“As a council, we don’t set the business rates, that’s the national government, but there has been talk about a hardship discretionary relief and I will talk to officers about that.

“I do apologise, we want to see that area flourish and bring this to a close.”

The Coyne Group declined to comment but said it would be issuing a statement on behalf of the development’s owners, Fargate Evolve Developments Ltd, over the next few days.