Meadowhall leisure centre plan set for approval despite objections from rival shopping areas
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A proposal before Sheffield City Council’s planning committee tomorrow proposes demolition of buildings and car parking to make way for an indoor recreation and leisure centre, shops, food and drink, a cinema, police station and car showroom.The application involves The Source training academy, the area around the main centre and the M1 Distribution Centre.
A document from Meadowhall’s agent Quod states: “Meadowhall is largely retail-centric and lacks the range of leisure and F&B (food and beverage) offers now demanded by customers, and which are necessary for a successful and sustainable shopping centre.”It says the four key components are a new leisure hall extension to Meadowhall, a cinema extension, medium/large-format retailing, including a small food store, and change of use of The Source building for office and other uses.
This is the third version of the application, which has already been scaled down from a £300m proposal approved in 2018 but shelved by the pandemic. The proposals were then changed to push some aspects back to 2029 following concerns by the city council on the effect of the proposals on the city centre and other leisure plans.
Dransfield Properties, owner of Fox Valley shopping centre in Stocksbridge has objected, stating: “Allowing further investment and expansion at Meadowhall will do nothing for those centres which are now facing fresh retail vacancies and the challenge of attracting shoppers back to our traditional retail environments.
“Never has it been more important to put town and city centres first over out-of-town retail.”
Rotherham Council has also objected, saying that whilst it is smaller than the previous proposal, it has the potential to “double down the negative imapct Meadowhall has had on Rotherham”, in particular the town centre and the new Forge Island leisure development.
Retail investor NewRiver, which part-owns The Moor, has voiced concerns. A response from director Jamie Whitfield states: “it is difficult for us or the Council as planning authority to assume anything other than that the proposal, a major out-of-centre development, will have a significant harmful impact on Sheffield City Centre over the short and long term and, as such, is contrary to planning policy at all levels.
“There are several vacant leisure and F&B units still on the Moor and Fargate will inevitably have to try to pivot to a more leisure and F&B led offer, the proposals from the applicant could easily have a significant detrimental impact on this becoming a success for the city centre”.
A report commissioned by Sheffield City Council on the potential impact of the scheme by consultants CPW Planning concludes: “The reality that the two locations have overlapping shopping catchments means their wider attractions, such as food and beverage and leisure, are also in competition.”It says that, because of the reduction in scale and restrictions in the types of stores allowed on the new site, “we assess that the adverse impacts on the vitality and viability of Sheffield City Centre are unlikely to be significant”.