Vision for future of Fargate and Sheffield High Street
Sheffield Council is developing its vision for a greener, busier and more vibrant city centre with plans to breathe life back into Fargate and the High Street.
From the cobbled stones at the top of Fargate down the High Street to the end of Castle Sqaure is one of the oldest stretches in the city centre and what the council calls the ’emotional heart’ of the city.
It was successful this summer in becoming one of 50 spots shortlisted for funding from the government’s Future High Street Fund.
The council will be putting in a bid for £25 million in the New Year to improve the area and in the meantime is collecting ideas for how they could use the money throughout a number of consultations running up to mid December.
Nalin Seneviratne, director of city centre development at the council, said making use of redundant upper floor space and seeing how they could be turned into flats to help meet housing need would be a key part of the proposals as well as improving events, creating better access routes, making the street greener and encouraging active travel.
He said: “Through this whole consultation process we’ll also be looking at what other ideas people have got for different uses of the buildings on the ground level. Whether it’s a community based thing or restaurants, cafes, crèches, whatever – that’s what this whole consultation process is about. To find out what the people of Sheffield actually think they would like to have and would make Fargate a lot better.”
He added they would also be looking at how the street could support independent businesses. “Fargate is going to go through some changes as retailing changes as well and that’s why it’s really important that we look at how we just improve the place overall and make it attractive for retailers.
“We might see more independent shops and smaller businesses, we had the Clicks and Mortar six week experiment on Pinstone Street that gave online retailers a physical presence and that’s the sort of thing we might be able to do on Fargate. But it needs that government funding to help make some of this stuff happen.”
Consultation so far has included seven different workshops with landowners and businesses, an online survey and an exhibition including artists’ impressions and a virtual reality experience of how the street could look.
At the exhibition, Malcolm Tait, professor of planning at the University of Sheffield, said they also did a survey of 1,000 shoppers in the centre and found two thirds of people visited or planned to visit Fargate, it was the second most popular place to shop after the Moor and it scored lower for greenery and cleanliness.
Summer 2020 is when the council will find out if they have been successful in their bid and from then they will have until 2024 to spend the money.
Councillor Ruth Mersereau, representative for City ward, said it was a great opportunity for the city centre: “There’s loads of potential but I’d like to see more detail.
“I think having many more independent businesses and cafes on Fargate would really make it a lot more vibrant. It feels like it’s just chain stores and homogeneous type shops at the minute. All of that area could be full of independent shops and up to Division Street as well and it would make the city centre a lot more interesting and cafes and bars would bring a lot more people into the city centre.
“It would be great to see Sheffield city centre turn a corner really. The high street has some beautiful buildings on it, Culters Hall and the Cathedral and all those lovely buildings are great – they could make so much more of that and you’ve got the tram coming right into the heart of town.”
In an updated document from the successful expression of interest earlier this year, the council stated: “The transformation will play a major role in completing plans for a Steel Route through the city centre, turning a declining shopping area into a mixed-use link between the two disinct regeneration projects already underway in Heart of the City at one end and Castlegate at the other.”
To take part in the consultation, go to https://sheffield.citizenspace.com/place-business-strategy/fargate-high-street-online-survey/. There will be an exhibition of the plans in the Moor Markets on November 25.