What’s the plan to regenerate Sheffield city centre? Lib Dem councillors demand answers
Detailed plans on how Sheffield city centre will be regenerated need to be published within weeks, say the Liberal Democrats.
Opposition councillors say everyone agrees the city centre is vitally important for the economic and social wellbeing of Sheffield but suggest that the key question is what will the council do about it.
Coun Martin Smith told full council: “Major parts of the 2018 city centre masterplan are hopelessly out of date, making it pretty much obsolete.
“From the surprisingly large number of piecemeal press releases, it’s very clear that there is no new overall plan for the central part of the city.
“We know that officers have been working on this for at least 12 months, we also know that work on the overall Local Plan has been going on for donkey’s years, and we look forward to its earliest publication.
“I’m asking for a commitment to publish a new strategy for the city centre in the next few weeks, it can’t wait any longer.”
Labour councillor Abdul Khayum said there would be a comprehensive central area strategy in place by autumn this year.
“When the regeneration of the city centre stalled from the financial crash, the council took action to take control of the scheme away from a big development company and back into the hands of the city.
“We were able to future-proof the regeneration of our city centre and adapt to new trends. We are creating a mix of independent businesses and large companies, we have great new public spaces making it a thriving place for leisure and entertainment and are bringing more people into our city centre.
“We know that working patterns will never return to what they were before 2020 and we have a mix of workspaces to suit businesses of every type and to cater to the flexible modern office trends.
“It’s only by taking proactive action to put ourselves in this driving seat of major regeneration that we are now creating a new city centre we can be proud of.”
Green Coun Douglas Johnson, Executive member for transport and environment and also a City ward councillor, said he was doubtful the strategy would be ready by autumn as promised.
“There is a lot of good stuff in the city centre, there’s also a lot that frankly is not. There is a lot going on though and that’s important.
“I’m not entirely convinced we’re going to get this strategy by the autumn but it is something to work to and I certainly agree that there’s an effort needed for getting that strategy together.
“The question is, how do we want the city centre to look? And as one of the ward councillors I certainly want to expand on the conversations I’ve had with residents and businesses over the last few years.”
Conservative councillor Lewis Chinchen suggested using vacant space above shops to develop residential properties, creating a low risk, affordable environment for independent businesses and re-establishing bus routes where passengers needed them would be key.