MP Nick Clegg has backed council plans to start work on Sheffield’s new retail quarter – with or without a development partner.
Sheffield Council plans to set up a company to begin work on elements of the city centre scheme such as demolitions and some small-scale building projects.
The council aims to fund the work by making use of up to £30 million which can be borrowed against future business rate receipts.
Deputy Prime Minister Mr Clegg, Liberal Democrat MP for Sheffield Hallam, said: “My knee-jerk response is, it’s about time.
“It’s good news and makes use of the money the Government has made available.
“But I’m frustrated the council didn’t move more quickly to get rid of Hammerson and do this sooner.”
Hammerson, the previous developer, had put the new retail quarter – then known as Sevenstone – on hold in 2009. The council and Hammerson parted company in the summer.
Simon Green, council executive director for development, said: “We are creating an organisation which will probably be in the form of a company to develop elements of the new quarter.
“It will allow us to work on infrastructure and possibly some building work on the development.
“The council’s position is, as a major city, Sheffield has to have a retail offer to match its ambitions in both the city centre and at Meadowhall.”
The council said the new retail quarter will include up to 800,000 sq feet of retail space with extensive food and entertainment venues along with a multi-storey car park and high-quality public open spaces.
Officers aim to select a new private ‘partner’ to help build the scheme early next year and work towards completion by 2018/19.
Mr Clegg and the Chamber of Commerce had led calls for the council to ditch Hammerson from the scheme.