THE STAR SAYS: We do need shops - but with character too

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Straddling the line between preservation and progress is always a difficult balancing act.

Today concerns have been raised about the impact that Sheffield’s planned £480m retail quarter could have on conservation, and in particular on one city centre road.

While many people may walk down Cambridge Street every single day without realising its historical significance, it is home to two listed buildings and was, until the 19th century, a major turnpike route out of the city.

Conservation advisors fear that the current scheme as it stands would cause a ‘significant deterioration’ of that part of the city centre.

They oppose the demolition of the Sportsman pub and treatment which will leave ‘little more than a facade’ of other historic gems there.

Or, as one member put it, Sheffield could end up ‘just like any other city’.

While everyone wants Sheffield’s shopping fortunes to be revived - both for the economic boost and the ability to buy what they need without travelling to Meadowhall - nobody wants to lose what makes our city stand out from the crowd.

If Leeds and York can turn their old buildings into quirky shopping arcades, why can’t we?

Even the producer of a new film, being shot in Sheffield, has praised its character.

The council’s deputy leader Coun Leigh Bramall says that transforming the city centre will not come at the cost of expense of important issues like heritage.

That said, there will undoubtably be people who, desperate to see something finally happen on the city’s retail scene, would rather crack on with the whole process and get the thing built quicker than you can say ‘flagship Poundland.’

And there are a lot more pieces of the jigsaw to put into place as well.

There is still no confirmation of whether John Lewis will be the anchor tenant - a big decision, given the design includes a road right through the current store and moving it wholesale.

A final developer out of three shortlisted has to be chosen and the outline plans have to be given permission.

On the latter, we hope that those who consider the plans do so while taking into account the advice from the conservation group.

These advisors care passionately about their city and want it to be only the very best.