Why has the name changed from Sheffield Retail Quarter?
The change in working title reflects the evolution of the project over the past three years. While retail remains an absolutely vital element, we recognised that much more is required to create a truly sustainable new quarter in the heart of Sheffield.
Heart of the City II will complement and build upon the success of the original Heart of the City project, which saw the regeneration of the Peace Gardens, the Winter Garden and Mercure Hotel, Grade A offices, St Paul’s Tower – Sheffield’s tallest residential building, new restaurants and an iconic car park.
How has the masterplan changed?
The updated masterplan builds upon the huge amount of work completed over the past three years. The changes in the design look to further integrate and complement the existing city centre and its main shopping areas. Designed to retain the existing street patterns and more heritage buildings, it will integrate with the resurgence of The Moor as a shopping and leisure destination, the Devonshire Quarter of independent shops and bars, and Fargate.
The masterplan includes a greater amount of office and residential space, which is seen as a real key to success for the scheme. We need more quality office space to attract well paid jobs and we want more people to live in the city centre to increase vibrancy and a sense of community. More workers and residents also help to provide the spending that makes retail viable. Restaurants, cafés, entertainment venues and hotels are also now playing a much bigger role in dynamic and versatile city centres and they create new employment opportunities. The updated masterplan responds to these emerging trends and includes a much greater diversity of leisure and cultural opportunities.
Above all, the updated masterplan is a more adaptable, financially deliverable and can flex to meet the needs of a rapidly changing world. This ethos chimes with the aspirations of the people of Sheffield, who have told us during the past three years of consultation and engagement that they want a dynamic and versatile city centre, but one that is rooted in the city’s unique character and offers opportunity for all sorts of activity.
Is retail still part of the scheme?
Retail is absolutely at the heart of the scheme. Statements that bricks and mortar retailing is dead are premature. Innovative, adaptable retailers that place their customers’ needs at the heart of their activities and embrace the opportunities of digital technology are continuing to thrive.
What is changing is the recognition that retail needs to be part of a wider mix of activities, so that town and city centres provide a much richer diversity of experiences to attract visitors. Heart of the City II will provide this diversity but retail will still be a vital part of the mix.
What type of occupiers will be targeted?
The focus will be on bringing in a mix of high street and premium brands as part of the retail, food and drink and leisure offer. Absolutely critical will be the drive to bring new entrants to the city, complementing the existing provision but adding in brands that offer something new and distinctive.
Queensberry have been very encouraged with the market response to date. They have already been approached by many local, national and international businesses who recognise the underlying strength of the catchment population in and around Sheffield.
How will the scheme be delivered?
The Council is acting in a developer role with development management expertise provided by Queensberry. The Council will drive development by initially funding each phase. As the scheme is built, costs will then be recovered through the sale of the completed buildings or through rental income which will deliver ongoing revenue for the Council. The exact exit route would be determined after considering the relative merits of the options available.
Will any historic buildings be retained?
During the 2015 masterplan consultation, many people expressed a preference to retain as many of the historic buildings within the site as possible. Historic buildings are seen as critical to retaining the character of this part of the city centre and creating a scheme that is genuinely unique.
The updated masterplan has taken this feedback seriously. Rather than create new streets, the scheme will follow existing street patterns – important in enabling the retention of more of the existing heritage and to better integrate the new scheme with existing shopping areas. The masterplan includes the retention of the Pinstone Street frontages, with a new vision to bring them back to their former glory. It also includes the retention of Leah’s Yard located on the historically significant Cambridge Street.