A business consortium has unveiled multi-million pound plans to transform a five-acre site in the centre of Sheffield into a retail quarter.
Chaired by a former chief executive of Vickers Defence Systems, John Crowther, the Sheffield Retail Development Group (SRDG) claims it has “identified half-a-billion pounds of funding” for the £500m project.
Last year, developer Hammerson pulled out of the original £400m Sevenstone shopping centre scheme following a mutual agreement with Sheffield City Council. The authority then announcement it was searching for a strategic development partner to work on reviving the city’s retail heart.
The SRDG’s proposal involves a 650,000 sq ft mixed-use development with an anchor store and a range of shops as well as offices, restaurants and bars. The group says it has the expertise, the financial backing and the passion to “transform” the city centre.
As well as being a former Vickers’ chief executive, Crowther is chairman of the Amateur Swimming Association and non-executive director of Sheffield City Trust. He refuses to reveal the names of the six group members, the five major companies involved and its financial backers, nor any stores he said had expressed an interest.
“This is a world class team of Sheffield people who care about the city and can deliver a scheme that will transform its centre,” he explained. “We have identified half-a-billion pounds of funding and we want Sheffield people to know there’s a local bid that’s oven-ready to go.
“This is a market-led solution, that can take the risk away from the council so it no longer has to divert resources at a time of dire spending cuts,” said Crowther, who added the group had received expressions of interest from department stores and was confident the scheme would attract “household” names.
A spokesman for Sheffield City Council said: “We welcome these proposals as we drive forward plans for Sheffield’s new retail quarter. The authority can also confirm that it is working towards the procurement process to appoint a strategic development partner, and would encourage all interested parties to engage with this process.”
News of the SRDG proposal comes just weeks after the start of construction work at Three St Paul’s Place, the first speculative office development in the city since the recession.
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