Are Sheffield’s Commercial Properties Turning into Piccadilly Circus?

Posted on 16 October, 2011 by MOVEHUT

A proposed 19 ft by 13 ft digital screen on the front of a commercial property in Sheffield city centre has caused outrage amongst locals. Many people worry that the screen will cause distractions for motorists, leading to the higher risk of more accidents, as it is a busy junction in the centre of the city. But does Sheffield really need to look like a mini Piccadilly Circus?

The proposed digital screen will be erected on a commercial property at the top of The Moor, in Sheffield. The development will also see approximately 150,000 sq ft of contemporary commercial properties for shopping units and a new market place.

Scottish Widows Investment Partnership are the developers behind the £15 million scheme and say that they are not prepared to go ahead with any of the plans if the digital screen is not included. “This element of the proposal is not considered on its own to be sufficient to justify the refusal of the entire application,” a spokesperson for the company stated.

Council officers have expressed their concerns over road safety if the digital screen on the front of a glass fronted commercial property was given the go ahead, “In the opinion of officers, any additional distraction will unquestionably lead to an increased risk of accidents, especially as regards to pedestrians accidentally stepping out into the path of vehicles.”

Scottish Widows Investment Partnership already own a number of long leases on land in and around The Moor area and are ready to start demolishing the top of The Moor as soon as the scheme is given the go ahead by the Council. But the Council needs to weigh up the pros and cons for the development, “The digital screen is not considered to be appropriate in this highly prominent location and, from an aesthetic perspective, it is considered to detract from the building’s architecture and the existing character of the area. From a highways perspective, even with mitigation works in place, the digital screen is considered to cause a distraction to both pedestrians and drivers to the detriment of public safety.”

The Moor, in its heyday used to be a busy and vibrant shopping area in the centre of the city. The area however is in need of major regeneration work, as from the 1960s The Moor has developed into a shabby and neglected part of the city and has become littered with vacant commercial properties. A spokesperson for the Council expressed, “However, given the wider regeneration and economic benefits of the development, this element of the proposal is not sufficient to warrant a refusal of the overall scheme.”

The Council is due to make a decision tomorrow on whether the £15 million scheme will go ahead or not. But is Sheffield really a big enough city to broadcast a digital screen on the front of a commercial property like London, Birmingham and Manchester?

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