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Heart of the City on track and set to transform Sheffield city centre

Heart of the City overview CGI

Progress on Sheffield’s £470m Heart of the City development scheme is forging ahead as a deal is agreed between Sheffield City Council and John Lewis and Partners following their decision to permanently close the Barker’s Pool store. 

The site will play a central role in the development of the city centre, with public consultation on future uses set for the New Year.

 A report on Heart of the City, which will be presented to the council’s Co-operative Executive committee on 15 December, highlights the rapid progress being made across the scheme, which is set to be completed in 2023, – with 40% of the development already complete and interest from commercial and leisure occupiers gaining significant momentum.

Construction on the new Radisson Blu hotel with rooftop bar continues at pace, with completion of the works expected in Summer 2023.

Alongside the hotel, preliminary work has also begun to revitalise the Gaumont Building, which is set to become a new leisure destination for the city, with a design that incorporates an innovative sustainable green ‘living’ wall.

Over on Pinstone Street, Isaacs Building and Burgess House are the next two major developments set to open in February next year – offering high-quality homes and workspace. Around half of the apartments in Burgess House have already been sold, with new commercial tenants expected to move into the 38,000 sq ft of office space available.

A deal is also close to being finalised underneath Telephone House, where the positive design changes – including the car park’s striking new cladding – are expected to result in the leasing of 15,000 sq ft to an exciting leisure tenant – opening in Spring 2022.

These forthcoming tenants will join the operators already appointed on the developments on Cambridge Street; Cambridge Street Collective and Leah’s Yard.

Cambridge Street Collective will be run by The Milestone Group, who will deliver an exciting food hall and fine-dining venue, and Leah’s Yard will be run by Tom Wolfenden, who manages Sheffield Technology Park, and James O’Hara of the Rockingham Group.

Plans for Leah’s Yard, which will see the creation of a local hub for creative businesses and independent retailers, were approved last month with support from Historic England. Both Leah’s Yard and Cambridge Street Collective will open in 2023.

The report also confirms that agreement has been reached with John Lewis & Partners, following their decision to permanently close the Barker’s Pool department store. The retailer will pay £5 million to the council to surrender their current lease and obligations, which was due to continue until 2040.  The payment will be used towards the future redevelopment of the site.

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, Executive Member for City Futures, Development, Culture and Regeneration, at Sheffield City Council, said:

“It’s great news that an agreement has now been reached with John Lewis with no cost impact to the city. We now have full ownership of the Barker’s Pool building and site, and importantly, its future is now in the hands of Sheffield.

“It is an anchor site within the Heart of the City masterplan, with so much potential and the Council is one hundred percent committed to creating something special that the city can be proud of.

“Earlier this year, we instructed sector experts Fourth Street, Queensberry and Arup, to start to examine the condition of the building, as well analyse the costs, market interest and sustainability of all of the available options for the building. In the new year we’ll be launching a consultation to find out what the people of Sheffield think about the future of this important site in the city centre and what they’d like to see.

“There have been some really exciting developments on Heart of the City this year, we’re really seeing it take shape now, the vision coming together, and there’s more to come in 2022 – it’s a great time to be living, working in and visiting Sheffield.”

Andrew Davison, Project Director at Queensberry, commented: 

“Letting interest in Heart of the City continues to accelerate with several key lettings in various buildings across the scheme currently being finalised with details to be shared in the new year. 

“The retail market is extremely challenging at the moment and is not isolated to Sheffield. National retailers continue to be cautious, with many understandably keen to see completed schemes before committing. However, we are extremely confident that the high-quality leisure and commercial occupiers we have secured to the city centre will continue to act as a huge catalyst in attracting exciting new retail brands.”