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The Heart of Sheffield's City Centre Regeneration

Situated 170 miles north of the capital and in the foothills of the Peak District National Park, is a city, which has seen vast industrial and cultural changes throughout the latter half of the 21st century.
The decline of the steel industry in the 1980’s had severe consequences in terms of investment, which left the majority of the city with areas of neglect due to hardly any development taking place between 1980 and 1985.
Political, economical and social pressures aligned to form a huge obstacle for the future progression of Sheffield’s city centre. However, key agencies within the city began to promote Sheffield as a creative city of culture, which brought a new legacy for development.
Early investment in the Cultural Industrial Quarter was seen as a pioneering scheme, which many other UK cities have since followed. An increase in people’s disposable income for leisure and decentralisation of government bodies provided the means for improving the cities image to benefit residents and visitors.

A rise in tertiary industries saw an influx of the service class allowing the gentrification of neglected areas. This wave of development added many new cultural attractions including The Leadmill, which still entertains local residents and continues to attract visitors to the city. An attempt to replicate the previous success to build on Sheffield’s music culture led to the opening of The National Centre for Popular Music in 1999. Unfortunately, this visitor attraction didn’t receive the same success and closed its doors in 2001.

Sheffield City Council reviewed their cultural policy in the 1990’s and incorporated a more integrated approach to cultural planning, proposing to address the segregation problems of art venues such as museums and theatres. It was also noted that Sheffield’s infrastructure was insufficient to bring tourists and new businesses to the city centre.

The opening of Meadowhall in 1990 had a detrimental effect on the city’s retail sector with the new out of city shopping venue providing a more convenient leisure and retail experience. Logistically, Meadowhall became a far more attractive outlet for consumers and businesses.

As part of a bid to improve Sheffield’s transport, the Sheffield Supertram began operation in 1994 and provided increased access from residential areas into the city centre.
During the 1990’s, all of the council’s cultural facilities faced inadequate financing and were externalised into charitable trusts. This enabled the opening of the Showroom Cinema and the Millennium Galleries to be built. The existing City Museum and Mappin Art Gallery were redeveloped and Sheffield Theatres were able to achieve financial stability.
At the turn of century, an ambitious plan, ‘The Heart of the City’, commenced with Phase One, which saw the building of The Winter Gardens, the demolition of the ‘Egg Box’
building and the redevelopment of St Paul’s Garden into The Peace Gardens. Phase Two saw further significant investment to develop St Paul’s Hotel, city centre office blocks, CafeĢ Rouge restaurant, The Cheese Grater car park and Sheffield’s tallest residential building - St Paul’s Tower.
From 2011, efforts were made to regenerate The Moor, a retail area of Sheffield that has seen continuous decline over several years. The Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, who own the majority of the buildings on The Moor, submitted planning application to create a 55,000 sq.ft retail block to include a cinema, two shops and a department store. Phase One relocated the old Castle Markets to a newly built indoor market facility.
Construction of the second phase was completed in 2017 and included The Light cinema, popular restaurant chains, Primark, Specsavers and GAP.
Phase Three, currently under development, consists of constructing new retail facilities and refurbishing existing retail units, one of them to include the multi national clothing company H&M.
Further plans to transform the city centre were proposed under the £600m Sevenstone retail scheme. However, this proposal was scrapped in 2013, following the recession and difficulties with the program, which left Sheffield City Council seeking a new partner.
In 2018, success was built on the previous scheme, the original Heart of the City project, and a master plan for Heart of the City II, the next phase of Sheffield’s major regeneration, was unveiled by the Sheffield City Council in partnership with Queensberry Real Estate.
In contrast to the original plans for a retail quarter, Heart of the City II is proposing to integrate and complement the existing city. The initial phase is currently nearing completion with the construction of a HSBC building with new retail and leisure outlets.
Centrally located in the heart of city, the site adjoins the main shopping areas of Fargate, The Moor and Division Street, adjacent to the Town Hall and City Hall and halfway between The University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University.
This new quarter will integrate existing architecture and remaining buildings of heritage to create new leisure and retail spaces to encourage further investment and visitors to Sheffield’s city centre. The plan will also have provision for additional commerce, with the development of Grade A office blocks, residential apartments, a hotel, car park facilities and green public spaces.
The Heart of the City II plan has been designed to change as each phase is completed, allowing for the flexibility to adapt and improve as the scheme evolves. The city now has the benefit of a clear direction with a strong emphasis on investment and transforming into a unique and desirable place to live and work.