35 Comments

Very interesting article as always. I live in Rotherham which has suffered the double whammy of being sandwiched between Meadowhall and Parkgate. Rotherham once had two department stores, an M&S, BHS, WH Smith, Next, Boots. All are gone. The idea that town and city centres will become home to lots of quirky independent shops is pie in the sky I’m afraid. Rotherham town centre is dire.

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Oct 7, 2023·edited Oct 8, 2023

Great article, thanks.

Sheffield City Centre is undergoing a quiet revolution and long may it continue.

There's a strap line on one of the Heart of the City hoardings which says 'Making a Home for Modern Mesters' which I think is brilliant. Leah's Yard (Cambridge St) is one of those places. The redevelopment of the Little Mesters workshops will be a destination for independent retail, and immersive experience showcasing the finest traders, makers and creators from around the City. The available units were over subscribed 3 to 4 fold when they went out to offer. It reinforced the fact that Sheffield City Council's city centre regeneration strategy is working.

The majority of Sheffield's new housing allocation will be delivered in the city centre. Another 11k in the coming years to add to the 25k that already live within the inner city ring road. Familiar city centre shops have gone and are being replaced in part by supermarkets which are rammed most of the day.

If you try to walk into a restaurant it is unlikely you will be able to get a table. The hotels are full all the time. And there are waiting lists for people to get into city centre apartment blocks.

If you live in the city centre, you appreciate how busy it is. I don't feel this is a city that is down on its heels. It is just changing. I happen to think Sheffield City Council is doing a good job. There is a different festival every month throughout the calendar year and regular events and markets dotted all over. This is where the city centre has an advantage over Meadowhall. It is a more flexible space to host events. It doesn't have British Land telling it what it can and can't do.

What lets the city centre down is the prolific graffiti tagging and fly posting. Even in the areas that have been redeveloped like Fitzalan Square. If the Orchard Square street scene standards could be replicated across the city centre, I'm sure people would have more confidence in the fact that Sheffield had turned a corner.

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Well, it's certainly refreshing to come across a positive take on the city centre v Meadowhall debate! One thing you don't explicitly mention is that David Blunket's city council was dead set against in when proposed in the mid eighties for reasons that have become only too apparent. I end up really wishing that your optimistic take on the transformation of the city centre is realistic and sustainable. Unfortunately every time I return from a visit to Fargate or the Moor these days - and wonder what on earth the Chinese students passing through make of it compared to their home cities - my instincts tell me otherwise. Let's hope you're right!

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Asking which wins out town centre or Meadowhall and if they can coexist seems a bit irrelevant at the moment. The retail offer of both is suffering because of the online onslaught, which I think is supply side led. I think major retailers want online shopping much more than shoppers. I therefore predict we are in a period similar to what our night time economy went through in the early noughties. Corporately ran pubs management companies tried to reduce the number of outlets whilst selling their properties for a fast buck. What then happened was the consumer proved king, the real ale revolution took hold micro pubs were invented and we have a better pub offer than ever before. I foresee a similar retail transition. I hope it benefits both centres.

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I coined the term 'meadowhell' as a teenager, and being an obnoxious teenager, shouted about it (seeded it) while at meadowhell. Really thrilled that it stuck - still hate the place.

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One thing in favour of meadowhall easily missed: it's fantastic for accessibility. Lifts everywhere and no uneven pavements. Someone mentioned that to me about a decade ago and I haven't called it Meadowhell since.

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Another excellent article and answered a few questions I had about the rise of Meadowhell. Ironic that the mall took over from the city centre as the place to shop - now the mall is being supplanted by online shopping.

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A surprisingly positive piece even though a visit to fargate is a depressing experience. It is interesting you refer to M&S as hanging on. For how much longer? Try using their lift, it seems not much is being spent on the building. Boots and WHS?

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It would really help the city centre if they reduced the cost of parking. I had some time off recently and we decided to go to town and take a look around. We spontaneously went to the theatre (Life of Pi...it was brilliant!) And ended up paying nearly £17 for parking!!!

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I am really impressed with the way in which the city centre is being transformed, but it's only going to work if people get more positive about what is trying to be achieved, and go into the city centre to try the new food courts, restaurants, venues and independent shops. It's in all of our powers to make the change happen, but only if we go in and see the positive things, albeit I know everything can't be transformed all at once, so there are still empty lets and run down parts of town.

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Excellent, balanced article, giving real food for thought. Gives me hope for the city centre.

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founding

Terrific article full of interesting facts and insights. Can’t get too worked up about shopping v housing which is a false choice unless you believe in municipalisation of both retail and housing industries.

But great journalism Dan.

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Honestly, Dan, fancy writing an article on shopping in Sheffield without mentioning Atkinson's!

But seriously: Internet shopping and declining prosperity have ruined towns like Rotherham and Chesterfield (which has even lost its M&S recently.)

The survival of the exciting array of "experiences" in Sheffield is reliant on people still having money to spend on them: and unless we get more well-off world students, or relocated civil servants, etc., that isn't going to happen.

No, what we need is more housing, and unwanted shops could be converted to this use. Eventually, this will happen. I want it to be social housing: I'm rather worried that it will end up being for better off people with large mortgages.

Meanwhile, in another part of the forest (the USA actually) many malls are declining and some are being abandoned. Again, not enough consumer money to support them.

Byeeeee! Off to Atkinson's now 😁

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