Fargate and High Street will see a burst of new life with a £20.8m cash boost from Sheffield Council after high vacancy rates.
According to the Sheffield Council Cabinet report from Wednesday (17 March) vacancy rates stood at just under 25% last year, higher than national trends, and numbers have increased as a result of Covid-19.
However, Sheffield Fargate and High Street was 1 of just 15 areas across England to receive the full amount requested in the Future High Street Fund at the end of last year, launched by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. An additional £5m was granted by Sheffield Council’s Corporate Investment Fund.
Matthew Hayman, from the City Development Major Projects Team, said: “It was reported to cabinet last year the strategic case for Fargate and High Street, and the need to address the evident decline was clear.
“The report also highlighted the opportunity to work with landowners to repurpose vacant or under-used buildings for new uses including housing and work space.”
Plans for an ‘environment for success’ have been established for the area, including investment into infrastructure and the continuation of the city’s zero carbon target by 2030.
Additionally, a property has been acquired to become ‘Event Central’ which will facilitate a year-round programme of events estimated to bring 44,800 extra visitors to the city annually.
The new space will host exhibitions and events, a cafe, and work spaces with potential residential accommodation on upper floors.
Cllr Iqbal said: “‘Events Central’ is the corner stone of this wonderful project, providing core working space, cafes, and event space not just indoors but outdoors.”
Further projects for the area include additional greening, sustainable urban draining, and a cycle route to contribute to climate resilience.
The site will also see the installation of digital infrastructure with 5G and WiFi to support events, and a controllable lighting scheme to improve visitor experience, highlight heritage, and deter crime.
Cllr Mazher Iqbal described the plans as: “An amazing piece of work, it helps set out our ambition for the city centre. I can’t thank Matt and his team [enough]. It demonstrates how we are reinventing our highstreets.”
Building works associated with ‘Events Central’ are to be completed before 31 March 2024.