“As large high-street retailers leave our city the future of Sheffield’s High Street is in question. The Sheffield Civic Trust has been ambitiously exploring and debating this for many years and we believe the future of Sheffield’s high street lies in its past.
Historically Sheffield has always had a uniquely linear high-street Its elongated nature enables it to stretch from Moorfoot to the Wicker, connecting the city centre to thriving neighbourhoods and out to our beloved Peak District. It has the possibility of becoming a luscious extension of the ‘Grey to Green’; a route where pedestrians and cyclists are prioritised and existing nodes repurposed to create destinations where people can live, work, and relax.
Large high-street retailers aid our high street, but they do not define it. We should celebrate, diversify and utilise our existing high street to create a sustainable ‘Tomorrows High Street’ for Sheffield!”
This event brings together Sheffield Council officers and academics to discuss the future of the places we live, work and shop.
About this event
Covid-19 has only heightened pre-existing issues with the make-up of our high streets and city centres. The steady growth of online sales, matched with falling revenue in high street retail amidst soaring costs in rent and business rates, has resulted in key questions about the future of our city. This is compounded by the now-widespread adoption of remote working and the likely drop in the use of office space in Sheffield city centre.
This event brings together Council officers and academics to discuss the future of the places we live, work and shop. Sheffield’s recent hard-won bid for significant investment into the city centre could present some welcome solutions, but it’s clear that radical revisioning is required. What lies ahead for Sheffield’s high streets?
Julian Dobson – Hallam University & Event Chair
Professor Vanessa Toulmin – Director of City & Culture, Partnerships and Regional Engagement University of Sheffield
Nalin Seneviratne – Director – City Centre Development SCC
Jesse Matheson – University of Sheffield – CoPERI & Senior lecturer in economics
Sara Boonham – Sector lead for Town and City Regeneration at Gleeds
Back in the 1960s when I was seven years old my Dad bought the family grocery business. I remember his Dad, who had run a similar shop in Hillsborough since the war, tutting and telling him that retail is finished. After his retirement, I ended up running my grandfather’s shop for a couple of years in the 1980s before moving on to work in advertising where I dealt with the much less than glamorous world of media buying for retail advertisers.
I do not presume this experience qualifies me as a retail expert, but the death of the shop and retail has been predicted in many forms over the years, and with what’s happening now in the high streets I wonder if this fear is exaggerated, or possibly completely wrong.
Local authorities up and down the land are ‘repurposing’ shopping areas in ways that don’t need shops as if no one will ever go shopping again. They are desperately seeking some other uses instead of shops with which to fill the town centres.
However, I think it is premature to right the shop off. Some areas of retail appear to be making more money than ever now because sales are displaced from other shops. Shops are making money at the expense of the hospitality sector. Some of the people who have lost their jobs during COVID are going to set up businesses at some stage as we try to build ourselves out of the recession and there are many people, like me, in traditional office jobs now working from home who are still earning as before but have had limited opportunity to spend their hard-earned cash.
Now I work in a planning role, and this working from home malarkey ain’t easy at the moment, I am busy. That’s largely because all the developers who are normally splitting their workload between planning and delivery are allocating any spare time when they cannot be on-site to move future plans forward at a quicker rate.
Also, there looks to be, once COVID has passed, an appetite to support renewal. The Government may put their hand in their (or our) pockets to fund ventures.
Over in the US President Biden has noted the impact of the huge monopolies (Amazon and Google etc) on free trade and the spectre of legislation faces them. Similarly over here the question is being asked about their place in society.
So as we come out of lockdown there will be an opportunity for businesses if not making money to claim market share from the holes that have been created in the High Street. There will be people looking to set up businesses to get out of unemployment. There will be people who have spare cash craving the opportunity to have something to spend it on. There will be businesses with plans to deliver. There are likely to be incentives from the Government to grow the economy, and lots of available shop space.
I recall back in the noughties Pubs were being written off. Beer was cheaper at the supermarket. The smoking ban kicked in. Converting licenced premises to residential offered greater returns than beer! But, I think it is safe to say with the Craft Beer revolution and growth of micro-pubs the market bounced back.
Similarly, I think shop-retail will too. Like the pubs back then there are wider economic factors at work. Shop-based retail has to compete with e-commerce now. Something will give and open up markets. Shops may become better at creating their online presence and become showrooms for wider ranges of products. We had the experimental shop ‘Clicks and Mortar’ trying this in Sheffield and John Lewis have their model where stores and online complement each other. Competitive markets attract more retail space. Since Aldi, Netto and Lidl joined the food retail scene in the UK I think it is accurate to say the numbers of Sainsbury and Tesco outlets grew as competition increased.
So I hope as the vaccine starts to work and the new normal kicks in we will see a return to the High Street. This may be different to before. It may be that we don’t have clone towns anymore. New retail innovators will appear. There are more people living in city centres now, perhaps more food retail will be needed in these locations. Rents may come down.
Therefore I predict shop based retail to evolve (mutate like the virus if you like) rather than disappear. Local authorities should look at the type of retail we have and ask if we can shift the focus back into traditional shopping areas and away from out of town? They should look at trying to encourage new local ventures and look at the opportunities it offers as well as the challenges it faces and ask if high street retail will really shrink as much as they think it will.
On top of their competitive tax position, many local authorities, when they see a big number of new jobs they attract, bend over backwards to attract retail distribution centres and ignore how it affects the High Street. However, I predict a more balanced approach to this will emerge. So when my Grandfather said retail was dead back in the ’60s what he was seeing was evolution and rather than extinction and I think that is the same today.
This comment piece was written before the announcement of John Lewis not to reopen its Sheffield City Centre store, along with 8 other locations. It does not change the authors opinions and suggestions of the local retail landscape, and people’s attitudes to retail.
As a key stakeholder in the development of the Heart of the City II development, Sheffield Civic Trust have been asked to contribute to the pre-application consultation on the next phase (Block H) of the development, bounded by Cambridge and Wellington Street, and including the Grade II* Listed Leah’s Yard.
As supporters and members of the Trust, we would like to extend the information regarding the public events providing the opportunity to see the plans and speak to the project team.
Wednesday 25 March 202015:30-19:00 Thursday 26 March 2020 11:00-16:00
38-40 Pinstone Street (most recently home to ‘Clicks and Mortar’) Sheffield S1 2HN
Trustees who are able to attend will be at the event on 25th March from 6pm. Please join us if possible as we review the latest proposals and talk to the project team.
For those that cannot attend in person, the dedicated website (www.heartofcity2.com) has been updated to include information about the current pre-application consultation. Visitors to the website will have the opportunity to complete an online response form about these proposals.
Following the planning committee’s principled decision to refuse permission for a block of apartments to replace the historic Old Coroner’s Court on Nursery Street, the ball is now in the Council’s court to resolve the situation. The Old Coroner’s Court is still very much at risk and the developer still has the right to demolish it at any time.
Please contact your local councillors, copying Council leader Julie Dore, as soon as possible to ask that the Council immediately reach out to the developer, George Johnston of Firestone, and the architect, Coda, to find an alternative to demolition. This should not be difficult to find if approached in a positive and collaborative spirit. The developer has already proposed several schemes which are preferable to losing the building altogether, and the Council needs to be open-minded about these.
This evening we are holding a meeting about the forward planning and thinking in Sheffield in collaboration with Sheffield Property Association in the coming months and years, alongside our AGM.
This year Rupert Wood and Rosie Dodson have joined and re-joined the Sheffield Civic Trust as Trustees and have brought fresh new perspectives and expertise to the Trustees. Thanks for their input. Thanks too to Trustees who continue to work hard for us and deserve the thanks of the Trust: Simon Gedye, Paul Bedwell [membership], Jim Monach [Secretary], Chris Bell, Liz Godfrey [HODs], Samantha Birchall [SDA], Alex Maxwell [communications], Andrew Jackson [SDA], Janet Ridler [media], Rupert Wood, and Rosie Dodson.
The Co-Chair Lilly Ingleby will be stepping down as co-chair at this AGM, and would like to thank all trustees and collaborators of the SCT for their work this year.
Our key activities have largely continued as in previous years;
Sheffield Heritage Open Days – once again piloted with great success by Liz Godfrey and Louise Watt. Nearly 150 buildings opened their doors this September, spread over two weekends. This will sadly be the last year Liz Godfrey heads up the HODS team. The SCT would like to thank Liz for the amazing feat of coordination and energy it takes to put together such a vast heritage program. Liz will be extremely missed, and will be handing over to Janet Ridler for the 2019-2020 year.
Sheffield Design Awards – The Sheffield Design Awards 2018 were held in Trafalgar Warehouse in October. This year has seen the SDA become established as a charitable body with the support of the Sheffield Civic Trust. Newsletter – continues to come out to some 500 people. This gives very helpful information about our work and issues which are of interest to SCT members and supporters.
Civic Voice – Paul Bedwell continues as a Trustee of the national Civic body and thus keeps us informed of their views and activities. Once again several Trustees attended the annual conference. YHACS – SCT continues to be a member of The Yorkshire and Humber Association of Civic Societies, and this March hosted Civic Voice and over 20 Civic Societies from across the region for a day of lively debate about meaningful engagement and representation with the planning system, and a workshop with Sarah James of Civic Voice on the Building For Life standard as a template for consultation responses.
Design Review – This year has seen the SCT actively responding to planning applications, albeit at a much reduced rate due to Trustee capacity. Design reviews continue to be a key way of engaging the public in the development of the city and this is an area of activity which the SCT hopes to be more active in.
Heritage – Liz Godfrey remains our hardworking and conscientious representative on the SCC Conservation Advisory Group. If the SCC could resource that group better, more work could be done to safeguard the City’s vital heritage resource.
Live Projects with Sheffield University – Rosie Dodson, working with Carolyn Butterworth of Live Works / The University of Sheffield has channeled the enthusiasm and debate around the future of Sheffield’s High Streets’ into forming a Live Project brief for masters Students at The University of Sheffield. This will run October-November 2019.
Well done and thank you to all Trustees and members who gave so generously of their time to help make SCT a significant force for the wellbeing of Sheffield. If this is to continue we need more Trustees and active members. It is not however necessary to become a Trustee. We welcome members who would like to focus their efforts on one or more particular area of interest. Meetings are interesting and friendly occasions. All Trustees will happily talk to anyone interested in helping in this way.
The Keith Hayman Award for public art has been part of the biennial Sheffield Design Awards for a number of years. Named in memory of Keith Hayman, a keen artist and SCT Trustee, it is presented to the artist judged to have contributed most to the enhancement of Sheffield’s public realm in the two years preceding the award.
In celebration of Sheffield Design Awards becoming a registered charity, a retrospective event will be held this autumn (more details coming soon) at which the Keith Hayman Award will be launched as an annual prize judged, as in previous years, by the SCT Trustees.
If you know of a piece of new public art, mural or sculpture, please get in touch and let us know. All suggestions will form a longlist from which a shortlist will be taken and put before Trustees and a specially invited advisor from the city’s artistic community.
To be eligible for longlisting, the work needs to be sited within the city boundary and have been completed in the last two years.
The Glassworks – Residential Award highly commended (CODA)
These projects showcase the variety of areas which the Sheffield Design Awards cover, including the residential, education and public realm sectors.
Not only do the visits include significant projects from well-known national architects such as the National College for High Speed Rail, designed by Bond Bryan Architects, they also incorporate entrants from much smaller practices such as The Long Barn by Chiles, Evans and Care, which reflects the scope of projects which are being constructed in the region, and the diversity of design.
To find out more about the forthcoming visits, please follow @RIBA_SSA and book your place. For more information on the Design Awards please follow @SHFdesignawards
UPDATE: BBC Breakfast will be filming in Endcliffe Park from 6am, and there will be a memorial service in the park starting at 8am. The flypast is scheduled to start at 8:45am, weather permitting. Further details can be found here:https://sheffieldnewsroom.co.uk/news/mi_amigo_flypast/
He has shouldered responsibility for the crash for 75 years, as the plane was trying to avoid crashing into him and other children in the park. He has visited and maintained the memorial every day since it was erected, telling them how much he loves them and is forever grateful to those who saved his life.
Dan Walker, BBC Breakfast presenter, saw Tony planting new flowers at the memorial and uncovered his story. Dan then began a campaign to get a fly-past for Tony.
The US Ambassador has confirmed that a fly-by will take place on 22nd February, 75 years to the day, to commemorate the event, in Endcliffe Park. Further details are due to be announced shortly.
Sheffield Civic Trust Feedback in response to the consultation on Sheffield’s Heart of the City 2, Block B & C
Sheffield Civic Trust (SCT) thanks Queensbury, Counter Context and the design team at Leonard Design, for presenting the current proposals for The Heart of the City 2 to the membership. The Trust recognises how the briefing from Sheffield City Council has resulted in the retention of much loved heritage buildings, despite their non designated status. The City Council’s vision in acting as client and driving the brief to the benefit of the city is welcomed. SCT support the scheme especially on the following aspects; – the horizontal mix of use i.e. retail at street level with apartments and offices at the upper levels – access to upper floors with entrances from the street – the block by block, phased approach outlined in the presentation – the focus on a mix of uses that the current market is not supporting i.e. 2/3 bedroom apartments with quality external space rather than student housing. – retention of the existing street pattern – high-quality public space, that continues the approach taken throughout the city centre – proposed historic façade retention.
Detailed design comments Whilst the façade retention is welcomed, the gridded façade ‘folding’ into the existing pitched roof of the existing building (Laycock House) was considered awkward in some members’ minds. As this is a prominent corner, a more sensitive design solution should be considered. The architectural treatment of corners of both blocks on to the new ‘5 ways’ are a great opportunity for the designers. Seven Dials in London’s Covent Garden was raised as a good precedent for the design. It was felt that the opportunity to mark this significant meeting of streets has been missed in the current design. It was felt that the glazing proportions proposed within the new buildings should respect the order and hierarchy of the existing street facades more closely. Fenestration which denotes a top, middle and bottom may be more successful. The tendency towards expressing the top of the buildings in ‘zinc hats’ should be avoided, given their prevalence in speculative schemes over the last decade. The proposal for vertical stripes at the top of Laycock House currently give the appearance of cladding, similar to that used recently on a prominent car park in the city. Higher quality materials and detailing rather than the cladding shown are felt to be more appropriate. For instance the larger duplex units that top Block B could be expressed whilst retaining the materials and architectural language of the rest of the block. The servicing of the retail units from pedestrianised roads rather than a dedicated service yard is welcomed but will require careful management. This could ensure the strategy to reduce traffic congestion works, by encouraging workers to linger in the city centre after work.
Over view The current approach of developing the Heart of the City 2 block by block has great potential for a rich and diverse mix of architecture uses and streets in the heart of our city. This richness is emerging in the public realm, which looks both complex and exciting and is all about Sheffield.. The retention of historic facades will reinforce this diversity and local identity. However of concern is the emerging similarity in the building designs to date. The architectural expression of grids and cladding now emerging on the HSBC building is to be repeated on Blocks B&C. This reinforces the Trust’s belief that a more diverse range of designers should be employed to tie the scheme better to its context. For future plots, we would welcome a commitment from SCC to promote more variation and design quality by committing to either design competitions or a diverse mix of designers/architects for each plot . This approach was adopted at Liverpool One and has resulted in a wide range of architecture which enhances the experience of the city. Liverpool One avoids any uniformity or blandness in favour of a rich sequence of spaces and buildings which knit the development into the city – We do not want the blandness of Meadowhall transplanted into our city. We do want a more distinctive, new heart to our city that says ‘Sheffield!’ We hope that Sheffield City Council will consider supporting local suppliers in the awarding of the construction contracts, and proactively implement the Social Value Act, by considering inclusion of local labour clauses as appropriate when commissioning the development. Whilst the aim for high quality city centre living with a range of types of dwelling is laudable, the City Council should have a long-term plan for a range of ownership, to avoid gentrification that precludes a fair and equitable city centre for its citizens. We look forward to seeing the planning application in due course, and to engaging with the relevant parties as the Heart of the City 2 scheme goes forward.
Louise Watt Chair Sheffield Civic Trust on behalf of the Trustees. October 2018