A new scheme that was piloted in one of Sheffield’s most challenging shopping centres has been warmly welcomed by local traders and is set to be rolled out to other district shopping centres.

The pilot scheme was intended to contribute towards the overall attraction and confidence of the Darnall area through the Successful Centres programme.

It was intended to target support at the worst performing district centres and last year Darnall shopping centre was identified as having some buildings in a poor state of repair and a high number of badly-maintained, empty shops.

Councillor Harry Harpham, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods said: “Darnall has all the ingredients to be a thriving and successful district shopping centre – a strong community, good range of shops and community facilities, and access to transport links. But the quality of the shopping was poor in relation to a centre that serves such a wide residential area.

“There has been a tremendous transformation in the appearance of the Darnall shopping area. It is now an attractive centre that people are proud of and it will encourage further investment by the existing businesses.

”The project was intended to act as a pilot for this approach and we will now be rolling it out to Spital Hill to complement the excellent work already completed on the highway and at Ellesmere Green.”

The proposed scheme is just one of a number of initiatives to be delivered under the successful centres programme for Darnall.

Neil Bishop of Darnall Neighbourhood Forum added: “The scheme has certainly made a big difference to the appearance of the shopping centre and has made this a much more inviting place to come and shop.”

The wider regeneration framework for the centre includes improvements to the general street scene to make the area feel cleaner and safer, training and support for traders, and enabling housing development on nearby vacant sites.

This project follows a number of regeneration initiatives in retail centres across the city, including Banner Cross, Hillsborough, Sheffield Antiques Quarter, Spital Hill and Stocksbridge.

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Notes for editors: The Thriving District Local Centres Strategy was produced in 2011 and identified key themes and priorities to support and develop a network of successful centres across the city. This would be based on extensive, citywide consultation with local residents and businesses about what needed to change in their area.

Through this Strategy, the Council is using £300,000 funding from the Local Growth Fund as a catalyst to stimulate private sector investment in Darnall and bring together untapped resources in local partners, such as traders and voluntary organisations to improve the area where they live and work. It was agreed that 100 per cent assistance be granted to meet the costs of the shop front improvements, up to a maximum of £5,000 per property.

Consultation on the scheme took place with local stakeholders, including Darnall Forum, local ward members and independent traders during March and April 2013. And the scheme was supported enthusiastically by local independent traders.

For further information please contact Warwick Toone, Media Relations Officer on 0114 205 3546 or 07764 659182. E-mail: warwick.toone@sheffield.gov.uk. For out of office media enquiries ring 07711 153995.