A team of business leaders have declared a shared mission to rejuvenate Fargate in Sheffield city centre, promising to make it into a “force to be reckoned with”.
They have outlined plans to consult over the summer on a new identity for the street and neighbouring High Street which includes improved public spaces, kiosks and seated areas, and a new emphasis on entertainment and city centre living, alongside its excellent shops and retail outlets.
To achieve the vision the council is proposing to consult with owners and occupiers in Fargate and the surrounding streets in partnership with the Business Improvement District.
It will upgrade the public realm as funding allows and review the management and design of shop fronts, looking at the current planning guidance and making changes where possible.
It will also allow more restaurant uses with defined outdoor seating areas and encourage the use of the upper floors for a mixture of residential, commercial, community and health-based, such as dentists and GPs for example, through a review of policy, improved seating and work with the Universities on exciting new public spaces.
The council will also support the private sector which owns large parts of Fargate by looking at changes of usage which encourage new growth in the area.
Councillor Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for business and investment at Sheffield City council, said: “We are committed to giving Fargate a new sense of purpose as the gateway to our excellent and transformative Heart Of The City II scheme.
“We want Fargate to be a force to be reckoned with. You can’t hide from the fact that Fargate is changing, and, that it faces challenges. But by uniting behind this draft vision we can see the green shoots of recovery on this historic street.
“It is so important that we have signed up to this joint commitment to improving the street. We are one city centre, and it’s crucial that, as the Moor and Heart Of The City develop new identities, that Fargate can do the same.
“We also want people across the city to have their say about how Fargate develops so we can create a street that works for us all.”
Councillor Iqbal says there are grounds for optimism after Christmas footfall on the street, boosted by the Big Wheel and Christmas markets, increased by three per cent. Only five per cent of shops on Fargate are currently empty.
New accommodation close to Chapel Walk, together with a new bar planned for Orchard Square and the city centre’s first Pret A Manger which opened last year, show further evidence of how the street is changing, he said.
The council is still exploring how the public realm improvements can be made but say the vision is an important first step.
Experts say the vision can define how the street can develop and improve changes to shopping behaviour by giving building owners and retailers their chance to play a part in making Fargate a vibrant street again.
Plans are also being drawn up for how Fargate can support the Invictus Trials scheduled to take place in July this year.
The vision has been agreed by several of the business people responsible for many of Fargate’s key businesses and attractions.
Diane Jarvis, chief executive of Sheffield BID, added “Through discussion with businesses and other stakeholders, Sheffield BID has been looking at ways to address commercial and physical challenges in creating the right environment to attract new operators.
“We have learned a lot about the potential and opportunity for Fargate and the surrounding area. We look forward to working in partnership to create a shared vision to the benefit of all, but it’s vital this vision is delivered quickly to boost the vibrancy of Fargate and its feeder streets. We need to act fast to engage visitors and attract investment as part of the wider transformation of Sheffield city centre.
“During the crucial festive trading period, Sheffield BID enhanced the city centre’s Christmas offer by delivering the Sheffield Christmas Trail, which brought thousands of extra visitors to retailers on Fargate, High Street and Chapel Walk.”
The draft vision is set to be endorsed by cabinet in the summer following a period of public consultation.