It has taken Sheffield city centre a long time to recover from the blow of Meadowhall shopping centre opening on its doorstep in 1990, but in the past couple of years the ‘steel city’s’ retail offer appears finally to be getting back on track.
Queensberry is making steady progress on Sheffield’s new retail quarter, and on the Moor, Aberdeen Asset Management (AAM) is breathing life back into a previously neglected part of the city centre.
AAM bought the Moor in 2010 and, after substantial investment in public realm works and the relocation of the city’s market, is currently ploughing ahead with phase two of the development, which includes a new retail and leisure complex anchored by an 80,000 sq ft Primark and The Light cinema.
“In the past 18 months, our investment has come to fruition,” says Phil Huby, head of retail asset management at AAM. “The new Primark has already opened and footfall in the area has shot up.”
The nine-screen Light cinema is due to open in April, alongside Pizza Express, Zizzi and GBK restaurants, and AAM is in “advanced discussions” with other operators to take the remaining food and beverage units.
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Planning for phase three has been secured, with H&M already signed up as the fashion anchor for the new retail block, which will feature leisure on the lower-ground floor.
Huby says the company is also close to re-letting the 40,000 sq ft former BHS unit to a single occupier.
“The Moor is changing and improving week by week, becoming more of a city centre destination as shoppers revisit and see the high-street names that are opening there,” he says.
Latest figures for footfall on the Moor indicate a huge increase of 700,000 visitors, taking the total to 9.4 million for 2016, a rise of 7.2%. The opening of Primark in autumn pushed December 2016 footfall up 14.1% on the same period last year.
We expect visitor numbers to continue to rise significantly - Phil Huby, AAM
“With the cinema and restaurants opening soon, we expect visitor numbers to continue to rise significantly - certainly we expect a 30% increase year on year by the summer,” says Huby.
The only potential cloud on the horizon for the Moor is British Land’s planning application for a new 330,000 sq ft leisure hall at Meadowhall. Although the Moor is currently “flying”, Huby is keeping an eye on developments at the out-of-town retail behemoth.
“We’re asking questions that still need to be answered about the intensification of Meadowhall and the consequences for the city centre,” he says.
15 May 2017
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