Story: Douglas Johnson
Sheffield City Council has recently received £371,500 to improve the Spital Hill public realm, as part of the planning conditions on Tesco.
The plan is to replace the current pavement on the approach to the store. Street lighting will also be renewed. An additional £75,000 for public art will pay for sculptures at Caborn’s Corner and the Vestry Hall, planters at Sorby House and seats on Ellesmere Green.
None of the £371,500 will be spent on the Green or the shops around it, despite “upgrading of Ellesmere Green” being in the Community Assembly’s plan.
Although planning officers accept the legal agreement could include work on Ellesmere Green, they refer to “the spirit of negotiations with Tesco” and say that Tesco could challenge spending on Ellesmere Green if not directly related to the store development.
The original plan from 2005 aimed for total renewal from the Wicker to the Vestry Hall. After the Wicker refurbishment, Tesco would pay for the stretch to their store, the £371,500 would pay for the next stretch and the area around Ellesmere Green would be redesigned with £790,000 from New Deal and a further £3 million from Yorkshire Forward.
When Yorkshire Forward pulled out, this scheme was abandoned.
Reacting to criticism that planners have not adapted to the current economic situation, the Council’s line is that “Improving the Green is a priority for Councillors and the community and we are working towards identifying new sources of funding.
” Planners are looking at the “Local Growth Fund” set up to take advantage of the £2 million a year investment expected from the Government’s “New Homes Bonus” scheme.
It seems odd the Council has missed a rare chance to improve Ellesmere Green and make a visible difference. It’s not clear why the Council are happy to see a two-tier district centre.
Another question is how this scheme relates to the Highways PFI – the Council’s ambitious private finance scheme for road repairs. This huge scheme promises a “step-change” improvement to roads and pavements from summer 2012. If the Council uses the money from Tesco on pavements, will this be a wasted investment when the PFI reaches the area or is the Council going to use the fund to prop up the cost of this large project?
The Council has not consulted the public although it has “kept informed” Spital Hill shop-owners.
There are to be “workshops” on the public art in the New Year. The workshops will also address how traders can market themselves better and “the potential for a community-led occasional market on Ellesmere Green.”
If consulted, the public would no doubt say it is a missed opportunity to improve Ellesmere Green