Published on March 13, 2014
A new retail future for Shefﬁeld? context and challenges Julian Dobson, director, Urban Pollinators
ONCE UPON A TIME... THERE WAS A VISION OF A SHINY NEW FUTURE, LIKE THE ONE BEING ASSEMBLED IN OTHER CITIES...
BUT WHAT HAPPENS TO THE BEST-LAID PLANS? WHY CONTEXT MATTERS, AND WHY THERE’S MORE THAN ONE WAY OF LOOKING AT IT
‘There is a concern that the High Street shopping experience to which society has grown accustomed... is changing and we are not sure whether we will like either how it will change or what it will be changed to.’ John Dawson, 1988
No more salvation by shopping 1 Concentration: 50% of shopping centre and high street leases will expire by 2015. Big brands are retreating into prime locations. 2 Polarisation: Liverpool One brought investment of £1bn and 43,000 new shoppers into Liverpool. Meanwhile Bootle and Runcorn were named as worst performing centres in northwest. 3 Digitisation: 12% of all UK sales were online in 2012. E-books now bigger than hardbacks in US.
The orthodoxy: ‘The New Retail Quarter will provide a high class regional shopping and leisure facility which would compete with other city centres such as Manchester, Leeds and Nottingham. The scheme would drive private sector investment in the City Centre and create high quality retail and leisure led mixed use scheme and consolidate the prime retail offer.’ Shefﬁeld City Council, October 2013
A STRETCHED CITY DOES SHEFFIELD NEED THE CITY CENTRE AS MUCH AS THE CITY CENTRE NEEDS SHEFFIELD?
An underperforming city? 1 Entrepreneurship: Shefﬁeld is increasingly shifting from big industrial enterprises to small businesses. But it has only 29 start-ups per 10,000 people - the national average is 42. 2 Income: Wages in Shefﬁeld are falling (meaning less disposable income) - £444 per week compared with £502 national average. 3 Consumption: UK personal debt is almost as high as annual economic output - sustainable?
OR A CREATIVE CITY? WHAT RESOURCES CAN SHEFFIELD DRAW ON TO INFORM ITS USE OF CITY CENTRE SPACE?
A creative city 1 Culture: An enviable cluster of cultural assets: theatres, music venues, galleries, performance spaces. 2 Making: Can the spirit of the ‘little mesters’ be captured in today’s retail environment? 3 Learning: Is it time for Shefﬁeld’s universities and learning institutions to take centre stage? International students alone contribute £120m to Shefﬁeld’s economy.
ACTS OF FAITH? TWO PERSPECTIVES ON ‘DOABLE’ BIGGER AND BOLDER OR LIGHTER, QUICKER, CHEAPER?
BIGGER AND BOLDER ‘A NEW ERA OF WORLD-CLASS ENTERTAINMENT AND CULTURE’
‘...a considerable cost difference between the type of scheme that most people with an interest in place would like to see and what those in the industry believe can actually be delivered...’ email from council ofﬁcer, 2014
LIGHTER, QUICKER, CHEAPER ‘TRY AGAIN. FAIL AGAIN. FAIL BETTER.’
Of the £30m paid for groceries in Totnes, Devon, only 33% is spent in independent shops and only 27% on locally sourced products - an opportunity to reconnect up to £20m of spending with local producers and retailers. Totnes Local Economic Blueprint, 2013
Some bigger questions 1 Who owns the city? Are rents and proﬁts from land and property assets returning to the locality, or to distant and disengaged owners? 2 Who beneﬁts from the city? Are decisions made in order to attract inward investors, or to support locally grounded innovation and entrepreneurship? 3 Who determines the future? What will retail look like in 2034? What do we want it to be like?
...and they all lived happily ever after? ‘What attracts people to places is interesting things. It’s people that attract people to places.’ (Marcus Westbury, Renew Newcastle) Do we need to change the retail offer, or to change the story of the city?
thank you www.urbanpollinators.co.uk Twitter: @juliandobson
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