New developers announced for £250m West Bar Square regeneration project

The regeneration plan for West Bar in the city centre is back on track after new developers were announced. The £250m newly named West Bar Square project will be developed by Urbo Regeneration – following the signing of a series of legal agreements this week.

Delivering more than 600,000 sq ft of prime office space and providing jobs for up to 5,000 workers, West Bar Square is expected to become a premier business destination in Sheffield. The main advantage of the site is its ability to provide large office buildings of the type required today by major occupiers and inward investors in an accessible, attractive and lively setting.

The masterplan, designed by Urbo’s award winning team 5plus architects and Urbed, has been created working closely with project partners Sheffield City Council to ensure the completed scheme will form a distinctive new extension of Sheffield City Centre.

The proposed office blocks will focus around the new West Bar Square, a major landscaped space comparable to Millennium Square and St Pauls Place in scale, linking the Cathedral Quarter to the Riverside, surrounded by cafes, shops, restaurants, a hotel and apartments.

Previous proposals for West Bar, a former industrial area which is bordered by the inner ring road at Corporation Street and Bridge Street, were drawn up more than six years ago by developer Castlemore; however the project stalled when they were placed in administration during the recession.

Regeneration specialist Urbo has been working for more than two years with Sheffield City Council and Castlemore’s administrators PwC to resurrect the development. Together, they have established a clear masterplan vision for the Riverside Business District, which identifies West Bar Square as Sheffield City Centre’s largest and most flexible office development site for major inward investors.

In contrast to the previous scheme, which featured three tall towers, the new West Bar Square now has a design that is more in scale with surrounding townscape and the needs of modern businesses.

The delivery of the development has now been secured by the new partnership which combines the existing land-holdings of the Council, Urbo and the previous developer.

Site clearance for West Bar Square is expected to begin shortly alongside a new planning application with a view to construction beginning in 2016 once occupiers are found for West Bar Square’s first office buildings.

Work will also begin in April on a £2.5million investment in the first phase of the ‘Grey to Green’ project which will create a new gateway to the City Centre adjacent to West Bar Square and the area in front of the Law Courts. The project will transform half a kilometre of redundant former ring road into pedestrian spaces, meadows and rain gardens.

Urbo’s Managing Director Peter Swallow said: “West Bar Square is a landmark development for Sheffield City Centre. It will not only deliver thousands of jobs during its construction phase and beyond, but establish Sheffield as a city for inward investment and one to do business with. The area has the right skills, people and infrastructure to ensure businesses that invest in West Bar Square thrive.

“We have worked tirelessly with Sheffield City Council to get this development resurrected and off the ground. Now we can now forge ahead with creating Sheffield’s premier business district.”

Cllr Leigh Bramall, Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development said: “West Bar Square represents a very significant step forward in the regeneration of Sheffield’s Riverside Business District which is becoming a major area for new employment. It will bring long vacant sites into productive use and also link the growing new residential areas at Kelham Island and Wicker into the City Centre.”

BNP Paribas and Knight Frank have been appointed as joint agents for West Bar Square.