Steel to zeal: Sheffield goes from strength to strength

Richard Clarke
These are bright days for Sheffield. The city is attracting both domestic and international investment, and a confidently growing business base is emerging.

Sheffield is a key player in the UK’s ‘fourth industrial revolution’, steadily repositioning itself as an international centre for the aerospace, automotive and software industries. Cutting-edge players have seized the opportunity—Boeing, McLaren Automotive, Sky Betting and Gaming, Jaywing, Fragomen Worldwide, and Rolls-Royce have all seen the benefits of Sheffield’s advanced manufacturing capabilities, world-class facilities, skilled workforce and high-quality living and working environment.

This business renaissance is high on the agenda for the Sheffield City Region Mayoral Combined Authority, which successfully negotiated devolved decision-making powers in 2014. There’s room for plenty more inward investment, with ambitions to create Europe’s largest advanced manufacturing cluster, and a Strategic Economic Plan to attract 6,000 new businesses and  70,000 new private sector jobs.

A strong relationship with China has developed, with links to cities including Chengdu, Nanchang and Daqing, and reinforced by the development of a Chinatown close to the city centre. Now nearing completion, the development spearheaded by New Era Development Ltd is a departure from the traditional food and retail focus. There’s a business incubator with office space, conference centre and student accommodation, and it’s hoped that further inward investment will follow.

Mayor Dan Jarvis is leading an ambitious vision for a Global Innovation Corridor, connecting people and businesses to key assets including the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District, the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, the National College for High Speed Rail, Barnsley’s Digital Media Centre and Doncaster Sheffield Airport. The initiative brings together placemaking and job-creating, underpinned by reliable, green and highly-connected transport infrastructure.

Getting people to Sheffield and enabling them to travel around the region is essential. Connectivity is therefore a top priority, with schemes such as Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), HS2 and trans-Pennine road improvements identified as key means of increasing commuter flows between the Sheffield City Region and other parts of the UK.

Academia is thriving here, with both the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University working in partnership with organisations across the region to drive innovation, productivity and growth. Sheffield Hallam has plans for a Creative and Digital Innovation Hub—another potential boost to the local economy. Both universities are investing in their teaching facilities and their student accommodation. Graduate retention is high, testament to the region’s professional opportunities and good quality of life.

Much of that quality lifestyle comes from the natural environment, and a key part of the Sheffield City Region Vision is to promote this green asset: one third of Sheffield is within the Peak District national park and 60 per cent is green space. With 250 parks, woodlands and gardens, the region has become a leading destination for outdoor activities and this too is a growing market opportunity.

SNC-Lavalin’s Faithful+Gould and Atkins businesses are currently working on the Sheffield Integrated Station master plan, in preparation for HS2 and NPR. The plan focuses on the blueprint for a high-quality and efficient passenger interchange, and seeks to maximise economic, social and environmental benefits in and around the station. It’s a great opportunity to unlock sites for development and strong interest is already being shown in the market.

Our team also worked on the now-completed National College for High Speed Rail, which will produce the next generation of skilled railway professionals needed for this important sector.

Development continues throughout the city, with upgrade of The Moor especially prominent. The strengthened retail and leisure offer and developing night-time economy are revitalising the city centre, with the first phase of the retail quarter nearing completion, and further phases to follow.

The former steelworks in Sidney Street will become new private rental sector (PRS) and student accommodation provision. In the leisure sector, the 3,900-capacity stadium at the Olympic Legacy Park will open in early 2020, housing the Sheffield Eagles Rugby League Club and Sheffield United Women’s Football Club.

At Faithful+Gould, our commitment to Sheffield’s future is part of our wider Northern Powerhouse strategy. I have recently been appointed to develop our business in the Sheffield City Region. I’m a longstanding resident of Sheffield, experiencing at first hand the benefits of this vibrant city. I’ve been working in the Midlands for many years, across residential, commercial development, public sector and health. I’m very passionate about my new focus on Sheffield and the wider Yorkshire area, and I’m looking forward to building sustainable long-term relationships in the region.

In addition to commercial developers, we are supporting local government clients such as Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council, with a range of residential and education projects. Our higher education portfolio includes a variety of projects for the University of Sheffield and we are currently working on the Sheffield Hallam University master plan.

There’s a can-do attitude in this city and its surrounding areas and my team and I are very proud to play a part in its success.

 

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