Chancellor Philip Hammond hopes to seal China deal for Sheffield

Chancellor Philip Hammond
Chancellor Philip Hammond
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The country’s new Chancellor is flying to China to help finalise a deal that will bring hundreds of millions of pounds into Sheffield.

Philip Hammond, who was appointed by new Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday, will discuss a partnership with Sichuan Guodong Construction Company during a trip to Sheffield’s sister city Chengdu for the G20 finance ministers’ meeting this week.

Sheffield Council announced in October it had reached an agreement in principle with the Chinese firm, which is worth over £1bn.

According to Sky News, the proposed deal is worth approximately £190m in its initial phase. It is said to involve a major hotel development, student accommodations, retail and leisure space. Mr Hammond hopes to use the deal as evidence the UK as being open for business despite the uncertainty caused by the vote to leave the EU.

Sheffield Council is expected to announce details of the Chinese deal this month.

Neither the council nor the Treasury would comment on Mr Hammond’s visit to China.

A council delegation including leader Julie Dore and deputy leader Leigh Bramall spent time in Asia last month hoping to negotiate a series of deals that would secure jobs and investment in Sheffield.

The long-term ‘strategic alliance’ is yet to be finalised but is expected to involve Sichuan Guodong Construction Company providing money for a number of investment projects in Sheffield and the wider South Yorkshire region.

Sheffield also hopes to host a major conference with Chinese business leaders next year.

One Chinese-funded project already underway in Sheffield is the £65m Chinatown’ development between St Mary’s Gate, Bramall Lane and Sheldon Street. Construction has already begin on the 20-storey scheme, which will comprise shops, food and drink outlets, student flats and office space that is funded by Chinese investors.

The student flats are expected to be home to some of the 4,000 Chinese students who attend the University of Sheffield.

The council said in June it had ‘good’ momentum when it came to building Sheffield’s relationship with Chinese firms, despite the referendum result.

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