How Chinese development will inspire jobs bonanza

Artist impression of the New Era Square development
Artist impression of the New Era Square development
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The area between London Road and Bramall Lane will be ‘brought alive’ by a multi-million pound Chinese development which should also create 400 Sheffield jobs, a crowded meeting was told yesterday.

New Era Development, the Sheffield-based company behind the scheme, say their plans add up to far more than just a ‘China town’ development.

Artist impression of the New Era Square development

Artist impression of the New Era Square development

A consortium of six investors from mainland China have put money into the scheme after being persuaded to invest in Sheffield rather than London, Birmingham or Manchester.

And they said that, if the development prospers, they will consider investing even further in South Yorkshire.

The £65 million scheme for land near St Mary’s Gate roundabout includes shops, cafes, a Chinese supermarket, office space and student accommodation. The 20-storey development will also feature a ‘business incubator’ aimed at enhancing trade between business in the UK and China.

A planning application has been submitted to Sheffield Council, with the aim of starting work by early 2015 to be completed by summer of the following year.

Jerry Cheung shows the model of the new development to Lisa Yam and Gavin Bindle

Jerry Cheung shows the model of the new development to Lisa Yam and Gavin Bindle

Details of the plans were announced at The Copthorne Hotel on Bramall Lane yesterday, at a launch event attended by investors and officials from the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Manchester.

Around 100 people heard speeches in Chinese as well as English, and were shown 3D models of the way the development could look.

Jerry Cheung, managing director of New Era Development UK Ltd, said: “This development is a significant inward investment for the Sheffield City Region.

“It is a landmark project for an area of the city which will be transformed into a modern, cultural and enjoyable location for all. The investors from China are key business individuals and are very keen to promote and showcase the incubator we will create for their contacts in the Far East.

“This will offer a fantastic opportunity for any business looking to break into the Chinese market. It will also provide businesses in China with a UK market entry through Sheffield.”

The development will include shops and food and drink outlets on the ground floor, leading out to an open air square for events. A large Chinese supermarket will span two levels.

On the first floor there will be office space, an exhibition hall and the business incubator, and from the third floor up there will be 695 bedrooms for students.

Mr Cheung said: “We began work on this project a number of years ago, but in the last 18 months we began to purchase land to take forward our plans and make them a reality.

“Plans to redevelop the area into a China town for Sheffield have been discussed for more than a decade. These proposals will contain the spirit of those plans, but with a more cosmopolitan feel incorporating all cultures, not just Chinese.

“We have liaised closely with Sharrow Community Forum, Sheffield Council, St Mary’s Church and Sheffield United Football Club on the proposals, plus local businesses.”

Investor Jianfei Qin, speaking in Chinese through an interpreter, said investors were persuaded to choose Sheffield ahead of other cities after being visited in Beijing by Mr Cheung, a ‘passionate Sheffield promoter’.

He hoped the investment could mark the first of many in South Yorkshire.

Mr Qin said: “Our investment team all share the same investment philosophy. When we make our profit and grow our business we must bring job opportunities and commercial prosperity to the local community as well. Our investors hope to develop a trusting relationship with the local government and we will consider investing more in South Yorkshire.”

Deputy consul general Zhou Haicheng, from the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Manchester, welcomed the development plans.

Also speaking in Chinese, he said: “I wish success to this project, and also wish Sheffield to become a really global city.”