Sheffield Digital Campus backed by China firm

George Osborne on trade mission to China
George Osborne on trade mission to China
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A major development by Sheffield United owner Kevin McCabe in Sheffield has moved a step closer after George Osborne announced a new investment deal during his China trade mission.

The Chancellor revealed Chinese firm Hualing Industry and Trade Group have agreed to invest in two projects as he visited the company today.

Artisti's impression of the Digital Campus 2 buildings, at right

Artisti's impression of the Digital Campus 2 buildings, at right

Hualing will support the second phase of the Sheffield Digital Campus in partnership with Yorkshire property firm Scarborough Group and the extension of the Thorpe Park development on the edge of Leeds.

The announcement was made during Mr Osborne’s visit to the Xinjiang region, the latest stop on a trade trip accompanied by business leaders, ministers and councillors aiming to showcase the North of England to Chinese investors as part of the Chancellor’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ project.

Mr Osborne said: “We are building an ever-closer relationship with China – it’s a partnership that is set to unleash growth and help regions like Xinjiang where we know investment can make a real difference, as well as unleash new growth back home, in places like our own Northern Powerhouse.”

The two Yorkshire projects along with a third in Manchester also receiving investment from Hualing are together worth around £1.2 billion.

Scarborough Group chairman Kevin McCabe said: “As a family business with its roots in the North of England, we are now very proud to bring our partners in China to the UK to invest in our great Northern Cities and to accelerate the development of our major projects in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.

“Our partnership with the Hualing Group is a new and exciting one for Scarborough and we look forward to working with them over the coming years to bring our Northern projects to fruition.”

Digital Campus Phase Two will see two new blocks next to the Electric Works in the city centre.

They could house up to 1,300 workers in the creative and digital sector.

The plans were approved in February.

At the time, Mark Jackson of the Scarborough Group said they planned to build speculatively - start construction without a tenant signed up.

He added: “It’s a very strong location with excellent transport links. We believe in the location, the building and Sheffield.

“We would like to see pre-lets but want to get on with it. We think Sheffield is coming out of recession. It’s been a bit bumpy but it’s on a generally upward track.

“We completed the speculative build of Phase One - the Electric Works and Ventana House - at the height of the recession during 2010 and they were let within normal time scales with some quality tenants. It worked spectacularly.”

Electric Works is owned by Sheffield City Council and is home to nearly 50 creative and digital businesses.