A leading Sheffield businessman has backed The Star’s campaign to secure a HS2 rail station for the ‘dying’ city centre.
Entrepreneur Jerry Cheung - who is behind the £65 million Chinatown scheme of shops, cafes, a Chinese supermarket, office space and student accommodation taking shape off St Mary’s Gate roundabout - is the first to support the bid.
Campaigners have called for the high speed rail station to be located at the old Victoria site because it would have a greater economic benefit but the Government’s position is still that putting it at Meadowhall would ‘best serve’ the South Yorkshire region.
Mr Cheung, managing director of New Era Development Ltd said: “I really think the HS2 station should be in the city centre.
“The city centre is dying isn’t it at the moment?
“There is nothing there.”
He said his New Era scheme, which is due for completion in full by 2018 and also includes a ‘business incubator’ aimed at encouraging business between China and the UK, would hopefully add to the city centre as would the long-planned £480m retail quarter.
But he added: “It’s quite simple - if the station is in Meadowhall then all the benefits that HS2 brings will go into Meadowhall.
“All the big businesses, all the commercial companies, all the extra visitors.
“The city centre is desperately needing that, needing business coming in and investment coming in.
“At the moment for a major city it is very quiet.
“HS2 can change that, it can rebuild the city centre and can bring the businesses to the city centre.
“More people and more businesses is what is needed to be a proper city centre like Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham.”
It was recently announced that in Leeds, the city’s HS2 station will be based in the city centre.
A final decision on the Sheffield site’s location is due next autumn.
Mr Cheung, aged 54, added: “There is no excuse here.”
Campaigners have previously said a city centre station would create 6,500 more jobs, £530m in annual business rates and £2.5bn in annual income than a Meadowhall station.
The Star’s campaign - called HS2: City Centre or Bust - was launched on Wednesday. Editor James Mitchinson urged business leaders, politicians and residents to help secure the ‘city’s biggest ever economic opportunity.’