'Aloof' approach to investors and red tape costing Sheffield millions in development cash

A Sheffield developer has criticised the council’s approach to investors when ‘coming out of Covid we need to be at the top of our game’.

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 1:20 pm

The experienced businessman, who asked not to be named, said the authority was ‘aloof’, enquiries were passed between departments and there was too much red tape

He contrasted the city with Manchester and Leeds which ‘put their arm around’ potential investors.

The result was that potential developments went elsewhere, schemes were smaller than they could be and some who have done one vow not to do another.

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Some developers have gone to other cities due to problems in Sheffield, it is claimed. Picture: Chris Etchells

He said: "In Manchester and Leeds they put their arm around you and ask, 'what can we do for you?' It's a service like in the private sector.

"In Sheffield people in the council will say, 'this isn't something I can help you with, go and see X and Y."

There is no system where investors and developers can have a conversation with planners at an early stage and create a discussion about how they can help Sheffield and how Sheffield can help them, he added.

He knew of one developer who put forward a £10m scheme and then wanted to make it £50m but did not receive the help necessary from the council, including acquiring extra land.

Edward Highfield, director of regeneration at Sheffield City Council.

He said: “I’ve known of couple in the last five years. But if that is multiplied across the Sheffield-based investment community it adds up to multi-millions lost for the city.

“Coming out of Covid 'we need to be at the top of our game’.”

Edward Highfield, director of regeneration at Sheffield City Council, said they had a ‘proven track record of welcoming investors and the city had seen ‘significant growth’ in the past few years.

He added: “The council’s processes are streamlined to offer a comprehensive service, with planning, inward investment and property services departments operating together to ensure cohesion.

“When proposing a scheme, developers are encouraged to have discussions with the team to look at how their requirements can best be met.

“We encourage developers to speak to us so we can address any problems they may face, and although we may not occasionally be able to meet a developer’s expectations for legitimate reasons, we always seek to find solutions where possible to ensure that developments can go ahead."

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.