Developer Capital & Centric has dramatically increased spending plans in Sheffield after gaining approval for a £20m redevelopment of a former cutlery factory.
Co-founder Tim Heatley said he wanted to spend up to £200m in the city centre over the next five-to-10 years - as well as converting the listed Eye Witness works into apartments.
He announced the ambition after Capital & Centric was given the green light to redevelop the site on Milton Street.
It is the Manchester firm’s first project in Sheffield.
He said: “We are investing £20m here and our ambition is to invest a further £150m to £200m in the wider area in hotels, cafe-bars, restaurants, offices and workspaces.
“We’re not scared of that scale and we’d like to run some projects concurrently with Eye Witness Works.”
Mr Heatley was speaking at a round table discussion with city leaders.
He added: “People are very welcoming and very keen to help businesses like ours.
“It’s been great to hear about projects, events and activities that bring people into Sheffield time and again.
“That gives me the confidence to continue to develop and invest and create partnerships with the city council and operators. It’s exciting to be on a journey and I’m really looking forward to what the next five-to-10 years brings.”
The Eye Witness Works scheme will include 97 ‘loft’ apartments and townhouses, a new six-storey building, cafe-bar and private courtyards. The first residents could be in by the end of 2020.
Mr Heatley founded the company with business partner Adam Higgins.
He said he toured Sheffield on foot and on scooter before deciding to invest.
He said: “I was very surprised. I turned up with a preconception of a grimy post-industrial city.
“I walked around, ate out, talked to people and tried to understand the place and whether it had a culture we wanted to invest in.
“You get that here, people are friendly, they have a good quality of life and access to the countryside.
“It could do with a five-star hotel, the businesses are here to support it. When it’s done it’ll be obvious and people will think, ‘why didn’t we have one sooner?’
Capital & Centric has a reputation for restoring heritage buildings.
Mr Heatley added: “We have a lot of projects on the go in Leeds and Manchester and you can end up competing with yourself.
“I’m not from Sheffield. Sometimes an outsider brings an alternative perspective and can be a catalyst for a new area. We are trying to raise the bar in terms of quality for owner-occupiers and community.
“If a lot of people are invested here for the long run they will help look after the area, pick up litter and report anti-social behaviour.
“My hope and ambition is to provide beautiful new homes and apartments for people to buy.
“The trick for us is to restore and regenerate the beauty of the stone and brickwork and bring it back to life and celebrate the heritage and culture that Sheffield was built on.”
Tim Heatley - co-founder Capital & Centric
David Walsh - The Star business editor
Lydia Sadler - director at DLP planning
James O’Hara - co-founder of Tramlines and director of the Rockingham Group
John Mothersole - chief executive Sheffield City Council
Rebecca Eatwell - managing partner at Newgate Communications
Coun Mazher Iqbal - Sheffield City Council cabinet member for business
Matt Bigland - director at the Milestone Group
Kiran Antcliffe - operations manager at Creative Arts Development Space
Nick Beecroft - operations director at HLM Architects
COMPELLING STORY ON THE CITY’S CHANGE OF PACE
A meeting in the south of France brought Capital & Centric to Sheffield.
Tim Heatley met city council chief executive John Mothersole at MIPIM, an annual property fair in Cannes two years ago.
He said: “John had a compelling story about the pace of change and growth and ‘a can-do attitude’.”
Mr Mothersole said: “I came back saying, ‘I want Capital & Centric working in Sheffield’. What struck me was the way they treat buildings. In a digitised and commoditised world there’s a craving for authenticity and companies that respect buildings.
“I felt it was more of the moment. And we can’t keep relying on Kelham Island.
“This will set the tone for the area. There’s a connection between the authenticity of the offer of Sheffield culturally and Capital & Centric.”
Milton Street is inside the inner ring road, close to The Moor shopping, Devonshire Green open space and independents on Division Street.
HOW CITY CENTRE WILL CHANGE OVER THE NEXT 10 YEARS
The number of people living in Sheffield city centre is set to rise from 27,000 today to 50,000 in the next 20 years - while ‘wider Sheffield’ is already home to 60,000 students, many in purpose-built blocks.
At the same time, there are seismic changes in retail - and in the expectations of residents and consumers.
How will the city centre look in 10 years?
Matt Bigland: “You need a mixed high street which has some brands but some unique individuals who command respect. Sheffield is fiercely independent. You see it on Division Street where Starbucks and Costa came and went.”
Nick Beecroft: “You want a city centre with an eclectic mix of zones. In European cities you don’t know whether you are in a housing zone, or office or retail.”
Kiran Antcliffe: “I think it should be more somewhere they want to ‘be’ rather than ‘do’ then eventually people come to live there. If you start off trying to make somewhere a place to live you have places like music venues closing. You get a lot of that short term thinking with planning. “You get a big residential development but a live music venue has to close - and what are you left with?”
Lydia Sadler: “Fifteen years ago the question was ‘how do we get retail in?’ Now it’s housing. It needs to be a mix. I think the big problem is it’s a massive city centre. It’s something to bear in mind when you say you want to put a lot of people in.”
John Mothersole: “Ten years ago we decided the retail spine was too long and thin and it should be densified. At the same time, the tech community was buying in to mid century architecture. We had our eye on this area for residential for 10 years.”
Mazher Iqbal: “We decided to invest in Castlegate, they’ve found two castles there so there’s definitely an opportunity. We’re also investing in the Knowledge Gateway.”
Rebecca Eatwell: “It’s also about jobs. As a graduate 20 years ago I had to relocate. If there aren’t the jobs and if businesses are not locating here that’s a problem.”
John Mothersole: “New figures show Sheffield has the fastest office rents in the country. That means more investors, leading to more choice, which attracts more businesses.
“Sheffield is never going to be a ‘flash in the pan’ city, it’s about steady, consolidated growth.”
James O’Hara: “Going out and buying commodities has probably gone and been replaced by experiencing things such as events and food and drink and bespoke shops and creating an environment that is interesting to the public.”
KELHAM ISLAND WAS PIONEER FOR CITY LIVING
Kelham Island was the first area in Sheffield to get the makeover from disused factories to trendy inner city living.
Could Milton Street be next?
James O'Hara: “There’s a way of making this feel like one city and at the moment it doesn’t. I also think that Kelham Island happened because of people with passion. Independent businesses were left alone and the council facilitated.
“I think it’s about having a long term vision, it sometimes feels like we can go from plan to plan. We need to join the elements up. Kelham Island is considered outside the city centre.”
Lydia Sadler: “Infrastructure is physically disconnected. Kelham Island is not a natural walk. Most people hop in a cab.”
John Mothersole: “The breakthrough moment at Kelham was Cornish Works. Gleesons didn’t have confidence to do it and the council guaranteed them against loss, which was never called on.
“We also cancelled a scheme to make Ball Street bridge one-way.”
Matt Bigland: “A simple win would be to change the tram stops from Shalesmoor to Kelham Island.”
MAKING THE CITY CENTRE ATTRACTIVE FOR ALL GENERATIONS
Not all of the new city centre residents will be young workers - and infrastructure needs to reflect that, the discussion heard.
And poor air quality is of increasing concern.
Mazher Iqbal: “There will be 50,000 residents in the next 20 years. The Outdoor City is a big attraction. We have 60,000 students. Where we are now will start to shape family living. But cities are 24/7 and we need a night time economy that doesn’t cause a nuisance.”
Matt Bigland: “My parents want to move into the city centre, they’re in their 70s.”
Nick Beecroft: “You need a health centre and education at a good standard if you are moving here as a family.”
Lydia Sadler: “My concern is that the growth of residential is matched by community infrastructure such as doctors and educational facilities.”
John Mothersole: “This place is two minutes from a primary school, five minutes to a GP, five minutes from a hospital and 10 minutes from the railway station. I’m not saying we’ve got enough but it’s not nothing.”
On air quality Mr Mothersole added: “I’m not saying we are going to ban anything at this stage. We hope a combination of clean air zone, technology and human behaviour will lead to air quality that is acceptable. There would be a huge competitive advantage to be able to say we are the only clean air city’.”
Tim Heatley: “It’s exciting to hear about opportunities, hopes and fears of everyone, get under the skin of the city and be part of the success.”
ENTREPRENEURS FACE PLANNING CHALLENGES
Council officials were criticised for being slow, but Tim Heatley said that happened in every city - and described complaints as “growing pains.”
James O'Hara: “If planning and licensing were easier I would have two more bars.
“From doing Tramlines 10 years ago and opening a bar every 18 months to two years, I can now bang on Mazher’s door to get what I want. “If you are a start-up filling in your own forms and come up against barriers you would walk away.”
Kiran Antcliffe: “Dealing with planning is a nightmare. Officers are not interested in what’s good for an area. They are interested in what’s not going to get them any trouble. “We’ve taken on three shop units and it’s taken a year. Everything has been a struggle.”
Tim Heatley: “These are all positive stories about growing pains. It’s played out in every single city. It’s important to have development partners who aren’t ‘smash and grab’ and who build, flog apartments in China and clear off.”