How Sheffield will transform in 2020 and beyond with schemes worth £1.4 billion
Sheffield stands on the brink of a transformational decade – with some of the biggest developments the city has ever seen on the way for 2020 and beyond.
The Heart of the City II project will be completed, with two major elements on Pinstone Street set to be finished in the next 12 months, Park Hill’s refurbishment will speed up with the addition of more apartments, student accommodation and a landmark art gallery for the North of England, while opposite the railway station Sheffield Hallam University has an ambition to create a 37-storey mixed-use tower that would be the tallest building for miles.
Meadowhall’s reconfigured plans for a £300 million ‘Leisure Hall’ extension are expected to take shape, the arrival of the £175 million West Bar Square – offices, homes, a hotel and more on land behind the law courts – will expand the city centre towards Kelham Island, and Castlegate is ready to be completely regenerated, with freshly-approved proposals to revive the Old Town Hall acting as a catalyst.
Sheffield Council’s own summary of major developments says schemes worth £1.4 billion are on the way in the next 10 years.
"If you've got an interest in investing in Sheffield you'd better move quickly, because there isn't going to be much left soon,” said Alexis Krachai, chief executive of the Sheffield Property Association, made up of developers, construction firms and architects among others.
“There is a lot to go at. I've been here for 15 years and I've never known a time like it. And it's not a gold rush - it's not cheap money looking to make a quick buck. These are people who want to invest in the city in a meaningful way for 10, 15 or 20 years to create new homes and places to work, and to help rebalance our economy away from the public sector.”
A number of the new developments – such as Burgess House, part of HOTCII off Pinstone Street, and Eye Witness Works, a listed cutlery factory which is being overhauled by the Capital & Centric company – contain residential apartments.
“It's really important that we get more people living in our city centre,” said Alexis. “People go 'Why aren't there more restaurants and bars in Sheffield city centre?' The simple reason is because there's not enough people there. It's something we need to address.”
He said Sheffield required a ‘denser and more vibrant city centre’.
“If you're in Leeds and Manchester, you either have a choice of living in the city centre in good-quality accommodation or living 10 miles outside on the periphery. The bits in the middle are not great. In Sheffield we can walk to work - we have a great quality of life, there's good housing - but if you layer on top of that the topography, it's difficult to get back into the city centre. Our city centre has to be as magnetic as possible to attract people into it in the evening, to get people to live there. Sheffield will go, in time, from being an eight-hour city which opens at 9am and shuts at 5pm to being an 18-hour city.”
Paul Bedwell, senior director for planning at development consultancy Pegasus Group, an S-PA member, said hotel operators were looking at Sheffield with serious intent.
“There are conversations happening now about niche hospitality providers and the like, about the city as a potentially attractive location for investment,” said Paul. “We've got organisations and commercial entities for whom Sheffield hasn't been on the radar that are starting to recognise it as a suitable place.”
He said that all available land in the middle of the city should be assessed for potential development opportunities.
“We should be getting agitated about looking inside the ring road and seeing vacant sites. We've almost lacked ambition. Surface car parks... one of the consequences of the success of Manchester now is that you used to find there were surface car parks all the way through the city centre. They're not there now.”
Alexis said Castlegate – where Sheffield began – is ‘coming back to life’ as proposals are drawn up for the site cleared when the indoor markets moved to The Moor in 2015.
“We all know about Kollider, and we've now got the Old Town Hall that's going to be brought back, and it's only a matter of time now before the council, with a developer, turns that big hole in the ground into something that generates more business, jobs and income for the city,” said Alexis. “We've got to be respectful of the castle and the ruins, but that's something we should get really excited about.”
By 2030, the S-PA agrees, Sheffield will look very different.
“It will look very different because of the growth and momentum we're going to enjoy, but also in addressing the challenges society is going to face, like the climate emergency,” Alexis said.
Adam Murray, managing director of S-PA member Urbana Town Planning, said Hallam University’s tower – and its overall campus masterplan across from the station – will be crucial.
“It's going to transform that whole gateway,” Adam said.
Alexis said Sheffield’s universities were adept at competing globally for students and research funds. “Our two universities are doing that incredibly well. There are very few organisations in this city that can invest hundreds of millions. Our two universities can do that and they should be commended for it.”
He added: “2020, 2021, 2022 - every year forevermore is about being thoughtful, confident, maintaining momentum in the city, and working together. The only people that are going to make this city better are the people of Sheffield.”