How big development schemes have changed Sheffield in 2019 – ‘We’ve maintained our momentum’
The pace of change in Sheffield has accelerated in 2019, property experts say – as the redevelopment of the city centre has finally begun to bear fruit and new types of residential homes have launched alongside more high-quality places to work.
The roll call of schemes completed this year makes an impressive list.
Grosvenor House – the £85 million, seven-storey block in the revamped Charter Square – leads the way. New Grade A offices for the HSBC bank opened there in summer, while fashion chains Monki and Weekday are now trading in units underneath, with a new Marmadukes café coming shortly.
Significantly, the building is the first finished element of Heart of the City II, the £500 million council-backed project that is the successor to Sevenstone, the shopping district that was the subject of a planning application as long ago as 2005 but stalled during the recession.
The first purpose-built build-to-rent development opened in Sheffield this year too. Brook Place, Grainger plc’s £30 million scheme on Summerfield Street close to Ecclesall Road and the Waitrose supermarket, comprises 237 apartments that are only available through tenancy agreements. These range from studio flats to three-bed properties, alongside mod cons such as a 24-hour gym, co-working spaces and an 'experience kitchen' that contains the type of specialist equipment owned by professional chefs.
Meanwhile, the completion of further large student accommodation complexes proved there is still room in the market for such ventures in Sheffield. Hollis Croft, which caters for more than 900 students and has a 17-storey tower, opened in September, as did the giant LIVStudent building on Ecclesall Road.
The long-awaited revival of the former National Union of Mineworkers headquarters happened in earnest when, in February, accountancy firm Grant Thornton moved local staff into new offices at the site next to Sheffield City Hall.
Events and conferencing venue The OEC – beside Owlerton Stadium – launched in November, Sheffield Hallam University opened its National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering in October, and the Astrea Academy secondary school and sixth form for 950 young people was completed in September.
“For a number of reasons the city has built some momentum over recent years,” said Alexis Krachai, chief executive of the Sheffield Property Association, made up of developers, construction firms and architects among others.
“In 2019 you can say with absolute confidence we've maintained that momentum. The property association would argue that we've quickened the pace - the momentum is building but it's not reached its full potential yet.”
Adam Murray, managing director of S-PA member Urbana Town Planning, said the opening of HSBC’s offices and their associated shops was ‘pretty huge’.
“Retail doesn't have the impact it used to, but the fact we're bringing new retailers into the city at a time when they're dispersing everywhere else is awesome,” he said.
Alexis added: “The council should be commended for showing the leadership it has done by not allowing a huge retail scheme to be built in the heart of the city, and to be now in a position to attract world-class companies into Sheffield city centre, which makes it an attractive place for retailers to invest in our high street.”
The redevelopment of The Moor continued in 2019 with new stores for H&M and Next, as well as the introduction of a ‘boutique bowling alley’, Lane7.
“I walk to the gym down at the bottom of The Moor and when I go down there it is rammed, no matter what time of day,” said Adam. “It used to be a ghost town. So there is already that difference.”
Adam said the emergence of build-to-rent in Sheffield was ‘another success’.
“It changes the game from it being 'student city' and enables more people to live in the city,” he said. “But also it allows for a mix of units.”
Alexis pointed out that bids were lodged this year for substantial funding that would pay for ‘really important infrastructure improvements’, including £85 million for public transport and money to unlock sites in Neepsend.
“Property exists within a context shaped by infrastructure,” said Alexis.
Paul Bedwell, senior director for planning at development consultancy Pegasus Group, another S-PA member, said Sheffield was creating ‘a better and more attractive environment for future investment’.
“I think it needs to be said that the investment, historically, in public realm in Sheffield is starting to pay benefits,” said Paul. “The fact we've got such strong public spaces in the city centre that have become destinations in their own right – summertime in the Peace Gardens and the like – means these things are good attractors.”
Alexis concluded: “In the last 18 to 24 months in the city we've had a really good run. The only thing that's going to stop that run is us.”