Key figures in transformation met to discuss the vision for Sheffield 2025, and a potential shift from student accommodation to high-quality residential redevelopment in the next few years.
Student apartments work financially for developers, but we need to see resistance from the city and encourage ‘brave’ developers to take the plunge and build more high-quality residential housing.
That was one of the messages at the ‘Sheffield 2025: Bigger, Brighter, Bolder’ event on Thursday evening, organised by the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce (SPARC).
The night centred around a discussion by a panel of individuals who hold key roles in the development of the city, in which they spoke of their aspirations for Sheffield and how, along with the crowds of businessmen and women in attendance, they could achieve them.
The conversation kicked off with thoughts on Sheffield, with the city being described as ‘creative’, ‘inventive’ and full of ‘swagger’.
But, things soon delved a little deeper when a question of whether Sheffield had reached its peak for student accommodation was raised – potentially triggered by the rise in the number of student developments in recent years.
Tim Bottrill, founder of Colloco, said we may have to wait for the current apartments to reach completion, but that over the next few years there could well be a similar rise in residential developments.
He said: “The student market in Sheffield is maturing. We’re not far off the peak. The next few years will see more PRS schemes coming forward.”
Paul Sargent, Chief executive of Queensberry - the council's development partner on the retail quarter – also spoke of the joint decision to build 600 residential units within the Heart of the City project, after a discussion about the number of student apartment blocks in Sheffield.
He also revealed that cranes would be up by April, as the £500 million scheme looked to move into its next phase.
However, it was Tim Heatley Capital&Centric – who are drawing up plans to convert a Grade II-listed former cutlery works near The Moor – who encouraged developers to break the mould, and shift to a higher quality of residential housing in hopes of sparking the trend.
“We deserve better and we can do better,” he added. “And we need to demand that from incoming developers. We need to be a model for other cities.
“It’s not about property, it’s about people. We need to push the bar with the quality of regeneration schemes. We shouldn’t settle for mediocre. Sheffield needs to harness the power of collaboration to achieve this.”