Stunning aerial picture shows Sheffield is forging ahead in the development stakes

To fully appreciate the pace of change in Sheffield, take to the skies.

Thursday, 10th May 2018, 5:16 pm
Updated Friday, 1st June 2018, 10:32 am
Sheffield city centre from above, showing the sites of planned developments and works in progress. Picture: Adam Murray

From a high vantage point, tower cranes needed for intriguing developments are visible on the skyline and sites earmarked for schemes worth many millions of pounds can be surveyed, from apartments and modern offices to new shops.

Adam Murray, director of the Coda Planning consultancy in Kelham Island, managed to get a stunning view of the city centre when a drone was sent up a client to take several pictures - the best of which offers a finely-detailed panorama of the middle of Sheffield.

In the foreground, on Hoyle Street beside the Shalesmoor roundabout, is a large, disused patch of land that will be used for a Coda venture - a £45m complex of nearly 500 private rented flats in five blocks, one of which will reach 20 storeys, along with public squares, townhouses and commercial units.

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Next door is The Nichols Building, a former grocer's warehouse that is to become Nichols & Co, a £6m home for new shops, cafés and bars as well as almost 50 apartments due for completion in December 2019. Further back stands the distinctive, exceptionally rare cementation furnace, a relic of Sheffield's steel industry. The adjacent former HSBC offices will be knocked down in favour of a £70m development of 247 residential apartments and flats for 658 students, keeping the Grade II-listed furnace at its core.

To the left - in Kelham Island behind Krynkl, the first retail, leisure and dining destination to be built from shipping containers in Sheffield - are the Dun Works apartments which are rapidly approaching completion.

Then, further afield, the first phase of Sheffield's council-led Heart of the City II masterplan - new offices for HSBC, as well as shops - is taking shape and the revamp of the former NUM headquarters off Barker's Pool can just be picked out.

The tallest crane of all soars into the blue. Beneath it lies the shell of an 18-storey tower fronting Broad Lane, part of the 400,000 sq ft Hollis Croft project that will accommodate almost 1,000 students.

"It's fantastic," said Adam of the drone picture. "We're all for the good of Sheffield and the economy improving - delivering all the social benefits that an improving economy can do to make the city better. We're the worst performing city of the core cities in the UK, and so we need a growing economy to sort that out. And all the development can only be a good sign."

Student schemes have dominated, he admitted, but these have had the effect of 'improving the urban area'. "Now the urban area is of a standard where residential developers are looking to develop - like our scheme, for example, and a number of other ones that are starting to come forward as well. It's becoming a better place to live. Which obviously then helps with delivering more housing, which is required across the whole city."

Sheffield has lagged behind by not providing enough high-specification offices to generate more jobs - but this is being addressed.

"Everyone's well aware of it in the industry, the council are well aware of it, sites are being put forward," said Adam. "We know we've got a fantastic core around the heart of the city, and the new HSBC building going up, but we need to do more in that regard. We need to get some schemes in and permissions for office developments because of the demand. And that's Grade A office space, as well."

Nevertheless, he stated, the level of enthusiasm for Sheffield is unprecedented.

"In my lifetime I've never seen such a positive position in the city. Even in the last boom years we didn't see this kind of activity - the companies that are moving in to the city and basing new workforces here, along with all that new residential capacity."

He agreed that, should a drone be sent up in 10 years' time, the landscape would look dramatically different. "It certainly will. These areas coming forward are absolutely critical to us building the city centre we need for a stronger city and, in addition to that, a stronger city region."