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Cities to Invest: Sheffield

Sheffield, Yorkshire’s Steel City is at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse.

During the 19th Century, Sheffield was one of the world’s most renowned cities for steel production, innovating the industry. In the 1970s and 1980s international competition caused the decline of the industry, coinciding with the collapse of coal mining, and other trades that had driven the local economy.

Since 2000 the city has undergone extensive redevelopment, and annually sees 5% growth, greater than the wider Yorkshire and Humber region.

At the heart of Sheffield’s industry was Kelham Island, the home of numerous steel and cutlery works, factories, and workshops. Today, the remnants of the manufacturing sites house: independent shopping outlets, microbreweries, and galleries; making it one of the city’s most exciting areas. A proud reminder of the man-made island’s industrial history is the Kelham Island Museum, which displays Europe’s largest working steam engine, the Bessemer Converter. The Quarter comes alive at night with a new industry of renowned, award-winning breweries, iconic restaurants, and the monthly Peddler street food market.

Sheffield is evolving and growing but as in the past is incredibly proud of its dominant industries, and today, that includes retail sector. Home to Meadowhall, Yorkshire’s biggest shopping centre, and the UK’s eighth largest, developments that bring brands to the city have been a priority. Plans for the Heart of the City II development have faced numerous amendments, as the relationship between high streets and online stores changes the way people shop. Promising restaurants, cafes, a food hall, cinemas, retail outlets, residential accommodation, and office spaces. As the project has evolved, to better accommodate retailers and shopping habits, the city centre has become an attractive location for premium retail brands.

Key to skilled industry jobs and long-term employment opportunities is education. In 2018, Sheffield Hallam University launched the National Centre of Excellence for Degree Apprenticeships. One of the leading universities in Degree Apprenticeships, the Centre will mean Sheffield Hallam can increase the number of placements available in a variety of diverse industries, including: healthcare, construction, engineering, and computing. By the 2020/2021 academic year, the university is expected to have taken on over 2000 apprentices. The National Centre of Excellence for Degree Apprenticeships is an innovative way of providing opportunities for those who may not have otherwise considered higher education, narrowing current and future skills gaps, and driving economic growth.

With two universities (Sheffield Hallam and University of Sheffield) and a student population of around 60,000, demand for accommodation is high. Sheffield city centre is a prime spot for student flats and houses, that offer a wide range of amenities, such as: launderettes and leisure spaces for residents. For investors, student accommodation is a well-performing, high yielding asset that will always have a market.

The city’s appetite for change has made it a hotspot for foreign investment. In the wake of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, a major Chinese company was enticed to make a £1 billion investment. Plans for Sheffield include: residential tower blocks, redevelopment of Central Library, and a luxury 5-star hotel. Viewing Sheffield as at the beginning of a transition period, Chinese investors are known to be incredibly excited by the opportunities available in, and prospects of the city.

Collaboration with its closest neighbours has also had a significant impact on the city’s plans. Working alongside Doncaster, the Sheffield City Region plans to create a logistics and manufacturing hub at Aero Centre Yorkshire; the wider site that surrounds Doncaster Sheffield Airport. The development is expected to provide upwards of 5000 jobs and generate £1.94 billion for the region, once fully operational.

Recently Sheffield welcomed British supercar company McLaren to the region as they opened a new factory, set to boost the local economy by £100 million over 10 years. The firm also bases some of its workforce at the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.

Sheffield is spearheading innovation across numerous sectors by placing education and industry experience at the forefront of its plans. Business confidence in the city has never been higher, largely due to its commitment to raising aspirations, productivity, and growing the regional economy.

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