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Sheffield shows its mettle: The Steel City’s resurgence

While Leeds has been widely celebrated as a pre-eminent regional powerhouse over the last 15 years, I believe that other Yorkshire locations deserve more of the limelight for their economic performance and job creation.

One of these is the neighbouring Sheffield City Region (SCR), which having emerged from the long shadow of post-industrial slump, has reinvented and rebranded itself as a dynamic base for both emerging and traditional sectors.

A high tech centre and incubation hub for start-ups and micro business with a flourishing professional services contingent, the SCR is also home to manufacturers, large employers and FTSE 100 companies – and a significant rural economy.

Now a destination of choice for employees, students, shoppers and tourists alike, prominent sectors include advanced manufacturing, financial and legal, IT, digital and creative, retail, low carbon and sport and leisure.

The City Region’s diverse enterprises cover the core city, other centres and market towns and breathtaking countryside. According to the Sheffield LEP, it is home to 1.8 million people, 700,000 jobs and 44,700 companies, which all add up to an annual output of more than £28.2 billion.

It benefits from the most advanced gigabit broadband delivery available, as well as transport connections that have been massively improved in recent years. HS2 will add further economic impetus when it arrives at Sheffield Meadowhall, in 2032/33.

Understandably, the City Region is attracting the sort of inward investment that any location would be proud to welcome. In January 2015, plans were approved for a £65 million property scheme, backed by Chinese investors called New Era Square which will create some 400 jobs.

The scheme will comprise a 21-storey mixed leisure, commercial and residential development across three buildings near the city centre. The proposed development includes 695 student bedrooms, private and business accommodation, a Chinese supermarket and public plaza.

Vida Architecture is delighted to witness at first hand the booming demand for student accommodation – and is involved in dynamic schemes which welcome to fruition this year.

Additional recent investments across the SCR span the £400 million, US backed, Peak Resort near Chesterfield and the planned Digital Campus Sheffield – a £20 million city centre development that will accommodate 1,300 creative and digital workers.

Meanwhile, the University of Sheffield’s new £43 million advanced manufacturing centre is set to open by the end of the year. In addition, more space will be made for high technology start-ups by a £4.2 million site on the existing Advanced Manufacturing Park and a global hub for the next generation of rail engineers is planned in Doncaster.

I believe that the City Region’s excellent LEP should be congratulated heartily for the key role it has played in this resurgence – and, clearly not an organisation to rest on its laurels, for its ambition and commitment to grow the economy further with 70,000 new jobs across 6,000 new businesses.

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