Urban and economic regeneration schemes began in the late 1980s to diversify the city's economy.
Sheffield is now a centre for banking and insurance functions with HSBC, Santander and Aviva having regional offices in the city. The city has also attracted digital start-ups, with 25,000 now employed in the digital sector, according to Sheffield City Council. The city is also home to two of the country’s largest universities, Sheffield University and Sheffield Hallam University.
On the outskirts of the city the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) is a 100-acre manufacturing technology park, which is part of Sheffield City Region Enterprise Zone. Employers here include McLaren, Rolls-Royce and British Steel.
Sheffield itself has a population of 560,000 people.
The metropolitan district of Sheffield is much larger, with more than 1.5 million people living in the surrounds of the city. The two high-quality universities situated in Sheffield bring in a new wave of young students every year. Both universities are ranked very highly within the UK and Europe, developing each year to attract more and more students to the area. With thousands of students coming to live and study in the area, there is a constant demand for student accommodation. Many students stay on in Sheffield to take jobs in the burgeoning hi-tech, financial and professional sectors.
As a contrast, the beautiful Winter Gardens, one of the largest glasshouses in Europe, create a green oasis in the heart of the city centre. The Peace Gardens, with its fountains and water features and the Botanical Gardens which date from 1836, also provide unique green addition to the city. This blend of old, new and green makes Sheffield a very popular retail and tourist destination.
THE CITY CENTRE
The regeneration of the city centre, epitomised by the £185m Heart of the City project which created a brand-new central professional and retail quarter, has been at catalyst for Sheffield’s economic revival and a magnet for investors.
3 St Paul’s Place, a 78,000 sq ft Grade A office building and part of the Heart of the City development, was recently sold to M&G Real Estate for £24 million. Its occupiers include civil engineers Arup, architects BDP and HLM, leading Swedish bank Handelsbanken and lawyers Freeths with rents at a record high. Meanwhile Heart of the City II, a £470m plan for hotels, shops, a food hall, public spaces and accommodation, is in the pipeline.
New and refurbished office space in the central professional core has been matched by state-of-the-art hotels and boutique restaurants, while locations on the periphery of the central core, such as the Round Foundry, Tower Works and Kirkstall Road, are proving equally popular with office and retail developers.
The regeneration of the city centre, the successful developments on its outskirts and the city’s resilient economy means that Sheffield has become a very desirable place to live and work during the past few years.
Not surprisingly, the demand for residential and commercial property has increased. According to Sheffield City Council, the demand for property including houses, shops, offices and rental property is increasing at a faster rate than it can be provided.
The strength and resilience of the private rental market can also be attributed to the limited number of high-quality centrally-located housing schemes currently available in Sheffield, especially when compared with other regional centres. One example of a successful housing development is the transformation of the Park Lane estate, once an area of social deprivation and now popular with young professionals.