There’s an assumption, when looking at the region’s commercial property sector in particular, that people are trying to ride out the current situation – I hesitate to say Brexit – but the trends tend to suggest otherwise.
There is a real mixed bag of development across the Sheffield City Region in particular, but what has been obvious is the rate at which new industrial and commercial properties are being brought to market along the M1 corridor, and further east into areas that have fantastic transport infrastructure.
Whereas we might have expected developments of this sort to have been put on hold for the time being, we are seeing quite the opposite, with more and more speculative development taking place. What’s more is that there is genuine demand for these types of units, both to owner occupiers and investors as businesses expand and also as new businesses move towards our area from outside.
The Sheffield City Region also benefits from having forward-thinking local authorities, decent planners and on-the-ball Chambers of Commerce, lobbying hard and championing the region’s cause.
There is definitely a ‘snowball effect’ here. Where businesses come, so housing, transport, retail, creative, hospitality and leisure follow. The Advanced Manufacturing Park at Waverley in Rotherham is a great example of this, with essentially a whole new town springing up alongside the Sheffield Parkway, which leads into, and out of, Sheffield from the M1.
There also used to be a saying that you’d go west to make your fortune, but in our Sheffield City Region going east seems to be the order of the day, with Rotherham and Doncaster leading the way.
Rotherham has benefited greatly from being renowned as a manufacturing centre, with its rich heritage in this sector and benefits from having large industrial sites ready and available for expansion and development. Work has also already begun on Rotherham’s Gulliver’s Family Theme Park Resort which is set to open next spring.
Doncaster, historically, has often been overshadowed by the success stories of larger towns and cities but to ignore the significance of this town would be to certainly take a myopic view. There are a number of landmark projects in the town, from the expanding Yorkshire Wildlife Park to Doncaster Sheffield Airport, and from the iPort – a vast inland freight network – to a proposed £45m film and television studios at High Melton College. That’s not to mention the HS2 Technical College and proposals for a PGA golf course, which would add a prime leisure destination to the area.
Barnsley has its own success stories too. Look at what’s happening at Capitol Park where, in conjunction with the local authority, bespoke facilities for a number of organisations have been developed.
So where does that leave us? And why the focus on the three towns in the city region and no mention of the city?
Well, there’s still plenty going on in this area too. Sheffield has an incredibly well established, but relatively small, professional services sector, which we are now seeing start to expand with the Heart of the City projects offering long overdue quality office premises and retail/ leisure facilities, all of which will be required to keep pace with the burgeoning advanced manufacturing, creative and digital sectors.
Sheffield’s two universities continue to attract high levels of investment and are real international pull factors to the success of the region. In the city centre itself, you can barely move for the next block of apartments in the private rented sector, whether that is for young professionals or students.
It’s an exciting time for commercial property development across the Sheffield City Region with east certainly not least.