Like many Northern cities, Sheffield suffered through an awful post-industrial decline and has had to redefine itself, something it has done very successfully. Sheffield may not produce many razors these days but it has reinvented itself to be at the cutting edge of modern business, technology and digital and new media. Sheffield saw the highest growth out of any of the ‘Core Cities’ between 1998 and 2007, a 62% expansion in the business base and a 47% expansion in employment.
Sheffield is now a recognised centre for investment in the UK. fDi Intelligence have ranked Sheffield as one of the top 10 cities in Europe in terms of attractiveness to future investors, recognition of how the city has pitched itself as a forward thinking business destination. Large projects such as the £300m expansion of the Meadowhall shopping centre and the £480m redevelopment of the city centre to create a new “Retail Quarter” have captured the imagination of the general public.
The Government’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ scheme is also likely to benefit Sheffield. The HS2 high-speed rail scheme will stop in the city, as part of the journey between Leeds and London, significantly reducing journey times across the country. The improving TransPennine links between Yorkshire and the big North West cities, Manchester and Liverpool, will also help Sheffield in the future. As the Northern economy theoretically blends further into a single, cohesive region, Sheffield will continue to benefit.
The health of the Sheffield housing and rental market is a marker of the progress which has been made and an indicator in the positive future which people and investors can see over the horizon. Recently the Sheffield Telegraph Has begun openly asking if the city is on the verge of a housing boom as prices continue to rise. According to Rightmove, the average house price in Sheffield stands at £171,455. This represents a rise of almost 10% since 2010, confirming the health of the local housing market. Both the Yorkshire Post and Knight Frank Yorkshire remain confident that this growth will continue throughout 2016 and into the future.
The rental market in Sheffield is also strong. According to Home.co.uk, the average rent in the city is £740 pcm making Sheffield roughly equivalent to Liverpool and much more affordable than Manchester and Leeds. That is not to say that the standard of private rental accommodation in Sheffield is below par; on the contrary, developments such as Bells Court offer a modern living experience equal to that in any other major UK city, be in London, Manchester or anywhere else.
Northern cities such as Manchester and Leeds, the endpoints of HS2, continue to draw the most attention and lead the charge of the new Northern economy, but it would be unwise to forget about Sheffield. The Steel City has a history just as illustrious as that of its larger neighbours, and a future just as bright.