By Jiggy Steiner
Sheffield’s public and City Council may be outraged by the government’s decision to move its business office from the Steel City to London, but Sheffield city centre’s business ‘hub’ continues to blossom.
Plans were announced on January 28th to close the Sheffield office of the BIS (Business, Innovation and Skills) Department at 2 St Pauls Square, and transfer the work done there to London.
Councillor Julie Dore, Leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “It makes no sense to take these jobs from the north and give them to the south.”
“Yet again the actions of this government speak far louder than their empty words about commitment to the north.”
The BIS Department is responsible for the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ initiative aiming to rebalance the economy of the north and south.
An online petition to scrap the closure plans has gained over 4,000 signatures. The government will respond to the petition when it reaches 10,000.
The move is to take place by 2018, and will result in the loss of 290 Sheffield jobs.
However, this move lies in stark contrast to the ongoing emergence of Sheffield city centre as a hub for business.
Statistics obtained by Creative Sheffield showed that office market activity across the city reached a record high in 2015.
This was a 77% increase from 2014, and marked Sheffield’s highest rate of activity since the recession.
Their research also showed that over 65% of the city’s office activity is happening in the city centre.
A number of initiatives are in the works, including the delivery of Sheffield’s Retail Quarter, the redevelopment of The Moor, and the completion of the office development at 3 St Paul’s Place.
The retail quarter plans are the largest in scale of the forthcoming initiatives; they aim to transform areas around Barker’s Pool, Pinstone Street and Moorhead, providing new central homes, offices and restaurants.
The proposals include the extension of Fargate as Sheffield’s premier shopping street, to attract new and bigger retailers.
The plans are expected to receive an investment of around £480m, and promise to create around 2500 jobs in the city centre.
It is predicted that the plans will be carried out by 2021, and, with the help of Meadowhall Centre, will move Sheffield into the UK’s top 10 retail centres.
Why is Sheffield appealing for new businesses?
Sheffield is the fourth-largest city in the UK, and offers businesses an opportunity to relocate from cities such as London, and invest in the city centre.
Its close proximity to the Peak District, relatively low cost of living and excellent leisure facilities all make for a high quality of life, supporting the city’s attraction.
Kiefer Lee, principal lecturer in marketing at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “A number of initiatives have been put together in Sheffield to facilitate new businesses, which provides a good starting point for those who are looking to start a business.”