It startled me this week to see progression of plans for a £70m block of apartments for students in place of the Stokes Tiles showroom at the bottom of the Moor.
What is happening to our city? I understand there might be a lack of accommodation for students but turfing them out of Hillsborough and Walkley and clustering them all in the centre – is that a great strategy?
We already know Sheffield’s city centre has had what you can only describe as boom and bust years; the Heart of the City, in my opinion, isn’t exactly beating yet.
Yes our city does need an injection of creativity and energy from the next generation but only if we make the city an engaging and prosperous place for them to be. How many of these graduates will stay in the city and get jobs here? How many of them are Sheffielders in the first place?
It's hard for new business to rely on work contracts and clientele in Sheffield simply because I don’t think we’re truly prospering as a city – yet. But there is hope. BHS might be closing and my heart goes out to all those across the city affected by this horrible tragedy; what will come in these stores’ places? BHS closing is another nail in The Moor’s coffin for sure.
Our city has suffered its battles but for all that we have some fantastic people here. I remember two years ago meeting promising young entrepreneur Ross Horsley who won an enterprise competition in the city, he made use of Sheffield Hallam’s enterprise facilities to start his own company. In years since, we’ve seen young people start up exciting ventures and take their place in new industries like digital at ElectricWorks and we’ve seen young people move into media and the industries through the University Technical College. Our city and the city centre have got some great assets, I think we just need a more holistic plan. A balance of innovation, jobs, sustainability and well-being first and foremost for the people of Sheffield.
Let’s get the foundations right, then we have an even stronger platform to encourage inward investment and people from other cities to come here and contribute to our town.
I challenge our Council and local councillors this week – ask your constituents and young people in the city their ideas on what could make it a great place to live and work.