Students poised to move in at Sheffield's £65m New Era development

New Era Square takes shape - the first completed student flats are on the right. Picture by Andrew Roe
New Era Square takes shape - the first completed student flats are on the right. Picture by Andrew Roe

The first residents are set to move in to Sheffield's £65 million 'Chinatown' scheme in less than a month's time with only 'finishing touches' needed to the site's initial block - and work on the next stages is on schedule.

New Era Square, which is taking shape between London Road and Bramall Lane, will eventually house nearly 600 students in studio flats, which are being built alongside private apartments, shops, offices, restaurants and an Oriental supermarket.

Jerry Cheung, Robert Bancroft and Tom Lawrence inside one of the finished studio flats at the New Era development. Picture by Andrew Roe

Jerry Cheung, Robert Bancroft and Tom Lawrence inside one of the finished studio flats at the New Era development. Picture by Andrew Roe

In total, 102 students will live in the first completed block, with arrivals anticipated from September 1.

"We're just doing the final touches now, bringing in furniture and finishing the fit-out," said marketing director Caroline Foster.

Meanwhile the scheme's second building should be finished as early as December, comprising more accommodation and retail units. An entire floor is being given over to a student common room, featuring a gym, private cinema and a large kitchen, among other facilities.

The development's key component, the 21-storey Jade Tower that will join the ranks of Sheffield's tallest high-rise structures, is expected to be completed next May.

The 21-storey tower is well under way at New Era Square, between London Road and Bramall Lane in Sheffield. Picture by Andrew Roe

The 21-storey tower is well under way at New Era Square, between London Road and Bramall Lane in Sheffield. Picture by Andrew Roe

Phase one incorporates 14 retail spaces - 11 small kiosks and three bigger units - plus new premises for the KH supermarket which, once relocated from its present spot nearby, will allow construction of the second phase to begin.

Ms Foster said retailers and operators had shown 'a lot of interest'.

"We've not got anybody formally signed up yet, we're still going through that process," she added.

"We've had interest from sushi restaurants, coffee shops, a pizza place and a Chinese place. We're still talking to Costa Coffee and Dunkin' Donuts."

At the development's heart will be a public square covering around 1,200 sq m - roughly the size of four-and-a-half tennis courts.

The project has been driven by Hong Kong-born businessman Jerry Cheung, managing director of New Era Development Ltd, who first began exploring the idea of a Chinatown in Sheffield more than a decade ago. The original concept included a casino and hotel.

Mr Cheung hopes New Era Square will host events throughout the year, marking Chinese New Year and Diwali, as well as offering a venue for activities such as the Sheffield Food Festival.

The development will also harbour a 'Business Incubator', helping local companies to explore potential links with China, and Chinese companies seeking to invest in the UK.

Despite still being a work in progress, the scheme has won its first awards. The team picked up two honours at the 2017 Construction Investing In Talent ceremony, including the prize for 'best project to work on'.

"Everybody really is coming together to build something fantastic, which will add enormous economic and community value to the city," said Mr Cheung.

Ms Foster said: "We're really excited to welcome the new students in September.

"We have a whole variety of students from both universities. And, to reiterate, it's not just Chinese students either. A mix of people are coming to live here. It will be cosmopolitan - a multicultural corner of the city."