Chinese investment for city of the future

News: Sheffield Telegraph online 24-hours a day.
News: Sheffield Telegraph online 24-hours a day.

A big ‘multi-cultural’ residential and business development is being lined up with the aim of building on the success of the vibrant and cosmopolitan London Road area.

Chinese investment is due to finance the plans to transform land near St Mary’s Gate roundabout which include a 21-storey tower of student accommodation.

The block – the tallest of four – would rise above a central plaza fringed by shops and cafes, seen as a potential location for live music, arts performances and video screens.

Altogether, 695 student bedrooms are proposed as part of New Era Square, which would be off St Mary’s Road and Bramall Lane, opposite St Mary’s Church. Units would also be created for small firms, such as accountants and solicitors, and for start-up businesses.

Part of the site is currently vacant, the rest is occupied by a used car dealership, an electroplating works and a Chinese supermarket. A new and bigger supermarket is part of the scheme.

Already the Bramall Lane and London Road area has a large student population. It would be swelled considerably as a result of New Era, which is designed to integrate students into the community.

But one of the key aims is to strengthen links with the many Chinese and other businesses around London Road.

Sheffield-based architects Hadfield Cawkwell Davidson, who are working on the scheme, say: “The economic benefits that the scheme can bring to the city are potentially very great.

“First, finance for the development is coming from China, bringing substantial overseas investment into the city.”

It would also bring together independent retailers and other businesses.

The architects add: “The London Road area is already a successful multi-cultural trading area with many excellent shops and restaurants. This development will extend and reinforce the importance of the area, attracting new customers and business.”

Full details of the proposed development will be given by the investors on Monday.

Plans have been submitted to the council, and planners will check that they fit in with the surroundings, especially St Mary’s Church and the John Street Conservation Area, and will not cause traffic or other problems.

Student accommodation in the 21-storey block would comprise 423 en-suite studios, while there would be the more usual student cluster flats in the other blocks, of five, six, seven and nine storeys. The main tower would also have 12 private apartments and two penthouse apartments.

The central plaza is described as a place to “meet, sit, eat, drink, socialise and carry out business”.

The London Road area has been the focalpoint for the local Chinese community for many years, and has many Chinese and other ethnic restaurants.

Meanwhile, thousands of students have come to Sheffield’s two universities from China, Malaysia and Singapore.

Now the aim is to capitalise on all of this.

“The multi-cultural offering of London Road is becoming an increasingly vibrant destination within the city and the proposed development seeks to expand ion this and highlight the commercial successful success and potential for the area,” the council is being told.