Sheffield's student accommodation market is booming, as the city is set to witness not one, not two, but three major property redevelopments. The council had already given the green light for 138 student apartments to be built on Suffolk Road in the former WW Laycock and Sons building, as well as a four-storey block of 21 two-bed flats has also been approved in the suburb of Sharrow Vale. Now they are also seriously considering a £35 million scheme to regenerate a site on Ecclesall Road.
Sheffield-based Hallminster Ltd argued that this latest proposal will be a major boost to the area and the local economy, creating 300 jobs during the construction phase and 100 or more permanent jobs afterwards. Hallminster representative Dan Simpson said: "It's an important mixed use scheme for Ecclesall Road, on a site that has been long overdue for redevelopment. It will be a very high quality project with a community feel and will bring that part of the road alive, providing an important link between Ecclesall Road and the city centre."
The current scheme includes two buildings, one with approximately 120 residential apartments, and the other with 44 student apartments, each having comprehensive shared facilities, which are expected to be extremely hi-tech. There will also be shops and other outlets on the ground level, in-keeping with the character of Ecclesal Road. Public consultation is being held ahead of a planning application being submitted to the council, but it is hoped that construction will start in Autumn 2015, ready for the first residents in summer 2017.
As ever though the plans risk being opposed by locals who fear studentification. Shelley Cockayne, chairman of the Sharrow Vale Community Association, argued that "the Association was set up to keep the area clean and tidy and most of the problems are because of students in the area.' Similarly, others have expressed worries about the amount of noise these construction sites will create. Alex Barrymore, of Alloy Steel Melting Co (who are the suppliers for the Suffolk Road apartments), said that he was concerned that the students will find the noise unbearable. He said, "It's impossible to take out an operation like ours without a considerable amount of noise... I'm concerned complaints in the future will put constraints on our operation, which will significantly affect our ability to provide a cost effective service to our customers."
Nonetheless, the Ecclesall Road project reflects the surge of interest among developers in sites on the edge of the city centre, especially around the south west. Land between nearby London Road and Bramall Lane has already been designated for the New Era Square 'Chinatown' development of student accommodation, shops, business incubator units, offices, and food and drink outlets - an investment of over £65 million, and Sheffield can only imagine the returns.