Property investment in Sheffield has received a massive inward flow of investors in the last decade. The population of Sheffield peaked in 1951 at 577,050, and declined for some time, however, the mid-2007 population estimate was 530,300, representing an increase of about 17,000 residents since 2001. Although a city, Sheffield is informally known as “the largest village in England because of a combination of topographical isolation and demographic growth thereby increasing its residential property market significantly. The Sheffield economy is going through a strong revival. The 2004 Barclays Bank Financial Planning study revealed that in 2003 different Sheffield districts were the highest ranking areas outside London for overall wealth, the proportion of people earning over £60,000 a year stands between 10 to 15%. A survey by Knight Frank also revealed that Sheffield was the fastest-growing city outside London for office and residential space and rents in 2004 and it has since experienced steady growth. The economy has experienced stable progress averaging around 7% annually, greater than that of the broader regions around. This can be seen in the current surge of redevelopments, including the City Lofts Tower and accompanying St Paul’s Place, Velocity Living, the Moor redevelopment etc.
Sheffield is a city and metropolitan borough in South Yorkshire, England. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, its name derives from the River Sheaf, which runs through the city. With some of its southern suburbs annexed from Derbyshire, the city has grown from its largely industrial roots to encompass a wider economic base. The population of the City of Sheffield is 593,749 (as of 2014) and it is one of the eight largest regional English cities that make up the Core Cities Group. Sheffield is the third largest English district by population. The metropolitan population of Sheffield is 1,569,000.
In the 19th century, Sheffield gained an international reputation for steel production. Many innovations were developed locally, including crucible and stainless steel, fuelling an almost tenfold increase in the population in the Industrial Revolution. Sheffield received its municipal charter in 1843, becoming the City of Sheffield in 1893. International competition in iron and steel caused a decline in many industries in the 1970s and 1980s, coinciding with the collapse of coal mining in the area but the 21st century has seen extensive redevelopment in Sheffield along with other British cities. Sheffield’s gross value added (GVA) has increased by 76% since 1997, standing at £18.4 billion in 2015.
Sheffield is changing rapidly as new projects regenerate some of the more run-down parts of the city. One such, the Heart of the City Project, has initiated a number of public works in the city centre: the Peace Gardens were renovated in 1998, the Millennium Galleries opened in April 2001, the Winter Gardens were opened in May 2003, and a public space to link these areas, the Millennium Square, was opened in May 2006. Additional developments included the remodelling of Sheaf Square, in front of the recently refurbished railway station. The new square contains “The Cutting Edge”, a sculpture designed by Si Applied Ltd and made from Sheffield steel. This steady growth has managed to attract foreign investors who have found Sheffield to be a fertile ground for investment property development.
On average, from 2004 there has been a yearly population growth of around 6,300, this continues to guarantee the prolonged presence of property investment and demand in the area for the anticipatable future, and furthermore Sheffield being an ancient city with deep traditions ensures the influx of tourists who make up about 3% of the yearly total population. The tourists’ attraction power of this city has generated over 26,000 jobs for the past few years which further stabilises the viability of property investment in the commercial sector.
Sheffield has two universities, the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University. The two combined bring about 60,000 students to the city every year, of course enriching the property investment potentials of the city.
As earlier stated, in Sheffield there are two universities, the Sheffield Hallam University and the prestigious University of Sheffield. These two citadels of learning make up about 60,000 of the influx of students to the city annually. Sheffield University was established in 1897 as University College Sheffield and became the University of Sheffield in 1905. Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) is a university on two sites in Sheffield. City Campus is located in the city centre, close to Sheffield railway station, and Collegiate Crescent Campus is about two miles away, adjacent to Ecclesial Road in south-west Sheffield. The university is the third largest in the UK, with more than 37,000 students (of whom over 4,000 are international students), 4,170 staff and 747 courses and it is a member of the Russell Group, also it is included in the Top 100 best universities in the world according to The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015.
Sheffield Hallam University’s history goes back to 1843 with the establishment of the Sheffield School of Design. During the 1960s several independent colleges (including the School of Design) joined to become Sheffield Polytechnic (Sheffield City Polytechnic from 1976) and was finally renamed Sheffield Hallam University in 1992.
In Sheffield, rental property is being snapped up faster than it can be provided. In a financial climate where purchasing a property is out of reach for many consumers, people are relying on the rental sector to provide homes for themselves. In Sheffield, where the average property costs just under £70,000 and the average monthly rent is £645, landlords are reaping gross gains of more than 11%. This is the highest in Britain and well above the nationwide average of 4.2%. In a list of the top 20 buy-to-let hotspots for January 2015, Sheffield’s postcodes featured three times, according to “This is Money”.
One of the main reasons Sheffield is a top choice for property investment is the presence of two of the UK’s largest Universities. Sheffield has a youthful population and demand for rental property is extremely high. Currently, there are around 60,000 students in Sheffield (The Guardian, May 2015), who represent about 12% of the overall city’s population. Student properties expand from the city centre to ecclesial road in the southwest of Sheffield. It stands as a proper blend of indigenous families and student housing. Presently the principal domiciliary campuses are located at the city centre, close to Sheffield railway station which increases the commerciality of property investment in the area. There are hall designs for both freshmen and post-grads to specifically suit and encourage student living. This has allowed investors to house students over the course of their total stay on campus. Statistics have revealed that in this area, towards the conclusion of the academic year, there is truly a great demand because both foreign and local students are in hot pursuit of a property that suits their respective lifestyles, these students move from property to property trying to get apposite accommodation in readiness for September when school resumes.
Owing to these developments it goes without saying that private landlords being in aggressive competition is only normal, but as of 2014 till date, Sheffield still has a higher student capacity than the housing available, making it a fertile ground for the purchase of investment properties. Student housing are a blend of old apartment and newly designed apartments specifically for student accommodation purposes but because Sheffield is an ancient city the land mass for new buildings are not so much especially in sectors that are in close proximity to the University, this causes more students to move to ready-built apartments to ease learning and reduce the stress of commuting. While applications and student numbers keep growing, the market is far from providing the expected supply of accommodation, and Sheffield city continues to experience unrivalled levels of demand for student beds.
As reported by BBC in November 2014 “Students at many universities including both Sheffield universities have to share single rooms” and that “Thousands of extra places, offered yearly, have meant that the universities have been unable to house all their first-year students in halls of residence hence the majority of this student number growth has been absorbed by the private rented sector in the city.
Sheffield City has a significant amount of new residential development in recent years. This reflects confidence in Sheffield as a place both to invest and live in and recognises its unique offer of location, skills base and quality of life. Indeed, between 2001 and 2015, the City’s resident population increased by 13.4% with over 56,200 persons coming in. Such growth has challenged Sheffield City Council and its partners to better understand the dynamics of the residential investment property market.
Currently, the housing market in Sheffield City, as in many others, is relatively unbalanced. The vast majority of the resident population are aged under 40 years, are single or couple households, typically renting from the private sector with some owner occupation. This population profile has mainly been driven by the predominant supply of one and two bed dwellings on smaller floor plates than would be on offer in suburban developments. There is clearly a role for this type of accommodation in meeting the housing and lifestyle requirements of students and young professionals. There is potential for continued growth in the City Centre housing market in Sheffield. There is a pipeline of sites and schemes, appetite from the private sector to develop and the supporting improvements in the City environment, through recent work and that identified in the City master plan. Development in the City Centre is also needed in order that Sheffield City Council can achieve the housing delivery targets set out in the Regional Spatial Strategy for the city as a whole.
The renaissance of Sheffield City Centre has led to an upsurge in the supply of and demand for residential accommodation. As more employers move into the City, more employees are looking to live close to work. Once a residential population is in place there is an opportunity to support a greater range of amenities and facilities i.e. health care, food retailers, gyms etc. In the current housing market, people are increasingly making decisions on where they want to work based on the quality and affordability of available accommodation in a reasonable commuting distance. Employers too are becoming more aware of this and look to locate or relocate to areas where they will be able to attract the right workforce. Having a resident population in a City like Sheffield also contributes to the feeling of places being ’24 hour’ cities through people visiting bars, clubs, theatres and restaurants rather than places which are only busy during working hours.
Housing has a key role in supporting mixed-use, flexible and sustainable development and Sheffield can position itself now to better respond to office and residential market changes.
After many years of decline, the economy of Sheffield is experiencing a robust renaissance. The district of Hallam in the city of Sheffield has the uppermost ranking in areas asides London for total wealth promotion, the percentage of persons making above £60,000 annually is at 14.3%. Sheffield is the firmest developing city outside London for workplace and residential space, investments and rentals. This is evident in the increasing revitalisations all around the city. The forthcoming NRQ and the recently completed Winter Gardens, Peace Gardens, Millennium Galleries and many projects under the Sheffield One redevelopment agency. The Sheffield economy grew by £5.6 billion in 1997 (1997 GVA) to £9.2 billion in 2007 (2007 GVA) to £18.4 billion in 2015 (2015 GVA).
The “UK Cities Monitor 2008” placed Sheffield among the top ten “best cities to locate a business today”, the city occupying third and fourth places respectively for best office location and best new call centre location. The same report places Sheffield in third place regarding “greenest reputation” and second in terms of the availability of financial incentives.
According to Wikipedia, Sheffield has an international reputation for metallurgy and steel-making. Many innovations in these fields have been made in Sheffield, for example Benjamin Huntsman discovered the crucible technique in the 1740’s at his workshop in Handsworth. Further innovations continue, with new advanced manufacturing technologies and techniques being developed on the Advanced Manufacturing Park by Sheffield’s Universities and other independent research organisations. While iron and steel have long been the main industries of Sheffield, coal mining has also been a major industry, particularly in the outlying areas, and the Palace of Westminster in London was built using limestone from quarries in the nearby village of Anston. Other areas of employment include call centres, the City Council, universities and hospitals.
Sheffield is a major retail centre, and is home to many High Street and department stores as well as designer boutiques. The main shopping areas in the city centre are on The Moor precinct, Fargate, Orchard Square and the Devonshire Quarter. Department stores in the city centre include John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Atkinsons and Debenhams. Sheffield Moor market opened in 2013. Shopping areas outside the city centre include the Meadow hall shopping centre and Retail Park, Ecclesial Road, London Road, Hillsborough, Firth Park and the Crystal Peaks shopping centre. In a 2010 survey of forecast expenditure at retail centres in the United Kingdom, Meadow hall was ranked 12th and Sheffield City Centre 19th.
Sheffield has a District Energy system that exploits the city’s domestic waste, by incinerating it and converting the energy from it to electricity. It also provides hot water, which is distributed through over 40 km of pipes under the city, via two networks. These networks supply heat and hot water for many buildings throughout the city. These include not only cinemas, hospitals, shops and offices, but also universities (Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield), and residential properties. Energy generated in a waste plant produces 60 megawatts of thermal energy and up to 19 megawatts of electrical energy from 225,000 tonnes of waste.
In 2012, Sheffield City Region Enterprise Zone was launched to promote development in a number of sites in Sheffield and across the wider region. In March 2014 additional sites were added to the zone and these zones have experienced massive growths in property development and property investments.
The international popularity of Sheffield in steel making and coal mining makes it a key player not only in the British economy but also the international scenery at large. Sheffield remains one of the fastest growing cities in the UK making it a promising city to make wise investments in all sectors. The high rental yields, skyrocketing GVA, growing elite population, presence of renowned Universities and a positive economic viewpoint indicates that it is unquestionably the most appropriate period for investors to look into Property Investment in the city of Sheffield.