Sheffield nets massive £1bn Chinese investment deal

Sheffield City Hall. (Photo courtesy of Sheffield City Council).

Sheffield City Council has agreed a £1bn 60-year partnership with Sichuan Guodong Construction Group to fund major city centre development projects in the city. 

The ground-breaking investment is the first deal of its kind with a UK city and the first tranche of funding is expected to be worth £220m to fund up to five city centre projects over the next five years.

The projects are thought to include retail, office and residential developments and also a new five-star hotel for the city. City council leaders say the deal will create thousands of jobs in the city centre and boost the local economy. As yet, it has not been decided what the money will be spent on but it is expected that a decision-making board made up of representatives from the council and the construction group will meet every six months to decide on investments.

Commenting on the deal, Sheffield City Council leader Julie Dore said: “This is the biggest Chinese investment deal to be made by a UK city outside of London. And perhaps more importantly it is first deal of its kind to be made by a UK city. This is a real partnership. 

“The projects funded by this investment will be determined by Sheffield City Council, and the 60-year commitment secures a stream of investment into our city for the next generation, and means a whole range of projects become viable because of the long-term nature of the relationship. At a time of unprecedented uncertainty and turmoil on the national political scene, we have taken the bull by the horns and led by example here in Sheffield.”

The deal between Sheffield City Council and Sichuan Guodong Construction Group has been negotiated over 18 months and was announced after council leaders returned from a visit to Chengdu, Sheffield’s sister city and the fifth largest in China.

Deputy leader of the council, Leigh Bramall, was keen to stress the business benefits of the deal. “Sichuan Guodong Construction Group have decided to invest here because they recognise the potential of Sheffield’s economy to grow,” he said. “The first wave of projects we expect to happen in the next three years. They will be developments within the inner-ring road.” 

The council will be involved in deciding which schemes get funding and could supply land or carry out preparation work if this helped to unlock investment, said Bramall. “We are clear that this will create hundreds, if not thousands, of additional jobs for the people of Sheffield. The investment comes from China, but the workforce on these projects will be British,” he said.

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