Seven years after the completion of a £25m upgrade to Sheffield railway station the value of commercial property in the area has increased by two-thirds and almost 3,000 new jobs have been created.
The figures were revealed during a parliamentary committee hearing which was told that at least £74m of traditional investment would have been needed to achieve the same results — three times more than the Sheffield Gateway project.
Submitted in written evidence to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Select Committee — which is examining the economic case for the HS2 project — the company behind the high speed rail link claimed that rateable values for properties within 400 metres of Sheffield station had increased by 67 per cent, from £8.7m to £14.7m.
The Government-established rail company stated the increase in rateable values close to the station was “more than three times the corresponding increase for Sheffield as a whole, and reflects the increase in both the quantity of commercial development and value per square foot”.
It went on to claim: “New or renovated stations can have a considerable impact upon their locale by improving appearance, improving retail and leisure offerings and increasing non-travel footfall.”
More important, the committee was told, was the need for cities to take advantage of the network’s arrival. The new line, HS2 Ltd said, “is a key catalyst for northern city regeneration, not simply as a means to shorten journey times. HS2 will also generate economic opportunities and development, beyond the direct expenditure, which can deliver significant benefits to local economies”.
In London, the company estimated the £15bn investment in the Crossrail scheme “could help create additional residential and commercial value of as much as £5.5bn along the route between 2012 and 2021”.
During the five year Sheffield Gateway project the station itself received a new ticket office, waiting areas, extensive work to platforms and canopies and an extended concourse area with new shops and cafes. The improvements were so impressive that they won the coveted Project of the Year Award in the 2006 National Rail Awards.
Footfall through the 1870-built station also increased. It is now the 35th busiest in the UK and the 11th busiest station outside London.
Sheaf Square, on to which the station opens, was redesigned with water features, trees, seating and a new tram hub. Access was also improved to adjoining offices and retail malls.
“The redevelopment of Sheffield station and Sheaf Square has provided the city with a modern, world class, quality entrance to the city,” commented Jan Wilson, then leader of Sheffield City Council.
“It’s absolutely crucial that the city’s station gives the right impression to visitors and business people as well as being an excellent public transport facility for the people of Sheffield to use and we have certainly achieved that,” she stressed.
“So many people’s first view of the city is from the station, so it’s absolutely right that investment has gone in to make it vibrant, modern, safe and welcoming.”
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