Local political differences in the Sheffield city region and a desire among some parties for a Yorkshire wide devolution deal are threatening to disrupt the progress of the second northern powerhouse, according to Sheffield City Council's Head of City Centre Development, Nalin Seneviratne, who spoke at our recent 'Healthy Cities' forum in London.
If Doncaster and Barnsley can work with Rotherham and Sheffield, he stated, the opportunities are very good indeed but differences need to be overcome to unlock the £30 million government funding available. See video clip above.
On development within the city, Nalin talked about how Sheffield is in the middle of a project to make the heart of the city more appealing for people to live and work. He explained that while the proximity of the Peak District National Park makes it a green conurbation with four and half million trees within the city boundary - perhaps the greenest in Europe - the city centre requires attention.
On the city centre he said focus on retail as basis for regeneration has moved on: 'There was a time, when people thought more shopping centres were the answer, but retail is changing.
'We were saved by economic recession and the market failure of earlier schemes. In 2012 the city council took back control from developers and it now leads on making a 21 acre central site work for the city. Bringing back more businesses and creating new homes in the centre, will feed the retail offer to make the city more vibrant.
'Our first tenant is HSBC which has taken 140,000 square feet for the UK bank. People now want to be in the city centre where they have easy, walk-able access to shops, bars and restaurants. We have also secured a residential deal with a US fund for 350 homes.
'Sheffield was known historically for steel and the city centre still has small scale manufacturing. We want to build on that heritage of 'little mesters' who were carrying out the piece work for the cutlery industry. Collaborative working is driving business interest in the city centre because by locating there it is great for ideas. We also have two universities with 60,000 students and research academics nearby.