Students devise plans for economic regeneration in Sheffield

SheffieldStudents at the University of Sheffield have devised plans for economic regeneration in Sheffield which have been presented to Sheffield City Council for consideration.

The third year Economics students devised projects addressing problems ranging from homelessness to the lack of a central business district in the city. The 15 projects were presented to members of the council’s Policy, Partnership and Research team last week.

These projects were part of a new module led by Professor David Cuberes, a Lecturer at the Economics Department, expert on urban economics and a consultant for the World Bank on topics related to urbanisation and infrastructure. The module was supported by the University of Sheffield Enterprise (USE).

A judging panel of members of the council, lecturers from the Department of Economics and members of USE, voted Redevelopment of Park Hill Flats and the Effect on Crime Rates in the Area as the winning project. The project looked at how the regeneration of the Park Hill flats had affected crime rates and how future investment might impact the area.

First built in 1961 as part of a post-war slum clearance scheme, Park Hill was innovative at the time it was built, but its name became synonymous with crime during the 1980s. The building was granted Grade II conservation status in 1998 and in 2004 £146 million was invested in the re-development of Park Hill.

The students found that, following the redevelopment, crime rates in the area have fallen from a peak of 624 in 2006 down to 309 in 2011 and just 224 so far in 2012.

The students used data obtained from South Yorkshire Police and compared it with data relating to a similar regeneration project across the Pennines in Hulme, from the Greater Manchester Police. The results showed that the reduction in crime rates were higher in Park Hill than in the Hulme development, and revealed that further investment and continued development would result not only in lower crime rates but also see a reduction in other social problems.

Robert Sankey, 22, said: “Sheffield is a safe city, but every city has problems with crime. Research has shown that spending alone is not enough to tackle crime levels, it has to be well thought-out and targeted in the right areas.”

Peter Gibson, 21, said: “Looking at the example in Hume, it wasn’t just redeveloping the flats - they built a nursery, shops, restaurants, creating a proper community. That’s the kind of thing that makes a difference – not just to crime rates but things like unemployment, antisocial behaviour, deprivation.”

Robert said: “We’re hoping the council will see that what they’ve done so far is working, and that they should continue and do more. This area of the city was once a no-go zone but it is an iconic feature of the landscape and could be the heart of the community, if they continue to invest and fight against the effects of the recession.”

Professor Cuberes, leader of the module, said: “One of the main aims of this new module was to engage students with real life problems. In particular, they were asked to identify and tackle a current urban problem in the city of Sheffield. Working in groups meant the students could enhance the generation of interesting problems and creative solutions. The winning project carried out a very thoughtful and careful analysis of the real effects that economic regeneration can have on a city’s level of crime. The team did a remarkable job in finding appropriate data and compare it with the experience of a similar project in Manchester.”

James Henderson, Director of Policy, Partnership and Research for Sheffield City Council said: "It is great to see a new wave of talent at Sheffield University looking into economic regeneration. This is a critical part of Sheffield’s future economic competitiveness to create great places to live, work and spend leisure time – to create a city we can be proud of. Projects such as the Peace Gardens and Sheffield Station have helped transform Sheffield's image over the last two decades and this needs to continue. So it is great to see these students taking such an interest and good luck to them in the future."

Additional information

The University of Sheffield

With nearly 25,000 students from 125 countries, the University of Sheffield is one of the UK’s leading and largest universities. A member of the Russell Group, it has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. The University of Sheffield was named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards 2011 for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, and 2007).

These prestigious awards recognise outstanding contributions by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield also boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and many of its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence around the world. The University’s research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, ICI, Slazenger, and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

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