22 November 2016

An ambitious project to develop a five star hotel in Sheffield can today be revealed as part of the city’s partnership with Chinese construction company Sichuan Guodong Group.

The partnership which was announced in the summer, is the biggest deal with a Chinese investment partner of any UK city outside London. Four months on the council can reveal the first two projects that Sichuan Guodong are looking to develop, which will be delivered in an update on the city’s partnerships with China to cabinet next week.

Sichuan Guodong will assess the feasibility of using the current Central Library building to develop the hotel, which would see the Central Library moved to another site in the city centre. They have committed to maintain the current Graves Art Gallery with full public access, if the option of using the library building to develop a hotel becomes viable.

In addition to the proposal for a five star hotel Sichuan Guodong are looking to undertake a private residential development scheme in the West Bar area of the city.

The report will also reveal details of a ground-breaking educational partnership that has been developed between the city and Chengdu, in which the city of Chengdu will be developing a Sheffield school, the report also details trade agreements between Sheffield and the Chinese cities of Nanchang and Daqing.

Councillor Leigh Bramall, Deputy Leader of Sheffield City Council, said:

“We are four months down the line from signing this historic deal with Sichuan Guodong Group. There has been a huge amount of work to progress these projects and ensure that this investment will deliver real benefits for people in Sheffield.

“When we announced this partnership in the summer we said that it had the potential to be transformational for the city, unlocking hundreds of millions of pounds for the regeneration of the city centre. Delivering a five-star hotel in the city is exactly what Sheffield needs to support the vibrant, growing city centre we need.

“It’s important to be absolutely clear though that nothing is a done deal here. We are still at the early stages and this approval starts a 12-month process where Guodong will scope out the feasibility of the project.

“This gives us the time we need to look into the best options for the central library service, and we are absolutely clear that we will only do the final deal on this project if it is right for the city.”

Councillor Jack Scott, Cabinet Member for Community Services and Libraries, said:

“The truth is that the central library building is not currently fit for purpose or accessible, and would require tens of millions of investment, to house the fantastic modern library service that our city needs and deserves. I understand that people want security and information about what will happen to the service. So we are being transparent about the process that we are going through.

“We know that library services are hugely important to people in Sheffield, and they are to me too. I can give absolute assurances that no matter what the outcome here, there will always be a city centre library in Sheffield. We will be using this twelve-month period to scope out options for where we want to locate the service if the deal with Guodong UK Limited does go ahead, and are talking to people in Sheffield about what they would like to see.”

A public meeting to address any further questions people may have about the Central Library will take place as part of on-going public consultation on the 6th December at 5.30 – 7.30 pm in the Town Hall, Reception Room A.


1. Five-star hotel

Sichuan Guodong are exploring the possibility of developing a five star hotel development at Central Library Building on Surrey Street.

The Central Library building is in a poor state of repair, with an estimated £30 million needed to bring it up to the standards of a new, modern library and cultural centre. These plans have the potential to assure the beautiful, iconic building’s future in our city centre.

Guodong UK Limited have selected this building on Surrey Street due to its prominent location in the heart of the city next to the theatres and the transport facilities. The Central Library building is listed, and its unique architectural features are also seen as a major asset. This agreement is being entered into on the basis that they would wish to protect the building, in order to maintain and enhance it so as to preserve the building’s character.

Richard Wright, Executive Director, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce said: “This is an opportunity to take the transformation of Sheffield city centre to its next stage. These are exciting times for Sheffield and its development is so critical for businesses, the economy and jobs. It is great to see the Chinese partnership develop in this way.”

Dona Womack, Chair of the JG Graves Charitable Trust said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to breathe new life into this iconic building and we are pleased that early plans suggest that J G Graves’ legacy will remain publicly accessible and at the heart of the city for generations to come. We look forward to working with Sheffield City Council and the developer as plans unfold.”

Kim Streets, CEO Museums Sheffield commented: “Thanks to the generosity and vision of JG Graves and the commitment of the city, visitors to this much-loved building have been able to access, enjoy and be inspired by great art for over 80 years. I’m pleased to see that a public gallery will play a key role in the plans for the building’s future and look forward to working in partnership with the developers and Sheffield City Council to see the plans realised.”

Emily Morton, Chief Executive of Disability Sheffield said: “Central Library is an amazing building in many ways. But we know that it is not as accessible as it should be and this can cause significant problems for people with disabilities. The opportunity to move the central library service to a more accessible and inclusive building is really exciting for Sheffield.”

2. Sheffield – Chengdu Education Partnership

An educational partnership has been established with Chengdu that will see ‘sister’ schools developed in Chengdu and Sheffield. Chengdu representatives were so impressed with the Oasis Academy in Don Valley that they have asked to use this as the model for a ‘Sheffield School’ in Chengdu.

Sheffield based Bond Bryan Ltd, the firm that designed the Oasis Academy, has secured the contract to design this sister school.
The partnership arrangement will see the Oasis Academy developing the Mandarin language teaching, along with classes aimed at increasing student exposure to China’s history and culture.

3. Trade agreements with Nanchang and Daqing

Daqing is Chinese host city to World Snooker’s “World Open” tournament. Daqing is also a leader in the Chinese energy sector.

The Council has secured trade agreements with the Chinese cities of Nanchang and Daqing. Nanchang is a wealthy and rapidly growing city which is a major hub for the aerospace, automotive, healthcare and outdoor recreation tourist sectors. Daqing is a centre for energy and renewable technologies. Both these cities align strongly with Sheffield’s specialisms, and the Council will explore working with local companies to support sending trade delegations to capitalise on these links.

4. Residential development in West Bar

Guodong UK Ltd is expected to shortly begin pre-planning application discussions for a private residential development scheme in the West Bar area of the city worth up to £30 million.