Offshore city: How much of Sheffield is owned overseas?
Plus, a preview of the new Parkwood Springs parkrun
Good afternoon readers — and welcome to our Monday briefing. We hope you managed to stay dry and safe this weekend. We cowered behind the solid concrete walls at Tribune HQ yesterday as we read that Storm Isha “is expected to batter” Sheffield and prepared to report on scene of utter destruction when morning broke. Fortunately, the great municipal edifices are still standing and (as far as we can see), the damage has been very limited. Perhaps our mighty hills sheltered us from the brutal winds. If there are any meteorologists in the house, is that correct?
Anyway, since Isha didn’t deliver any newsworthy material, we’ve had to rip up our plans and fill our Big Story slot with something else. In 2022, the government introduced a new requirement for companies registered overseas that own land or property in the UK, forcing them to register with Companies House and declare who their “beneficial owners” are. The idea was to stop overseas owners using UK property to launder ill-gotten gains and to increase transparency. In today’s edition we examine a map showing which bits of Sheffield are owned abroad.
As well as that, we have a beautiful family home in Norfolk Park, a great review of Park Hill’s Middle East-inspired cafe South Street Kitchen, and a talk about the science behind ADHD at The Leadmill.
But first, some exciting news: We are now extremely close to reaching 2,000 paying members, a massive milestone that we’ve been hunting down like starved hyenas for over a year now. As we send this briefing, we’re on 1,959 members and we’ve set ourselves the goal of hitting 2,000 by the end of January, at which point we will organise an enormous illegal rave with all of our members to celebrate. We’ve had an amazing few months of growth — we broke our record for new subs in November and then again in December (adding more than 100 newbies both months), and getting to 2,000 will be a major vote of confidence in this model as the future of journalism in this city. If you’re not a member yet, please help us get there by clicking the button below. You’ll get extra stories every week, VIP access to our comments and events, and a plus-one to the rave (if the police don’t read this first and shut us down).
Catch up and coming up
In 2017, the Gleadless Valley was promised a £100 million regeneration would transform their area — but after seven years it still hasn’t happened. You can read Dan’s in-depth piece about that here, including a biting critique of “the Tribune demographic” in the comments, prompting another reader to reply: “Mr. West, I don't think the demographics of Tribune readers is the fault of Tribune readers.” As always, the comments under our stories are worth the price of admission alone.
Last week we sent out two great newsletters to our paying members. In the first Victoria travelled to London to attend Sheffield United women’s team manager Jonathan Morgan’s first game back since the tragic suicide of Maddy Cusack. She found a fanbase that isn’t yet ready to move on from the incident — and some fans who would rather it wasn’t discussed at games. “You have got no idea what you are talking about,” one fan said to another fan as we conducted an interview.
Then on Thursday we reported again on the turmoil at Sheffield Hallam, as yet another major restructure puts more teaching jobs at risk. An extract from that first piece is below.
To some fans of women’s football, the fact he has been permitted to quietly return to his role leading the team is an outrage. “It’s disgusting,” Sophie Chapman tells me, “I feel bad for the players who are still here.” The club, in her opinion, should have let Morgan go, especially given the amount of negative attention his presence attracts, which “takes focus away from what’s happening on the pitch”. More to the point, she adds, “I don’t feel comfortable with a man who’s been accused of what he has been accused of still being in charge of the club, it’s quite unsettling to me really.”
Coming up: This week we’ll send out two more including an interview with the head chef of the Rutland Arms as he prepares to leave the kitchen after 13 years, and another about the continuing disagreements over what Stocksbridge should do with the £20 million it was awarded in 2020 from the Levelling Up Fund (if you know more, please get in touch).
We’re also writing about Mercia School, which offers “traditional and academically rigorous” education and has achieved great exam results. Have you taught there or been a parent at any of the Mercia Learning Trust schools? Please get in touch to give us your thoughts. If you’re not a member, join now to read those stories.
The big picture: Running up that hill 🏃♀️
It’s an exciting time for Parkwood Springs, with £19 million in Levelling Up Fund money soon to be spent on the Sheffield beauty spot, and a new parkrun due to begin this summer. Long time Tribune member and keen runner Loz Harvey met up with the Friends of Parkwood Springs over the weekend to try out the route of the new run, and took the stunning photo above from one of the most scenic parts of the course. You can read his write up and view a map of the course here, and contribute to a crowdfunder to help pay for the costs of setting the run up here.
This week’s weather ❄
Our weather forecast comes from dedicated Sheffield weather service Steel City Skies, who say deep lows buffet northern UK with higher pressure trying to nose in from the south. The result is a changeable and sometimes very windy pattern for the week ahead.
Tuesday 🌧💨⚠️ The wind returns later in the day from the southwest as a deep low moves across northern UK. Outbreaks of rain and very mild with highs of 13°C.
Wednesday ⚠️⛅️ We yoyo back to something more settled with strong winds slowly easing. Mainly dry and bright with spells of sunshine and highs of 11°C.
Thursday ☁️ Cloudier and breezier from the southwest, though lacking any damaging gusts thankfully. A risk of patchy rain with highs a mild 11°C.
Friday 🌦 Likely to be cooler but still rather breezy with sunny spells and the likelihood of a scattering of heavy showers, especially for the west. 9°C the high.
Outlook: A vague NW/SE split with higher pressure centred further southeast and decent dry spells expected. With lows further north, the risk of showers remains as we sit roughly in between! I'm favouring the drier outlook, currently 😎
The big story: How much of Sheffield is owned overseas?
Top line: Earlier this month, the non-profit group Tax Policy Associates published an interactive map showing how much of English real estate is owned by companies registered overseas. It listed more than 200 properties across the whole of Sheffield, including around 80 in the city centre.
Zoom in: Unsurprisingly, many of the companies that own properties in the city are registered in countries that are well-known tax havens, including Guernsey, Jersey, Luxembourg and the British Virgin Islands.
For example, two leases for parts of Churchill House, an office block in the city centre, are owned by Global Greenridge 101 Propco Ltd, a company registered in Jersey. They were purchased in 2017 for £35.5 million, although their value appears to have increased to £166.8 million in the years since.
New law: Globan Greenridge registered with Companies House following the creation of the Register of Overseas Entities by the government in August 2022. Companies that owned land or property in the UK were given a deadline of 31st January last year to declare who their “beneficial owners” were.
The company has no officers and its beneficial owners are listed as Jtc (Jersey) Limited and Jtc Trustees Limited, both also registered in Jersey. However, JTC plc only offers “fund administration services” to a variety of investor clients, meaning this does little to reveal who the building’s true owners are.
But Global Greenridge 101 Propco Ltd is also listed as the owner of 1 Hartshead Square. In 2018, this building was put up for sale for £41 million by a company called Greenridge Investment Management, which is based in London and has a secondary office in Dubai. It is likely that the two companies are connected.
Heart of the city not at home: A number of surprising properties turn out to be owned by companies based abroad, including the Royal Mail’s Sheffield Mail Centre in Ecclesfield and Holmwood Nursing Home in Heeley, both of which are owned by separate companies based in Jersey.
Perhaps one of the most ironic properties to be owned by a foreign company, however, is Block F of the Heart of the City II regeneration, which is owned by a Netherlands-based company called AG Kangaroo Works HEADLEASECO B.V.
According to Companies House, one of the beneficial owners is Alberta Investment Management Corporation, a Canadian crown corporation owned by the government. (The other beneficial owner, given his position as monarch of Canada, is King Charles III.)
A global property market: While the most expensive properties are multi-million investments in commercial or office buildings, these are far outnumbered by the number of individual flats in Sheffield housing blocks that have been purchased by foreign investors. In S3 postcodes alone, The Tribune counted more than 70 individual flats owned by companies based abroad.
For example, 15 flats in Vita Student Sheffield — a high-rise student accommodation block in the city centre, previously known as Telephone House — are owned by Miro Group Ltd, a company based in Hong Kong. The beneficial owner of this company is, in turn, Fias Industrial Ltd, based in the Marshall Islands, which has not had to register with Companies House.
In Cornish Place, a listed factory building in Neepsend that has been converted into housing, 21 flats are owned by Homeselect Finance (No.3) Ltd, based in Jersey — once again the beneficial owner is the fund management company JTC.
Global reach: Other Sheffield flats are owned by companies based in a wide range of countries worldwide, including (but not limited to) Bulgaria, Cyprus, Liberia, Israel and the Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone, a tax-free area created in 2000 an hour’s drive from Dubai.
Muddying the waters: While there is no suggestion that companies registered abroad that have chosen to invest in UK property are engaging in illegal activity, the Register of Overseas Entities was introduced by the government with the promise that it would help crack down on “corrupt elites,” such as Russian oligarchs, using this as a means to launder their illegal wealth.
Lots more questions: The fact that the register still reveals little about the people actually benefiting from the city’s most expensive properties (and snapping up a number of its new-build flats) is concerning. As demonstrated by a BBC investigation from last February, the owners of tens of thousands of UK properties are still managing to hide from view despite the new transparency laws.
Our take: As noted by this Now Then article from two years ago, Sheffield Council owns around a quarter of the city’s land, an unusually high proportion among English local councils. However, currently the government is quietly consulting on plans to make it even easier to sell off public assets to fund front-line services, intended to be a saving grace for councils that are flirting with bankruptcy. As the data from Tax Policy Associates shows, foreign companies already own a significant chunk of Sheffield’s most valuable buildings. If the government’s plans go ahead, we could see that proportion increase further in the years to come.
What’s your take? Is this something to be concerned about — or just a normal feature of a growing city in the 21st century? Tell us in the comments.
Our media picks 🔗
Streets in the Sky 🎭 There’s only a few weeks to go now before Park Hill musical Standing at the Sky’s Edge makes its debut on the West End. In anticipation, BBC Breakfast brought the cast of the Olivier award-winning show up to Sheffield for a tour of the building. In the package, the cast meet photographer and former resident Mick Jones, while star Rachael Wooding sings After The Rain, and the composer Richard Hawley even gets to go up onto the roof.
Brunch at plant-based Park Hill cafe is not to be missed 🍳 A lovely food review in The Star comes from South Street Kitchen, Park Hill flats’ vegetarian and vegan Middle East-inspired cafe. Reviewer Kirsty Hamilton says she came away impressed not only by the food but also by the chilled ambience and friendly staff. “We thought our meal was incredibly good value,” she writes. “And I don’t think I’ve ever been served by such kind, smiley and lovely staff.”
What to look for in January 2024 🍄 Our regular contributor David Bocking has produced his monthly feature on what you can expect to see in the Outdoor City this January. This update includes a lot of exotic looking fungi including tripe fungus, jelly ear, yellow brain fungus and witches’ butter. People should also keep a look out for migrating geese and swans, thrushes like fieldfares and redwings, wood ants, mistletoe and signs of spring like whitlow grass.
Home of the week 🏡
This impeccable three-bedroom Norfolk Park semi has a spacious garden with stunning views over Sheffield and, best of all, a walk-in wardrobe. It is on the market for £300,000.
Tribune Tips: If you want to tell us about a story or give us some information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always happy to speak to people off the record in the first poll instance, and we will treat your information with confidence and sensitivity.
Things to do 📆
Theatre 🎭 Starting at the Crucible Playhouse on Wednesday is Wish You Weren’t Here, “a hilarious and heart-warming exploration of family relationships, the agony of growing up, and how to find your way in the world when you can’t help thinking you’re just not good enough”. The new production has been highlighted as one of What’s On Stage’s top new plays to see in 2024. Tickets are priced £22 and the show runs until Saturday, 10 February.
Talk 🧠 A simple scroll through social media is all it takes to be left questioning: do I have ADHD? The rise in the condition in adults is undeniable, but only over the last decade has it been formally recognised in the UK. This talk at The Leadmill on Wednesday is designed to give you a greater understanding of the ADHD brain and will also include tips on how you can navigate the world as a neurodivergent person. Tickets are £14.50 and doors open at 7pm.
Crime 🚨 On Thursday at Sheffield City Hall, one of the UK’s most respected psychological therapists and crime commentators discusses what creates a serial killer. In The Serial Killer Next Door, Emma Kenny examines what led Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and John Paul Knowles to murder. Could anything have prevented their potential being activated, or were they simply born to kill? Tickets are priced £32.50 and the doors will open at 6.30pm.