Monday, March 25, 2019

News: Sheffield city region devolution deal breakthrough

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Dan Jarvis and the four leaders of South Yorkshire's local authorities have reached a consensus on the way forward for devolution in our region.

After years of impasse, a breakthrough letter has been sent to Secretary of State James Brokenshire today (Monday 25 March), asking for powers and resources to be unlocked.

An estimated £75m a year of Government funding earmarked for much-needed economic development projects is yet to make it to the SCR due to the stalled devolution deal.

In that letter, Mayor Dan Jarvis, Cllr Julie Dore, Cllr Sir Steve Houghton, Mayor Ros Jones and Cllr Chris Read say that they have had "productive conversations", and set out plans as to how, together with Government, devolution for the Sheffield City Region can now move forward while also furthering the future devolution ambitions of individual authorities.

Mayor Jarvis said: "This is an important day for our region. After months of negotiations, I'm delighted to have brokered a joint devolution position with all of South Yorkshire's leaders, that I believe will enable us to access the powers and resources that our region needs to continue its economic transformation.

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"It is a pragmatic solution that enables first and foremost, the unlocking of the Sheffield City Region deal, whilst also supporting wider Yorkshire devolution ambitions.

"It is a solution that gives effect to the mandate upon which I was elected, is in line with the community polls held by Barnsley and Doncaster, and accords with the Government's own stated position regarding the next steps for devolution."

The letter to Government asks that millions of pounds in funding is unlocked for the SCR. This is on the understanding that each authority is able to move to other devolution arrangements, should they wish to do so, in 2022 – the end of Mayor Jarvis' current term of office.

The next step will be for the Government to respond to this joint letter.

Mayor Jarvis added: "It is now for Government to work constructively with us to agree our plan and release the powers and money that the Sheffield City Region needs."

SCR website

Images: SCR

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News: First prototype chassis delivered from new £50m McLaren Rotherham facility

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The first prototype carbon fibre MonoCell, the tub that forms the main structure of McLaren's cars, has been shipped from the company's new £50m innovation and production centre in Rotherham to the McLaren Production Centre (MPC) in Woking, Surrey.

Codenamed "PLT-MCTC - 01" - which stands for "Prototype Lightweight Tub, McLaren Composites Technology Centre - 01" - the tub completed its 175-mile journey to the British sportscars and supercar maker's global headquarters from the McLaren Composites Technology Centre (MCTC). There it will be involved with stringent crash testing duties.

The MCTC was opened on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) last year by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge alongside HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince of Bahrain, as part of McLaren's ambitious plans to increase the rate of innovation of its famous lightweight carbon fibre chassis that are at the heart of all its cars.

The new 75,000 sq ft facility will help the company to innovate and produce lightweight carbon fibre "tubs" that will enable it to deliver the lightest in class products. Monocell and Monocage carbon fibre chassis used in future McLaren models will be sent to the MPC where the company's vehicles have been hand-assembled since 2011.

The MCTC currently employs around 60 people which will rise to over 200 when full production commences in 2020.

This will help the firm's designers and engineers to find further weight savings as the company develops its next generation of vehicles as part of its ambitious Track25 business plan.

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Global sales for McLaren Automotive peaked at 4,806 cars in 2018. With sales up 43.9% on the previous year, this is another record for the company which has increased sales every year since its formation in 2010.

McLaren aims to win the automotive race to lightweight which will become ever more important as cars move towards hybrid powertrains which are generally heavier than their traditional petrol counterparts. All McLaren's sportscars and supercars will be hybrid by 2024.

Wes Jacklin, plant director, MCTC, McLaren Automotive, said: "The delivery of the first prototype carbon fibre tub by the new MCTC to McLaren HQ is not only an exciting day for everyone who has directly worked on the project but also a significant milestone for McLaren Automotive's ambition to be world-beaters in lightweight and composites technology which goes hand-in-hand with our move to hybrid powertrains as part of our Track25 business plan.

"We never innovate for the sake of it; we innovate to continually fulfil our promise to create iconic sportscars. It's increasingly clear that with future heavier powertrain requirements, exploiting innovative lightweighting techniques and technologies is going to be a significant key to unlocking all the handling and agility characteristics that our customers demand."

McLaren Automotive website

Images: McLaren

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News: Plans approved for reuse of Rotherham colliery

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Plans have been approved to allow Ritchie Bros., the world's largest auctioneer of heavy equipment and trucks, to use a former colliery in Rotherham as its new UK location.

The proposal will create an estimated 30 full time jobs and 40 additional temporary jobs, and result in an estimated £3m of investment into Maltby Colliery.

Rothbiz reported on the plans in January that would enable part of the pit yard to be used as an auction site which could accommodate large plant, machinery and equipment when auction events would be held up to ten times per year. Around 575 attendees are expected at each auction event over two days.

Deemed a success, the first auction was held under permitted development rights in February. The approved plans are for a smaller area for temporary period of 12 months with plans set to follow for the full 26 acres for a longer year period.

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Planners concluded that whilst the plans were not fully in accordance with the local plan policy for the former colliery, "the benefits that the proposal will bring in terms of job creation and inward investment to the area are to be afforded significant weight.

"Additionally, it is noted that the application site is only part of the former colliery site and would not prejudice any further future development on the remaining area.

"When taking into consideration the benefits the proposal would bring locally it is considered that the planning permission should be granted for the development."

Lee Weatherall, planning and development manager at Hargreaves Land, said: "We are delighted that planning consent has been secured to enable Ritchie Bros. to operate for a 12-month period at Maltby Colliery. This is the first step of a longer term plan which could extend to 26 acres for a 25-year period subject to planning."

The next Ritchie Bros. auction at Maltby is taking place on April 9.

The reclamation scheme for the rest of the colliery is expected to commence soon.

Ritchie Bros. website
Hargreaves Land website

Images: Ritchie Bros.

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News: Free parking spaces in Rotherham increasing to 1,000

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Visitors to Rotherham will soon benefit from 1,000 free weekend parking spaces in the town centre.

From Saturday April 6, parking will be free on Saturdays in the Drummond Street and Wellgate Multi-storey car parks – as well as on Forge Island.

New parking incentives have been introduced over the years, but the authority has stopped short of offering free parking across the board.

Last year saw half the current free "red zone" spaces provided in Forge Island transferred to the Council's car park at Drummond Street where customers are entitled to one session of two hours free parking per day in a limited number of parking bays.

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Most town parking fees have been frozen again and previously introduced offers included visitors claiming two hours free parking at the expiration of a two hour session purchased in some town centre Council operated off-street car parks on Saturdays.

The cost of day parking is set to increase from £3 to £3.50 on Forge Island and in the temporary car park The Statutes where regeneration proposals are moving ahead.

Spaces are set to be re-introduced on Forge Island know that the temporary bus station has closed and the revamped Interchange has re-opened.

The £12m refurb of Rotherham Interchange includes structural repairs and deck defect repairs to the multi-storey car park (pictured) as well as painting of columns and ceilings to improve the visual appearance and new cladding comprising a non-flammable expanded metal mesh mounted on a frame, fully covering the exterior of the car park.

Cllr. Denise Lelliott, Rotherham Council's Cabinet Member for Jobs and the Local Economy, said: "More permanent free parking at weekends will help shoppers and businesses alike.

"Shopping and spending leisure time in the town centre, including at the many caf├ęs and restaurants, gives a vital boost to local businesses. If everyone spent just a few pounds locally each week, it would make a huge difference to Rotherham's businesses."

Images: SYPTE

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

News: Extra cash for innovative Rotherham housing scheme

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Rotherham Council needs another £5m to deliver over 200 new houses on a cluster of sites it owns.

The authority is bringing forward some of its "more challenging" sites using a innovative development model. Wates Group, one of the largest privately-owned construction, development and property services companies in the UK, successfully secured a multi million pound tender and is acting as the Council's development partner to proceed with sites in Maltby, Canklow, East Herringthorpe and Dinnington.

The first houses under the "Rother Living" brand are at Northgate in Maltby.

With original overall developments costs of £29m, this week, Rotherham Council's cabinet approved an increase in the budget to enable all 217 homes to be built.

A report stated: "At the point of reporting to Cabinet in 2017, the total scheme cost could only be estimated. The sites are extremely challenging and extensive ground remediation work has been necessary to make them developable. Other unforeseeable costs have arisen from utilities diversions and an industry-wide increase in the cost of materials and labour."

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Cllr. Dominic Beck, cabinet member for housing at Rotherham Council, explained: "We are asking approval for an additional net cost to the HRA [Housing Revenue Account] budget of £4.99m to deliver our site clusters programme that was formerly approved by Cabinet in October 2017.

"We were very clear that some of the costs associated with the scheme were based on estimated costs and now we are in a position were we know that little bit more about how much it is actually going to cost the council to deliver those 217 homes across those seven sites.

"We are also clear as well that we want to renegotiate the contract with Wates to a fixed maximum price."

Discounted options included reducing the overall number of homes being built, and progressing without a guaranteed maximum price.

Cllr. Brian Steele, chair of the scrutiny committee at Rotherham Council discussed the rising costs and it was recommended that officers share learning from the contracting on this project to ensure that large scale projects undertaken are well managed and controlled.

Rotherham Council has set itself a target of delivering 109 homes during the year via direct Council intervention and is on track to do so.

This scheme uses a new delivery route for the Council and creates the opportunity for it to maximise the value of its assets and deliver a greater number of high quality new homes, as opposed to simply selling the individual sites on the open market.

Houses sold will lead to sales revenue provided directly to the local authority (excluding a developer's margin) to cross subsidise the development. The Council will also receive the majority share of any developer's profit on the schemes, through retaining the development value of the land.

Rother Living website

Images: Rother Living

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