Thursday, December 14, 2017

News: £36m of EU funding for Sheffield city region projects


A number of projects to support businesses and help secure inward investment in the Sheffield city region (SCR) have been developed to utilise European funding, potentially the last such regional projects to start before Britain leaves the European Union (EU).

Structural funding from the EU is seen as integral to meeting the targets in the Local Enterprise Partnership's (LEP's) Growth Plan, which has set an ambitious target of creating 70,000 new jobs in the SCR by 2023.

The latest calls total £36.7m in EU funds and are asking for large scale projects in a number of areas including support for enterprise, supply chain development, research and innovation, inward investment and sustainable development. Funding is also available for projects to address skills issues and to support unemployed individuals at high risk of long-term unemployment.

Up to £2m is available for a project to promote the SCR area as a prime business location for foreign direct investment which is set to include marketing the region and providing aftercare support for inward investors.

Up to £2.4m is available for projects to increase entrepreneurship through outreach, advice and support. £3.6m is available for "revenue based proposals that seek to address SCR business's low propensity for innovation, stimulate demand and idea creation for innovation and productivity growth."

£2.2m is available to help strengthen the supply chain and ensure that local businesses can win more contracts whilst £1.4m is set aside to encourage a wider use of superfast broadband.


The largest allocations are for low carbon projects and sustainable urban development. £7.1m is set to be used to back renewable fuels and energy projects with £8.4m for boosting the economy by using brownfield sites, addressing flood risk and improving the green infrastructure.

A skills hub is set to be created to complement existing support provided through the SCR Growth Hub and Skills Bank. The call states: "In order to implement an effective skills support infrastructure within SCR, the Combined Authority intends to deliver skills related support under a single, coordinated strategic framework and has identified the development of a bespoke local Skills Hub as the central pillar.

"The new Skills Hub will provide access to information, advice and guidance to businesses who require support on skills related matters across the Sheffield City Region."

With a new economic strategy focused on inclusion, the SCR is launching a project backed by £6m from the European Social Fund to address actual and perceived barriers to employment that individuals at risk of long term unemployment may face, for example confidence, health, housing, skills, debt and substance misuse.

With £1.6m allocated from the EU, a project is being funded to get more businesses working with local schools. The region wants to see "a mechanism for linking co-ordination of local employers with schools and young people to provide meaningful/inspirational experiences of the world of work, foster and encourage entrepreneurism and ensure young people can make informed education and career choices."

Chancellor Philip Hammond confirmed last year that the Government will guarantee EU funding for structural and investment fund projects, signed after the Autumn Statement and which continue after the UK has left the EU (possibly in 2019).

The Government recently confirmed that following the UK's departure from the EU, it will launch the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, using money returning from the EU to provide funding for economic development and local growth across the UK.

Sheffield city region website

Images: European Commission


News: Former Rotherham M&S building sold


A prominent building in Rotherham town centre has been sold following an auction earlier this month.

27 - 29 College Street in Rotherham, known by many as the previous home of national retailer, Marks & Spencer, includes 32,600 sq ft of "well configured and flexible retail accommodation."

The freehold was given a guide price of £900,000 by leading auctioneers, Acuitus for its auction in London on December 7. The lot did not sell on the day but a deal was struck after the event.

The sale follows on from a deal for the adjacent property in July. The freehold shop investment at 31 College Street (the Greenwoods store) went under the hammer with national auctioneers, Allsop, and was sold at the guide price of £300,000.

Over the road, 38-40 College Street was given a guide price of £150,000 - £200,000 by Acuitus when it went up for auction earlier this year. It sold for £245,000.


Richard Auterac, chairman of Acuitus, said: "Coming into this year – after the economic and political turbulence of 2016 – it was very hard to call how our market would fare. In the event, we have substantially broadened our seller base and been able to bring to auction the type of assets which meet the needs of the growing numbers of private investors targeting the commercial property sector.

"Our final 2017 auction illustrated this with the sale of investments across all property sectors and throughout the UK."

With eye-catching half mock timber and decorative Art Nouveau style windows above, the ground floor is let to Poundworld Retail Limited until 2021 who operate its Bargain Buys fascia on the site.

The property was advertised as having the potential to convert the self-contained vacant upper parts to residential which would echo similar plans in the area and meet the focus of the new masterplan. Town centre living is seen as critical to sustaining the long term health of the town centre and seen as important in achieving around the clock vitality and vibrancy.

A planning application was recently submitted to convert part of 38-40 College Street into flats. The former snooker hall on the second floor of the property could be converted into five new flats.

Acuitus website

Images: UKSE


News: Wates gets to work on £29m Rotherham housing scheme


The first phase of construction work as part of the £29m scheme in Rotherham will begin in Maltby.

The Council is bringing forward some of its "more challenging" sites using a innovative development model. Wates successfully secured a multi million pound tender and will act as the Council's development partner.

Rotherham Council has appointed Wates Residential to develop 217 new homes, 98 of which will be council rented homes and five will be adapted for adults with learning disabilities and young vulnerable people. The scheme also includes properties for sale, shared ownership and rent to buy and will be built across seven sites in Maltby, Canklow, East Herringthorpe and Dinnington.

The first phase of construction work will begin on Braithwell Road in Maltby to provide 83 properties for sale. The first of these homes are expected to be ready in Spring 2019. Phase one of this construction programme will also see development start on Conway Crescent and Farnworth Road, East Herringthorpe and Gaitskell Close, Maltby. Following this, phases two and three will commence in Dinnington and Canklow in 2018 with an expected completion for all 217 homes in 2020.

The Wates Group is one of the largest privately-owned construction, development and property services companies in the UK and has committed to delivering a variety of training and employment opportunities for local people. As part of its preparatory works, Wates has engaged local suppliers and sub-contractors to ensure that the Council's investment provides a boost for the local economy.


Cllr. Dominic Beck, cabinet member for Housing at Rotherham Council, said: "Rotherham is one of the largest stock holding authorities in the country and one fifth of our residents live in social housing. Making sure these residents have access to affordable and warm homes, and those that are adapted to meet their needs, is vital. The 98 new Council homes will help us to deliver the high quality housing that we need.

"We also have ambitious growth plans to regenerate the borough and make it a place where more people want to live, work and spend their leisure time. This development with Wates Residential is a huge step forward for the Council and we are delighted to see work getting underway and our vision becoming reality."

Jo Jamieson, managing director of Wates Residential North, added: "We have been working closely with Rotherham Council to ensure that our partnership helps to meet the borough's diverse housing needs. The strategy now being implemented will support vulnerable members of the community while also providing an affordable foot on the ladder for first time buyers.

"Today's sod cutting ceremony is symbolic of the progress being made on this ambitious investment programme. Our team starting on site is a huge step forward for the creation of the new homes, as well as for the long-term benefits the local community will feel as a result of this new development."

Last month, the Council's cabinet approved the authority's plans to use £6.81m of grant funding it secured through the Homes and Communities Agency's (HCA's) Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme (SOAHP).

Wates Group website

Images: Wates / RMBC


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

News: £12m bus station revamp approved


The planning application for the long-awaited revamp of the bus station in Rotherham town centre has been approved but the owner of the adjacent shopping precinct is unhappy at the prospect of the interchange's closure whilst work is carried out.

Architects at Jefferson Sheard submitted the application earlier this year focused on refreshing the concourses with upgrades to flooring, plinths and glazing. The main pedestrian entrances are also set to be revamped.

Norseman Estates Limited, who are owners of the College Walk Shopping Centre which adjoins the bus station, has complained over the consultation done by the SYPTE and the impact of the temporary closure of the bus station.

Partners decided last year to focus on refurbishing the car park and bus station rather than a large scale redevelopment. Opened in 1971, the multi storey car park has since developed widespread defects. It is underutilised and "nearing the point of being beyond economic repair."

The bus station, which has associated public safety issues, suffered a fire in 2016 which caused significant damage.

Construction works to undertake the car park refurbishment scheme commenced on site in May 2017. The approved plans included internal improvements to increase usage and proposals for new highly durable anodised mesh panels to replace the poorly implemented current external cladding.

The latest plans, approved without the need to go to the planning board, include new finishes, fixtures and fittings to refresh the interchange, replacing failing components and improving the customer experience. This includes new glazed facades, replacing the existing floor surface in its entirety, new concourse and runway ceilings, replacing all of the current seating, new signage and a new, high quality and integrated customer service desk.

Led by the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE), the tender process to procure a construction firm to carry out the work is underway with the deadline this week.

Work is anticipated to start in Spring 2018 and last for approximately 12 months.

Proposals are in place to fully close the interchange site to the public and the potential use of nearby Forge Island for a temporary bus station is being discussed.


Legal firm Freeths, on behalf of Norseman Estates, said: "The importance of the operation of the bus station and its relation to the shopping centre and the wider town centre cannot be over emphasised in terms of the vitality and viability of the town.

"Although the development for which planning permission is sought in this application may be considered relatively small scale it never the less has the potential to have significant and serious implications if not properly managed as part of the overall refurbishment of the bus station."

A report from council planners responds with: "The applicant indicates that the car park construction works will be completed in parallel with this application to minimise the duration of the construction works on site and consequently minimise disruption to the ongoing town centre activities and retail offers. However, the applicant has confirmed that the construction of the new entrance lobbies can be completed without whole closure of the interchange. Localised temporary relocation of the bus stands immediately adjacent to each entrance may be required at most.

"The issues raised by the objector are noted and the potentially uncertainty of the business owners within the College Walk Shopping Precinct to the south of the interchange are understood. However, the issue raised by the objector in respect of there being no proper consultation with the businesses and the applicant is not a material planning consideration and this issue, together with the fact the bus interchange will need to close to carry out the wider redevelopment of the site is one that should be discussed between the applicant and the businesses outside of this planning application as it is legal / civil issue.

"It is noted that the closure of the bus interchange may impact on town centre, however there have been months of discussions between the applicant and other Council departments to ensure any disruption is minimal and does not significantly impact on the town centre. Again this is not material to this application and is for discussions outside of planning."

In 1995 Norseman Holdings bought the whole site from Rotherham Council, re-developing it with a shopping mall at the main entrance and new shops fronting onto Effingham Street. To facilitate the wider proposals, SYPTE agreed to take a 99 year lease of the Interchange site.

The owners also asked for a decision on the application to be deferred pending further negotiations to keep the bus station open during the works.

Council planners conclude that a condition is not considered necessary in this instance given the small scale nature of the proposed works, which in isolation, if approved would not require the bus interchange to close.

The report adds: "It is noted that during the construction phase of the wider development there may be a short term impact on the economic and social dimensions due to pedestrians not walking directly past the businesses from the Interchange, but these business can be accessed directly off Frederick Street.

"Furthermore, once this construction period has finished, the wider development is likely to provide significant economic and environmental enhancements to the town centre and its businesses."

SYPTE website

Images: SYPTE / Norseman / Jefferson Sheard


News: Future potential is huge for MetLase


MetLase, the Rotherham-based joint venture between Rolls-Royce and the Unipart Group, recently showcased some of its pioneering work at Advanced Engineering 2017.

Initially focused on aerospace, automotive, motorsport and the medical market sector, the rapidly-growing company expects to create around 30 high-end, technical engineering jobs at its headquarters on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP).

The mechanical engineering consultancy specialises in increasing productivity by designing and manufacturing complex tooling, fixturing and components for a wide range of industries, often bringing lead times of months down to just days.

Advanced Engineering is the UK's largest annual gathering of advanced engineering professionals and connects the entire supply chain with R&D, design, test, production and procurement from manufacturers and top tier industry players.

2017 was the first time that MetLase has attended the major exhibition at Birmingham's NEC, joining big names such as Boeing, Nissan, Hexcel and Dassault Systèmes.


Using highly skilled and creative engineers, MetLase is able to deliver engineering solutions to complex issues by using high precision laser-cutting technology, combined with patented assembly and joining systems.

Steve Dunn, managing director at MetLase said that the company was looking to widen its reach to other parts of the industry. He added: "We developed our process and launched our innovative technology two years ago; since then the business has doubled in size but the future potential is huge."

The basic manufacturing techniques used at MetLase are CNC laser-cutting and press-brake material forming.

Patented joining techniques are used to eliminate the need for welding, removing any chance of heat–induced distortion and allowing the accurate laser-cut tolerances to be maintained in the final assembly.


One of its first major projects was to come up with a way of manufacturing very lightweight exhausts for high end cars made by Aston Martin.

And this year, MetLase became a partner on a collaborative R&D project with the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing and Meggitt Plc to develop an intelligent, digitally enabled Smart Workbench.

Another project sees MetLase partner with the Nuclear AMRC, also based on the AMP, and other industry partners, to demonstrate fixturing technology on large cylindrical parts representing a two-thirds scale replica of a mid-range reactor pressure vessel.

Metlase also produced the tooling (in just nine days) to enable Williams Advanced Engineering to assemble an innovative chassis as part of its lightweight electric vehicle platform concept, named the FW-EVX.

Unveiled at the Low Carbon Vehicle Event in September, the concept features several innovations in battery pack design, cooling systems and lightweight structures, which have each been cleverly integrated into a single, scalable platform.

MetLase website

Images: UKSE

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