Wednesday, April 23, 2014

News: AMRC secures planning permission for Factory 2050

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The planning board of Sheffield Council has voted to approve plans for Factory 2050, the state of the art, £43m development that is set to keep the Sheffield city region at the cutting edge of advanced manufacturing.

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing recently signed a deal to secure land at Sheffield Business Park, paving the way for the expansion of the AMRC and building on its success on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP), just over the border in Rotherham.

Since the first University building opened there in 2004, four further new buildings and two extensions have been added to provide a current total of around 30,000 sq m of accommodation on the AMP.

The first development at the new location, sited directly opposite the existing developments on the other side of the Parkway, will be the AMRC Factory 2050, the UK's first fully reconfigurable assembly and component manufacturing facility for collaborative research, capable of rapidly switching production between different high-value components and one-off parts.

Integrating research and industry collaboration, the government confirmed £10m funding from Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) last year with the remainder of the £43m total cost coming from industry. Manufacturers including Boeing, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and Spirit AeroSystems are committed to supporting the project.

Designed by Bond Bryan, the circular building, behind the Sheffield Business Centre and on the airport runway, will combine a range of technologies, including advanced robotics, flexible automation, unmanned workspace, off-line printing in virtual environments linked to plug-and-play robotics, 3D printing from flexible automated systems, man-machine interfaces, and new programming and training tools.

Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts, said: "Over the last decade we've seen the enormous impact of the University's active involvement in advanced manufacturing, creating high quality jobs and hundreds of new opportunities for apprenticeships, as well as attracting some of the world's best known aerospace and engineering companies to work and invest here.

"The planning approval represents a real step forward in moving this vital activity to the next level, and giving the city region the opportunity to further its reputation as a leading force in advanced manufacturing, not just at UK level, but on the global stage."

The application now requires final approval by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

The AMRC Factory 2050 is expected to be completed in 2015 and it is anticipated that the site will then be developed out for other AMRC research centre activities, fostering further economic growth and attracted more manufacturing firms and inward investment.

A detailed master plan for the entire remaining 50 acres will be submitted to Sheffield City Council's planning department in the next few months.

Graham Sadler, managing director at Sheffield Business Park, said: "We're working hard to make sure that we create the right environment to attract inward investment from high quality businesses, bringing real jobs to the region.

"The construction of Factory 2050 will send out a clear message of our ambition to maximise the benefit to the City Region of this vital location. Individual sites on the remainder of Phase 2 will be available this autumn and plans are well underway for the speculative development of four high quality production units. These are due for completion in mid-2015, building on the University's vote of confidence in Sheffield Business Park."

AMRC website

Images: AMRC / Bond Bryan

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