Monday, September 21, 2015

News: Rotherham planners back AMRC 2 proposal

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Planning officers at Rotherham Council are supporting the development of a new advanced manufacturing campus based on the success of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing.

In 2014 the institution signed a deal to secure 50 acres of 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) in Rotherham, where it already operates from 300,000 sq ft of accommodation within seven separate buildings.

A masterplan was submitted which highlights that the development could lead to the creation of 1,494 – 1,881 jobs directly related to the proposal.

The plans include new research buildings such as the proposed £30m National Material Institute, part of the Sir Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Material Science, announced in December.

The proposed £11m Structural Dynamics Laboratory for Verification and Validation will provide the ability to test in realistic conditions at full scale and is set to pave the way for engineers to create lighter, greener, safer structures.

Other anticipated projects include a £20m Fast Make Centre of Excellence were prototypes move to manufacture within months, and a £30m Energy 2050 development - a world-leading hub of excellence set up to address the "trilemma" of making energy more affordable, secure and sustainable.

Rotherham Council has been consulted due to the close proximity of the application site to the Rotherham Borough. If approved, it is set to be constructed on the site of the former Sheffield Airport on the other side of the Parkway to the AMP. The scheme proposes a significant amount of development within the Green Belt.

The proposals are seen as key to the emerging Innovation District idea for the Sheffield-Rotherham corridor, where the aim is to develop Europe's largest research-led advanced manufacturing cluster. A spatial plan is expected to be complete by the end of 2015, including the exploration of a mass transit connection for the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID).

Planning officers at Rotherham Council conclude: "It is accepted that the proposals will be beneficial to the wider city region and nationally and the proposed development will contribute to the delivery of the aforementioned AMID proposals and as such the economic benefits of the development can be afforded some weight as clearly the construction and operational phases of the scheme will contribute to the economic development of the City Region and nationally."

Applicants estimate that an annual direct operational contribution of £58.9m - £74.2m in GVA (a measurement of an area's economic output) to the local economy.

The report adds: "However, it is accepted that the economic benefits on their own are not considered to justify very special circumstances for developing in the Green Belt" but Rotherham Council acknowledges Sheffield Council's intention to remove the application site out of the Green Belt through the local plan process.

Indeed, further land at Sheffield Business Park to the east of Europa Link and north of the Parkway falls within the Rotherham boundary and could also be released from the Green belt to support the development of the AMID.

Whilst also taking into account issues such as the impact on residential amenity, the transport network and air quality, Rotherham planners are backing the plans but asking for the approval of a Travel Plan which places a greater emphasis to be put on mitigation and reducing the number of journeys and the implementation of robust mitigation measures to reduce the emissions of air pollutants.

AMRC website

Images: AMRC / Bond Bryan

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