Wednesday, October 14, 2015

News: AMRC campus set for approval

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Plans for a new advanced manufacturing campus based on the success of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing are being recommended for approval by Sheffield planning officers.

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. Drawn up by Bond Bryan Architects and DLP Planning consultants, it includes 1.3 million sq ft of buildings - 860,000 sq ft for advanced manufacturing and research, 670,000 sq ft for a residential training centre and conferencing, and 16,000 sq ft for outdoor and indoor recreation.

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.

The plans cover areas of previously developed land and involve the demolition of airport buildings but they needed to prove the case for special circumstances as the scheme proposes a significant amount of development within the Green Belt.
Planners concluded that outline planning approval should be granted subject to a number of conditions. These include highway improvements and the submission of various plans concerning drainage, landscaping, remediation and energy.

On the Green Belt issue, the planners state that the boundary pre dates the airport runway and that it was generally supported that the land would be removed from the Green Belt through Sheffield's Local Plan, which will not be adopted until 2018. It adds that the AMRC campus development is deliverable and that there is an urgency to commence development before any formal Green Belt review could be concluded.

A report to the planning board at Sheffield Council concludes that economic benefits of the development must be given significant weight and that "it is clear that the continued development of the University's AMRC is central to the transformation and growth of the Sheffield City Region economy, assisting significantly in meeting the ambitious economic targets set out in the growth plan."

The economic impact and the absence of viable alternative sites are considered "to amount to very special circumstances which outweigh harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness" and members of the planning board are being recommended to approve the plans.

The construction of Factory 2050 (pictured) is nearing completion on the site. The £43m development will be the UK's first fully reconfigurable assembly and component manufacturing facility for collaborative research.

The plans have been backed by planners in Rotherham and the site is 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).

AMRC website

Images: AMRC / Bond Bryan / Interserve

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