Tuesday, April 5, 2016

News: Latest AMP expansion approved

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A planning application for the next stage of commercial development at the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) has been approved by Rotherham Council and is set to see the creation of a further 73,000 sq ft of space at the UK's centre of excellence for advanced manufacturing.

Developers, Harworth Estates is transforming a reclaimed former industrial site at Waverley into a thriving new 740 acre development which includes the AMP - dubbed "the elite "Mayfair" address for advanced manufacturing."

With industrial space on the AMP in high demand, at least one occupier for the latest space has already been lined up.

Detailed plans were submitted for Phase II of the R-evolution development by Harworth Estates Investments Limited earlier in 2016 which include three separate buildings on Plots 6, 7 and 8 and proposes high quality business, manufacturing and office floorspace in classes B1/B2/B8.

The application site is located within an Enterprise Zone and to provide flexibility, plans show that two of the units could be subdivided, creating units from 11,000 to 26,000 sq ft. They are set to be constructed in the same style as the surrounding units.

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The plans, drawn up by consultants at Barton Willmore and approved by the planning board at Rotherham Council last week, state: "R-evolution represents the current development being undertaken at the AMP and is aimed at providing flexible floorspace to new and established businesses in the advanced manufacturing sector.

"These exciting proposals will further enhance the AMP and will continue to assist in the economic development and regeneration of this area of the Borough and help the Council to positively prepare for growth over the coming plan period. In this respect the application is entirely consistent with the area's Enterprise Zone designation and its requirements."

The first phase of the R-evolution development secured lettings from X-Cel Superturn, Maher and Nikken Kosakusho Europe.

Plots 7 and 8 are being built to accommodate general market interest in the advanced manufacturing sector and provide up to 10% office floorspace.

Planners discussed that Plot 6 is set to include 50% of the 10,000 sq ft space for offices, above what guidelines normally recommend for commercial developments outside of town centres. The layout is due to a "specific occupier requirement for this building from an international company involved in advanced manufacturing."

Nigel Hancock, assistant planning manager at Rotherham Council, told the meeting: "This is the AMP. The principle of advanced manufacturing units here is well established. The main issue really between this development and previous developments is the amount of office space, specifically in unit 6 which is 50% office space, a little bit more than what we would consider to be normal, ancillary offices.

"The proposed occupier has put forward the reasons why they need that and there's a clear correlation between advanced manufacturing unit and the office space as well but because it's 50% office space and we can't guarantee who the occupier is going to be, they still need to do the sequential test for any normal town centre use."

Sequential tests ensure that development is located in the most sustainable location first (usually in town centres), before other, less sustainable locations are chosen.

Hancock, continued: "They've looked at all the town centre sites where there may be suitable office accommodation but there was only one available of this size [Westgate Chambers] but it's part of a larger regeneration plot that the council is selling in the town centre so it doesn't really meet the profile of what the company needs and is not a modern, bespoke office space so, whilst it might be available, it doesn't satisfy the needs of the occupier. And clearly it doesn't have the locational requirements of being on the AMP."

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Planning officers deemed the development to be appropriate, stating in a report to the planning board that: "The nature of the AMP is such that it is important that the floorspace is flexible in nature in terms of the size and type to meet specific requirements of its users; be that a company which require the space for a bespoke project or to incorporate a company which may need to expand in the coming months.

"In most cases the floorspace offered also needs to be linked with the rest of the business. In this instance the applicant argues that it makes little sense for the floorspace to be disaggregated into separate units and indeed it would prove unviable and impractical for them to develop the proposed floorspace over multiple sites/units to provide the required accommodation; especially as there is an active requirement for advanced manufacturers to collaborate across the AMP and so the notion of clustering is seen as important."

In approving the plans unanimously, Cllr. Alan Atkin, chair of the planning board, said: "I think we all put both hands up for more advanced manufacturing space."

There are nearly 1,000 people employed at the AMP, with the potential for over 2,000 new jobs to be created through further development.

Advanced Manufacturing Park website
Harworth Estates website

Images: Nikken Kosakusho Europe / twitter

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