Wednesday, September 13, 2023

News: Rotherham sites included in South Yorkshire Investment Zone


Huge areas of Rotherham are set to benefit from Investment Zone status, and the support and financial incentives that come with it.

Local leaders have however secured agreement with the government NOT to use tax incentives as a means of attracting new firms and jobs.

Rothbiz revealed in July that the new Investment Zone will use the region’s success in advanced manufacturing and will help make South Yorkshire the best place to start, scale or relocate businesses from around the world, boosting the UK economy.

Primarily focused on connecting Sheffield to Rotherham (where the research assets such as The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) are already located), it is expected to create 8,000 new jobs and bring in £1.2bn worth of private investment by 2030.

An £80m fund (over five years for the Investment Zone) will be used to offer investors, developers and start-ups a combination of targeted support and financial interventions to start, scale up and relocate their businesses.

The South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) has recently published a prospectus for the South Yorkshire Inzestment Zone setting out the "next stage in the journey" in expanding the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID) to include town and city centres in Rotherham and Sheffield - "reflecting the growing presence of urban start-ups and scale ups, and to provide space to grow for our booming digital and data service companies."

The designation comes with a flexible funding offer of £80m over five years beginning in 2024/25, which is deployable across a range of interventions (R&D, skills, infrastructure, business support, planning and development) will drive innovation-led growth that will lead to more employment, higher pay and higher living standards in South Yorkshire.

Key Rotherham sites have been included in a proposed spatial core. These include the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) at Waverley, parts of Brinsworth and Canklow, the remaining regeneration sites at Templeborough, the Meadowbank Road area along with Holmes and Masbrough, the whole of Rotherham town centre, the Greasbrough Road area, Eastwood, Barbot Hall Industrial Estate, areas of Parkgate (but not the existing retail parks or adjacent land), and land at Aldwarke (but not the existing Liberty Steel works).

The area in the spatial core around Rotherham town centre is described in the prospectus as "a corridor of realised and future growth potential, traditionally geared toward industry and manufacturing that is now unlocking an enhanced and accelerated opportunity to invest and scale a business in an established advanced manufacturing technology hub.

"Adjacent to the economic assets clustered around the AMP, the zone offers openings for co-location in a rich industry ecosystem of national significance, comprising innovative, successful businesses who are world leaders in their field. A new integrated mainline station will provide strategic rail connections and support the development of a new business district adjacent to the station.

"This location includes key advanced manufacturing businesses (such as AESSEAL, AMG Superalloys, MLT advanced [MTL Advanced], Vector X-Cel Ltd, Trelleborg and Liberty Speciality Steels). Supported through both the Future High Streets Fund, Town Deal and Levelling Up Fund, over a £100m of new investment will revitalise the town. Through this the traditional retail offer is diversifying into complementary leisure and residential uses. A new market, cinema, hotel and restaurants alongside new homes and outstanding public realm will contribute to this vibrant new community."

Key interventions for the zone are being explored but they will not include tax incentives.

A SYMCA paper explains: "The main decision taken on interventions to date is not to pursue tax sites. This position is drawn from evidence that suggests geographically concentrated tax incentives can lead to displacement of activity rather than new activity. SYMCA had to push Government on this. A strong case, based on robust economic evidence, was successful in securing more flexible interventions.

"The risks of displacement ... were considered too large, as were the complications of administering tax sites. The flexibility of £80m funding was considered more valuable."

Interventions are likely to include investment in capital infrastructure (land remediation, new lab space); skills support (training, graduate schemes); dedicated support on planning applications; funding to develop supply chains; and funding to develop the business ecosystem through networking and accelerator programmes.

In the foreward to the prospectus, Oliver Coppard, mayor of South Yorkshire, said: "South Yorkshire has been a leader before: we were the centre of the steel and coal industries and a crucible of the Industrial Revolution; we’re the birthplace of football and the host of world snooker. South Yorkshire is the place countless world leading musicians, artists and thinkers call home, with breathtaking landscapes and warm, welcoming, connected communities.

"But it’s fair to say that for too long our history, our economic assets, our relatively low costs of capital, land and labour, and our high quality of lIfe have not been enough to attract sustained, meaningful investment.

"And while our strengths have sometimes been overlooked by those from outside, what’s perhaps worse is that all too often we have forgotten them ourselves.

"Which is why I’m now determined we will finally make change happen. Our time is now."

SYMCA website

Images: SYMCA


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