Thousands of jobs set for approval on former Sheffield City Airport

Artist's impression of the AMRC2, courtesy of Bond Bryan architects
Artist's impression of the AMRC2, courtesy of Bond Bryan architects

Plans for a huge research campus creating thousands of high quality jobs on the former Sheffield City Airport are set to be approved.

Sheffield University wants to spend millions creating a second Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, to help the city compete on a global level.

The project would create 1,500 construction jobs and a further 1,515 jobs when up and running, generating £59m-a-year for the city region’s economy, according to a Sheffield City Council report.

It is recommended for approval when it goes before the planning committee next week, despite partly being in Green Belt.

The proposal is for nine hi-tech buildings on a site beside the Parkway, now Sheffield Business Park. One would be a 150ft ‘landmark’ with a striking design overlooking the busy road. It also includes a £30m National Material Institute, a £20m Fast Make Centre of Excellence, where prototypes move to manufacture within months, and a £30m Energy2050 development to help make energy more affordable, secure and sustainable.

As well as research buildings, it would include residential training and conference centres, while 50-acres would be left free for private businesses set to be attracted by the development.

A report by officers states: ‘The proposal is considered to be inappropriate development in the green belt. However, the considerable economic benefits and the absence of viable alternative sites outweigh harm.”

Another university project already on the airport site is nearing completion, the £43m Factory2050.

The scheme mirrors the university’s original Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre on the Rotherham side of the Parkway, which has attracted more than 40 hi-tech companies, including Rolls-Royce which last year opened a £110m factory. Meanwhile, the AMRC Training Centre for apprentices, which opened last year, already has plans to double in size.

Both developments are set to become the nucleus of an Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District, Europe’s largest research-led cluster of businesses and science research facilities.

It is already having an impact on at the university, applications for engineering degrees are up 18 per cent the report states.

Graham Sadler, Sheffield Business Park managing director, said: “The proposals included in this application will support the growth of the Sheffield City Region economy by making a significant contribution to increasing its GVA and delivering the Growth Plan.

“The project is also at the centre of the emerging Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District, supported by public and private partners which together with other sites will put Sheffield on the global map for advanced manufacturing, R&D and business growth. This will help attract original equipment manufacturing companies and their supply chain to the region.

“This application should be fully supported by all in the interests local, regional and national growth.”