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Connectivity is vital for growth, we will focus on key areas within the North of England which will form a key part of future economic growth. This month we’ll look at Sheffield City Region (SCR), a major Northern economy which will also provide a vital link between the North and the nation.
Sheffield City Region Strategically located in the heart of the country, it is home to 1.8 million people within the nine local authority areas of Barnsley, Bassetlaw, Bolsover, Chesterfield, Derbyshire Dales, North East Derbyshire, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield. These nine areas are home to approximately 52,000 businesses across a diverse economy; including a dynamic city centre, busy market towns and idyllic countryside.
Sheffield Cllr Julie Dore, leader of SCR Combined Authority said: “Our City Region boasts an impressive £30 billion GVA per year economy and with our devolution deal and a further growth plan deal with the government to transform the local economy, we are looking at some exciting times for the City Region, as we harness the potential as a major international economic force.”
Devolution and investment In December 2014 Sheffield City Region agreed a devolution deal which includes a metro mayor to be elected next year. The deal means that the region will be able to access £900m of government money over the next 30 years. Plans are to invest across transport, skills, creating jobs, inward investment and the support of local businesses.
The City Region is also benefiting from two growth deals. The first part of the deal was completed in March 2014 and successfully secured £320 million. In January 2015 Sheffield LEP secured a further £30 million, the investment will go towards new training facilities and a business investment and support programme by the LEP to create 4,400 new jobs. SCR will also develop transport links including tramline replacement and infrastructure work on the Midland Mainline which will mean faster journey times from Sheffield and Chesterfield to London.
Investment has also been driven into Doncaster’s successful bid to become home to the new National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR). The College will upskill tomorrows labour market, who will benefit from a 1,900 square metre workshop, teaching classrooms, 120 seat lecture theatre and open project spaces. NCHSR is scheduled for its first intake of students in September 2017.
Barnsley is also benefitting from a £17m funding agreement provided by the Sheffield City Region Investment Fund (SCRIF) which will lead to the delivery of new commercial units and thousands of new jobs at this key gateway location. Barnsley Council signed the funding agreement with SCR, as well as two development agreements with Harworth Estates, CRM and Hoyland Developments Ltd.
Diana Terris, Chief Executive of Barnsley Council said: “The Sheffield City Region Investment Fund money allows developers to provide key infrastructure needed to create conditions for investment and provide a supply of employment land. This is essential in helping to attract and retain new and existing businesses, which in turn will create a more competitive private sector employment base. We expect the scheme at Junction 36 to be completed by summer 2017. It will have a major impact for Barnsley as the project will potentially create around 4,500 direct jobs and an additional 1500 indirect jobs. We are receiving significant interest in our industrial units at R-evolution at Gateway 36, with at least one occupier due to move in before the end of the year.”
Iain Thomson, Haworth Estates Property Group, one of the development partners said: “SCRIF funding for new infrastructure in Barnsley has supported our transformation of old Colliery land into Gateway 36 – one of the region’s emerging employment centres. In less than two years we have developed nearly 200,000 sq. ft. of new employment space as part of the development’s first phase; SCRIF funding to upgrade the road network also unlocks a further 150 acres of employment land that could deliver a further 1.5m sq. ft. of space. We believe the total development could deliver up to 3,500 new jobs and nearly £200m additional Gross Value Added to Barnsley. When used intelligently, public funding like this can really transform brownfield land and deliver the kind of economic rebalancing of the North that the Government and others are pushing for.”
Further development in the SCR is Sheffield’s city centre Grey to Green project. The project involves transforming redundant roads in the city’s business district into attractive public spaces, including rain gardens, public art and street furniture.
Moreover, Sheffield has taken advantage of the current so-called golden era between Britain and China. Chinese construction group Sichuan Guodong is investing a phenomenal billion-pounds into the city – the biggest Chinese investment outside of London. The deal will last up to 60 years and will create hundreds if not thousands of jobs.
The Great Yorkshire Way and Doncaster airport One of the major infrastructure developments currently underway in Sheffield City Region is the Great Yorkshire Way, the first section of which was opened earlier this year as part of a £100m investment in infrastructure to support a logistics hub around the DSA airport.
This critical investment is supporting growth at DSA, which has recently been announced as the fastest growing airport in the country, alongside the Inland Port which is currently under construction as one of the largest sites in the country at 6,000,000 sq ft and recently announced Amazon as its anchor tenant.
Julie said: “The Great Yorkshire Way is a key infrastructure investment for the future of Sheffield City Region. It will help expand the region’s major airport at Doncaster and, with the inland port, be critical to business growth, in particular supporting SCR’s logistics industry.”
Linking Sheffield to the wider Northern network Transport for the North’s Strategic Transport Plan will support Sheffield City Region to build on these major investments and improve the transport links between Sheffield and other major growth hubs in the North.
Amy Harhoff, head of policy and strategy at Transport for the North said: “Improved connectivity between Sheffield City Region and the wider North is absolutely mission critical to the future of the Northern Powerhouse as a whole.
“We are investigating and developing proposals including a potential Trans Pennine tunnel and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR). These two developments would dramatically cut travel times by road and rail between Sheffield and Manchester and Sheffield and Leeds, and would have a major impact in linking Sheffield City Region into the wider northern economy.” The Trans Pennine tunnel between Sheffield City Region and Greater Manchester would result in the longest road tunnel in Europe, with an expected completion date of 2040. Plans for a major rail scheme, NPR, covered in more detail on pages 18-21, will also see major investments not just across the whole of the northern rail network but in particular key rail links between Sheffield City Region, Leeds and Manchester.
Amy said: “NPR and the Trans Pennine tunnel are huge developments, which we are currently looking at in terms of feasibility and cost. While the investment is considerable the impact for the long term could be huge for Sheffield City Region, placing it as the southern hub of the northern economy, and giving a further boost to the investment and growth already happening.
“Other key plans for Transport for the North include developing our Freight and Logistics work stream into a set of clear proposals within our strategic plan, supporting the key logistics capability identified in the Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review and Sheffield City Region’s own local plans. Our International Connectivity Commission chaired by John Cridland will also look at the importance of the North’s airports and ports for both passenger and freight.”