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All set for city’s £43m factory of the future

Artist's impression of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre's new Factory 2050.

Artist's impression of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre's new Factory 2050.

A proposed £43m development designed to help put Sheffield at the forefront of hi-tech, advanced manufacturing and research is all set for the green light this month.

The University of Sheffield is in line for council permission for a ‘factory of the future’ at Sheffield Business Park, off the Parkway, with the prospect of 160 construction and 75 permanent jobs, but with much wider economic benefits to the region, running to many hundreds of jobs.

It aims to build on the success of the original Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre on the other side of the Parkway, at Catcliffe.

The development is seen as significant in the region’s drive to establish a reputation for world-class manufacturing. At the same time, it is the final nail in the coffin for the city’s short-lived airport. ‘Factory 2050’ is due to be built on part of the former runway.

Councillors will advised by their officers to grant planning permission for two inter-linked buildings on April 22.

One potential obstacle is that the land is in the green belt where exceptional circumstances must be demonstrated to allow development.

However, the council says the location is an “untenable anomaly”.

Six years after Sheffield City Airport was officially closed, the future of the former runway and apron is taking off in a new direction.

The University of Sheffield is on the verge of council approval for an advanced manufacturing and research centre on the site, next to Sheffield Business Park, off the Parkway.

A proposed £43m development is designed to enhance the reputation of the Sheffield region as a world-class force in engineering expertise, and follows the University’s pioneering of the nearby Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and its construction of an £81m engineering building on part of the site of the old Jessop Hospital.

Two buildings are planned, the first being ‘Factory 2050’, which the University describes as “a stunning circular building”.

It will accommodate a range of technologies, including advanced robotics, flexible automation and new programming and training tools.

This type of venture offers genuine hope for the economic future for the region, say public and private sector representatives.

The aim is to build on the success of the University of Sheffield’s investment in the original Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre on the Advanced Manufacturing Park on the other side of the Parkway, at Waverley.

Since it opened in 2004, with the University working with Boeing and Rolls Royce, four buildings and two extensions have been added.

Keith Lilley, the University’s director of estates and facilities management, said: “The success of the AMRC over the last few years has shown clearly the demand there is for this kind of specialist, hi-tech, high value engineering activity, and it was clear that we would soon outgrow the small amount of land still available on the existing Waverley site.”

City planners have concluded there are no major obstacles, despite a green belt location that imposes strict conditions on what the land can be used for. However, the final word would rest with the Government because of the designation.

Council approval is expected on April 22.

Airport campaigners are fighting to the end, telling the council that Sheffield, without its own airport, one built with the help of public money, is being downgraded in the eyes of Europe.

 

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