17,000 jobs target in zone bid

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SHEFFIELD this week submitted a strategy for attracting millions of pounds of investment to the Lower Don Valley.

The council estimates that up to 17,000 jobs could be created if an area stretching between Attercliffe and Rotherham is declared an enterprise zone with an emphasis on advanced manufacturing.

Already the Government has announced that the Sheffield City Region will be given the stimulus – but it will be for a Local Enterprise Partnership, in which the private sector is in the majority, to decide the exact location.

Local authorities in Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster, North East Derbyshire, Bassetlaw and Bolsover are considering if they have proposals to submit to the LEP.

Firms will be encouraged to invest in the zones by being able to claim tax relief on new machinery and other plant, to pay lower business rates and to face lighter planning regulations. LEPs will be able to spend money raised from future business rates on infrastructure improvements such as roads.

Sheffield wants to build on a growing reputation for the development of specialist manufacturing – along with high tech industries linked to sports and health – in the Lower Don Valley.

In particular, Boeing and Rolls-Royce are based at Waverley, just over the border in Rotherham, and there is potential at the Airport Business Park and around the Outukumpu steel works.

Pockets of land are being earmarked for similar developments that are based on manufacturing quality and innovation, with Sheffield working with Rotherham Council to take advantage of the Government initiative.

It can argue that sites would be readily available, within easy reach of the M1 and can call upon a skilled workforce.

At the same time, the other authorities will underline the strengths of any of their respective submissions. They are expected to include building on the growth of Robin Hood Airport at Finningley and possibly developments for the waterside at Chesterfield and the former Markham Main Colliery.

The council’s director of development services, Les Sturch, said: “It’s a collaborative process, and Sheffield and Rotherham are working on a compelling proposition that could be attractive to the LEP and the city region.

“The Lower Don Valley is well positioned to provide a focus for a cluster of businesses in the advanced manufacturing sector. There are a series of sites that would benefit from being part of an enterprise zone, creating a modern manufacturing priority area.”

The LEP brings together the public and private sectors and it will decide which submission offers the best potential for boosting the local economy and generating jobs.

All the local authorities within its boundaries are represented on the board, but the private sector has a majority. The organisation is chaired by the chairman of Finance Yorkshire and former Master Cutler, James Newman.