THE Advanced Manufacturing Park is in talks with at least four potential occupiers to take space at a proposed new development on its site as the supply of industrial units in the region diminishes.
Initial plans for the development, R-evolution @ The AMP, include around 100,000 sq ft of business and manufacturing floorspace as well as access roads, service yards and car parking.
Rotherham Council is currently considering providing financial support to kickstart the scheme put forward by landowner and developer Harworth Estates.
Ellen Cutler, inward investment director at the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The units will be built speculatively but there is quite a lot of interest in the site.
“The AMP is in discussions with at least four potential occupiers.”
She added: “The demand is encouraging so far but the support of Rotherham Council would be a major boost and it would share the risk with Harworth Estates.”
Harworth has submitted outline planning permission to Rotherham Council and is currently waiting for the council’s response. The company last night declined to comment further.
Up to 300 jobs could be created on the site, adjacent to the AMP, in the next four years.
The R-evolution development falls within the Enterprise Zone, which means there are incentives for firms to move in.
In a report to Cabinet members at Rotherham Council earlier this month, Tim O’Connell, business development manager at Rotherham Investment & Development Office, argued the case for financial support.
“This is a classic case of market failure; there is demand from advanced manufacturing companies to locate on the AMP and the opportunity to make space available, facilitating a next phase of growth which will attract and secure quality jobs and wealth in Rotherham. However, this is not deliverable through conventional means in the current economic climate.”
Based on the AMP, Harworth Estates was created to realise the property assets of what was UK Coal.
The AMP is part of the Waverley development, which is creating jobs and providing homes on a former coalfield site.
It is close to the site of the Battle of Orgreave, where pickets and police clashed in 1984 during the miners’ strike. The area was hit hard by the slump in the mining and steel industries.
With one of two new Rolls-Royce facilities, and two new University of Sheffield buildings, Harworth Estates expects these to be a further catalyst for interest from other companies wishing to locate on this prestigious advanced manufacturing development.
Rolls-Royce’s Advanced Blade Casting Facility (ABCF) is being built on the AMP, and is expected to produce its first blades in late 2014. This is the first of three Rolls-Royce facilities planned for the AMP, which was established through a private and public sector partnership to provide a centre of excellence for hi-tech engineering.
Apart from the blades casting facility, Rolls-Royce has identified locations at the AMP for a factory to manufacture, assemble and test components for the proposed next generation of civil nuclear power stations, and a third factory which could house one of Rolls-Royce’s suppliers.
Ms Cutler said the LEP was proactively encouraging advanced manufacturing businesses to base themselves in the region, particularly companies involved in the aerospace, automotive, oil and gas and medical sectors.
This week staff are attending Medica, one of the world’s largest medical tradeshows, being held in Dusseldorf, Germany, to rally support for the region.
“In terms of the interest of companies, it is picking up,” she said. “Over the last six months we have seen an increased interest in manufacturers looking in our area.”
The lack of quality industrial space in Yorkshire has reached a critical point, according to Rob Whatmuff, director at Leeds and Sheffield-based firm Lambert Smith Hampton. He said: “We need new developments on site to ensure that SME and mid-box occupier demand can be met.”
He added: “It’s a dangerous situation as businesses that want to expand or move into Yorkshire will have no choice but to look elsewhere for existing buildings.”
Ms Cutler added: “We have had enquiries for massive sheds from distributors and logistics companies but most of the interest is in smaller sheds. Most companies want buildings of 10,000-20,000 sq ft.”
Demand still there for the big units
Demand for smaller sheds may be overtaking large industrial units but Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership said it is still seeing demand for warehouses over 100,000 sq ft. Ellen Cutler, director at the LEP, said: “We are developing a reputation for being a good location for logistics companies, especially with our link to the airport.”
While speculative developments are still difficult to achieve, land remains available for companies to complete pre-let deals. Malcolm Stuart, based in Tadcaster, has just been appointed joint marketing agent on a 50-acre site off junction 34 of the A1M Doncaster bypass. It has outline planning permission for a building up to 750,000 sq ft.