Council boss wants to replicate success of Advanced Manufacturing Park

Plans to set up a rail technology park in Leeds could initially create 3,000 jobs
Plans to set up a rail technology park in Leeds could initially create 3,000 jobs
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The man who helped to drive the growth of Yorkshire’s Advanced Manufacturing Park has revealed ambitions to replicate its success elsewhere in the region.

Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council, said plans to set up a rail technology park in the city’s enterprise zone could initially create 3,000 jobs.

Mr Riordan who was chief executive of regional development agency Yorkshire Forward when the Advanced Manufacturing Park was launched on the Rotherham-Sheffield border, said the new development would sit alongside Leeds University’s new high speed rail centre.

The Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration, announced last year, will be a centre of excellence for high speed rail planning, design, construction and manufacturing. It will be the UK’s first dedicated hub for high speed rail technologies in the UK.

Peter Woodward, one of the world’s leading experts in the geo-engineering of railways, will head up the new institute as the university’s chairman of high speed rail engineering.

The university has committed to investing in the project, which would require £10m initially plus a further tranche of £10m. Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership has been asked to co-fund it.

The area is targeted for major economic growth from the HS2 construction project, with the HS2 rolling stock depot also located to the east of Leeds.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Mr Riordan said: “We are going through a big period of transition at the moment. Students and universities are vital to that and are absolutely crucial to attracting the talent we need to run the businesses we need going forward.

“We think we can replicate the Advanced Manufacturing Park by clustering developments around the new institute and rolling stock depot.

“That’s the sort of thing that could make a material difference, not just to Leeds, but to the North and the UK.”

Mr Riordan said he was certain the development would happen and added it was a question of how quickly it would be built and how big it would be.

“We want to use that technology as a honeypot for potential investors and manufacturers who will also need to test their rolling stock,” he said. “We want them to cluster around that in the same way that the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Sheffield has been very successful.”

He added: “I am very confident that this could be an AMP mark two but based on high speed rail and very complementary to what is down in Sheffield.

“We’ve already got interest from rolling stock manufacturers across Europe.”

Mr Riordan believes HS2 is “essential” to the success of plans to double the size of Leeds city centre and provide 35,000 job.

Last year, HS2 bosses published a new report which suggested the high-speed rail project will provide a major economic boost for the city. It said the promise of high-speed rail services starting in the city by 2033 had acted as a “catalyst” for the Leeds South Bank scheme, which is due to be one of Europe’s largest city centre regeneration projects over the next 30 years.

The masterplan is intended to involve the creation of at least 8,000 new homes, a new city park and a reimagined River Aire waterfront.

The arrival of HS2 stations at a remodelled Leeds Railway Station is a key element of the plans.

Keith Wakefield, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee chairman said last month that HS2 represented a ‘once-in-a-generation opportunity’ for the Leeds City Region.