Sheffield City Region ‘needs 25-year plan’

Sir Keith Burnett
Sir Keith Burnett
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SOUTH YORKSHIRE needs a 25-year plan to transform skills, health and housing standards if it is to close the economic gap with the rest of the country, according to a new report.

Increasing the number of new businesses and investment in research by 50 per cent and the building of 150,000 new homes are among the recommendations of the document produced by Sheffield’s two universities and its hospitals.

Setting the ambition of growing the local economy by one per cent more than the national average every year, the report says the area will need a 30 per cent increase in the number of people judged to be “highly skilled”.

It warns that South Yorkshire’s housing problems will require more than just thousands of new homes, calling for investment in raising the standard of existing properties and improving the choice available.

The Sheffield City Region “vision” document also identifies transport improvements, better schools and higher health standards as keys to the region’s future.

Sheffield University, Sheffield Hallam University and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have produced the “A Better Future Together” report to offer ideas for how the area should approach the next quarter of a century.

Sheffield University president Sir Keith Burnett said: “We have world-leading research in everything - from engineering to medicine, digital technologies and next-generation materials right here in our region, with a historic opportunity to use these assets to make a real difference for the future.

“We are already seeing how this can deliver transformational opportunities through the investments of companies such as Boeing, Rolls-Royce and most-recently McLaren working with our world-class engineering talent.

“However, we know that realising our potential for future global partnerships will need a long-term vision. We need to be a region which works together and succeeds together - attracting international investment to the benefit of the region and the nation.

“This is why we believe it matters so much that we share an ambitious vision for the future. It is our hope that this report is an important step in developing such a vision.”

The organisations behind the report will now guage the level of support in the area for its recommendations and seek the reaction of political leaders in the area.

An action could be drawn up setting out how the goals identified in the report could be achieved.

Sir Stephen Houghton, chairman of the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority which brings together councils to work on areas such as transport and skills, said: “The region has great assets and has made enormous strides, but we still face challenges and need to do more.

“Only by harnessing the capabilities of everyone across the whole of the City Region will we be able to realise its potential.

“That means creating economic growth for all our places and more importantly all our people irrespective of their economic and social situations.

“We now need to examine how we can take this forward together and get ownership across all geographies, sectors and communities.”