Sheffield transport plans ‘can grow economy by £500m’

Sheffield transport
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The authors of ambitious plans to grow Sheffield’s economy by £500m are to seek the opinions of business leaders in the New Year.

A major public consultation will be launched early in the New Year so that the public in the Sheffield City Region (SCR) can have their say on an updated Transport Strategy document which pledges to increase the numbers of people able to get to work and education by public transport in just 30 minutes.

SCR bosses say the move would generate £500m for the region’s economy as well as improve air quality and make the best use of the latest technologies.

The SCR Transport Strategy sets out plans running until 2040 and reflects the changes in transport that have developed since the City Region’s 2011 transport plan, with the roles of the Combined Authority, Transport for the North, and the likely impact of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

The SCR Strategy’s document said it will benefit people living and both bring forward and support schemes that benefit businesses and communities, strengthen links, and promote joint investment.

Martin McKervey, a member of the SCR’s Local Enterprise Partnership, said “Our vision is to continue to be a forward-looking city region, with integrated transport connections that support economic growth and improve quality of life for all.

“I am delighted that we are launching this plan for consultation, so that we can get the public’s views before we start commissioning work.

“The strategy will be refined based on the comments received.”

The overall document aims to grow the economy by £500m by increasing the numbers of people able to get to key employment sites and education by public transport in 30 minutes and to increase rail commuting between the SCR and both Greater Manchester and Leeds City Regions by several thousand journeys daily.

This also means ensuring 90 per cent of the population can reach a long-haul airport by public transport within 90 minutes, and bringing 70 per cent of people living in the most deprived areas within a 30-minute journey on public transport to a town, employment areas or education.

It also wants to create healthier and safer streets by increasing sustainable travel, in turn delivering a reduced accident rates, improving air quality, and reducing tailpipe carbon emissions.

Other aims are to have a zero carbon public transport network by 2040 and to have increased footfall in the main retail and leisure areas by 15 per cent.

In a bid to futureproof its plans it added that it wants to adopt innovative technologies by increasing transport-focussed research and development investment by £330m and to increase productivity by £75m through reducing journey times and using technology-based efficiencies.

The consultation process will involve MPS, local authorities and parish councils; businesses; and train and bus operators and Peel airports who operate nearby Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

It will also include special interest groups such as Friends of the Earth and Natural England, consumer groups such as Transport Focus, Sustrans, and tenants’ and residents’ associations.

Following the SCR Combined Authority’s agreement to publicly consult on its updated Transport Strategy, an online questionnaire will open on January 8 and remain open for responses until the end of March.

Responses can also be taken by post or email, with details posted after the New Year in key transport and community points across the region.

It also comes as Transport for the North (TfN) – which is set to become the country’s first sub-national statutory transport body - is also due to launch a consultation early in the New Year.