WSP to lead Sheffield city region innovation corridor study

WSP has been appointed by Sheffield City Council in partnership with Rotherham Borough Council to lead on a study that will develop the business case for a Sheffield city region ‘Innovation Corridor’. The company will assess the options and develop plans to reduce congestion and improve connectivity between Sheffield and Rotherham to maximise the potential for growth of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID). 

The study will seek to reduce pressure on both J33 and J34 of the M1 by exploring options to provide alternatives to the M1 for local traffic, and potentially provide additional routes between Sheffield and Rotherham without the need for drivers to pass through existing motorway junctions. 

WSP will provide a range of specialist services including transport modelling, environmental impact assessment, flood risk and ecology in conducting a feasibility and economic appraisal to create a viable scheme that can be funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) through its Large Local Major Scheme Fund, as announced in the 2016 Autumn Statement.  The study also is supported by Highways England and the Sheffield City Region LEP.  

The Innovation Corridor, located between Sheffield and Rotherham and based around Junctions 33 and 34, is home to a number of businesses and university centres. It houses the new factories for McLaren and Boeing, the Advanced Manufacturing Park and Factory 2050. It has the potential to play a critical role nationally and internationally as the place for leading manufacturers to come for research, production and industrial collaboration.

In November last year, Sheffield City Council announced a £1.4m programme to improve capacity around the two junctions of the M1. Tom Finnegan-Smith, Head of Highways and Transport at Sheffield City Council said: “We are pleased to announce this major new review of capacity issues around AMID which will provide an opportunity to deliver transformational infrastructure that will ultimately improve accessibility in and around the area for the benefit of the whole city region. Tackling capacity problems in the area will enable the economy to achieve its full potential around the Innovation Corridor and throughout the Lower Don Valley between Sheffield and Rotherham.”  

Poor connectivity into and around the AMID has been identified by the council as a key priority in its aim to attract more companies to move there, enabling people and businesses across the Sheffield city region to access new opportunities in growing markets. Improved transport links will also help facilitate improved access between rapidly emerging economic growth sites in the area which include almost 4,000 new homes at Waverley and further commercial developments at the Sheffield Airport Business Park.

Mike Holmes, technical director at WSP in Leeds, said: “We need to facilitate the strategic infrastructure required to support the city region’s aspirations to create the UK’s largest research-led advanced manufacturing cluster which has the potential to be its primary economic driver and a major part of the Northern Powerhouse. Current capacity issues are only set to increase as more businesses and residents locate in the area which already suffers from a lack of good public transport links. It’s vital that we find deliverable solutions to improve connectivity by road and sustainable transport options, whilst anticipating the future growth of the site.” 

Over the next 18 months WSP will carry out a series of studies incorporating regular stakeholder engagement. The final report will be presented to the Sheffield city region who will submit the outline business case to the Department for Transport next year. A detailed design and formal planning process will follow. 

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