Huge appetite for investment in the region

Published 5th April 2017 at 10:23am

From Martin McKervey, Partner at international law firm Nabarro LLP and board member of the Sheffield City Region LEP and Transport for the North.

Martin McKervey, Nabarro

Back from MIPM Cannes, the global property show, and along with the rest of the magnificent Sheffield City Region team and our doughty sponsors, tired but elated!

We found a huge appetite for investment into the region at MIPIM, and in hearing about our newly launched £20million strategic Housing and Property Fund. The Fund will prioritise investment in enabling infrastructure, as well as supporting the actual construction of new homes.

Housing is of course an important consideration when investors are thinking about moving into an area. If you invest in property you need a committed workforce – and they need houses. This region is blessed in having a range of visionary developers who are building the homes the region needs for the future.

So, while we work away steadily at the key priorities of the Sheffield City Region (SCR) – promoting growth and jobs – we also work hard to bring in the investors in one of our fastest growing sectors, logistics. And when our feet have recovered from MIPIM, we are off to ‘Multimodal 2017’ in the Birmingham NEC next week (April 4 to 6) to promote the strength of logistics in the region.

It’s a strange word, multimodal. Basically it wraps up every mode of transport from trains and planes to cars and lorries and boats and barges. And if one word can describe this region, multimodal would do it: we have one of the UK’s fastest growing airports; key motorways and A roads for cars and lorries; and major rail connections to the rest of the UK and internationally.

Daily freight services connect Felixstowe and Southampton with Doncaster railport, and London is under 90 mins by train from key stations in the region. This has attracted key names in the rail industry here, including Hitachi, Wabtec, Volker Rail, EM Diesel and Unipart Rail.

We have tens of thousands of employees working in almost 50 distribution centres. There was the fantastic announcement last month that Amazon is set to create 1,050 jobs when it opens a £100million warehouse at the iPort (inland port) development in Doncaster in September. Lidl and CEVA will be neighbours.

Warehouses need to be connected to roads and railways, and the iPort development has a superb new motorway link which will shortly run to Doncaster Sheffield Airport. It will also have its own dedicated rail freight terminal.

At Markham Vale, the region’s large Enterprise Zone site alongside the M1, and one of the largest commercial parks in the UK, success stories abound, and investment by the SCR has helped to see hundreds of jobs created. Logistics business Great Bear has built a purpose designed warehousing facility which is the largest development at Markham Vale to date.

Freight also travels through airports, and our new Aero Centre at Doncaster Sheffield Airport is the ideal place for aerospace companies to do business with an Enterprise Zone benefitting from government tax incentives. Businesses based there will enjoy uncongested airspace, a central UK location and direct access to the Sheffield City Region. The airport runway, one of the longest in the North, caters for specialist heavy and urgent cargo.

Last, but they’re bullish about not being least, there are barges and canals. The Commercial Boat Operators Association, the national association for barge operators, has called on the Northern Powerhouse to look at a new canal across the Pennines. Currently Exol Lubricants runs boats from Hull to inland Rotherham, in the Sheffield City Region. We’re also bang midway between the East and West coast ports, connecting us with the Americas and the rest of the world.

Skilled staff are needed by manufacturers and logistics operators to ensure they don’t lose precious time due to maintenance problems. This region is helping to ensure we have the skilled engineers of the future by funding the infrastructure works for the new National College for High Speed Rail site at Doncaster.

The College, opening in September, will train 1,000 engineers a year and represents the next step in developing the highly skilled workforce needed to build HS2, the largest infrastructure project Britain has seen for decades, as well as future rail infrastructure projects.

The logistics sector is large and growing, with a healthy future. Here in the Sheffield City Region we’re ready for the future.

SCR facts

  • Across the region SCR hosts names such as Asos, TNT, M & S, B & Q, and Wilkinsons
  • We have let over 1 million sq ft of warehousing in the last year
  • Over 75% of the UK population can be reached within a 4.5hr HGV drive
  • Doncaster Rail Port has daily freight train services from East and South Coast ports

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