The UK government has confirmed today [14 July] that South Yorkshire will be the first region in the UK to host an investment zone.
Investment zones were announced by then-chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng in his growth plan in September 2022, where he outlined that these ‘zones’ would stimulate growth through relaxed planning regulations for councils and tax relief for local businesses.
These ‘clusters’ were set to be isolated to certain geographic areas, with eight to be created in England and four across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Key focuses of the zones will not just include economic growth but also stimulating research and industry infrastructure, as well as embedding skills across the UK workforce.
According to the government announcement, local towns and communities in Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley will benefit from ‘more than 8,000 new jobs’ and ‘£1.2bn in investment’ from the new Advanced Manufacturing Investment Zone.
Locations for the zones will be selected based on nearby universities and resources for high-growth industries, such as advanced manufacturing.
Other high-growth sectors identified by the government include science and green and/or sustainable industries.
Both the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University will form part of the zone, with Sheffield traditionally having a strong manufacturing legacy.
The area is also home to the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), which has advocated for the increased use of robotics and automation in businesses across the UK to drive productivity.
Jeremy Hunt, chancellor of the exchequer, said: “Our first Investment Zone is a shining example of how we will drive growth across the country.
“It’s already secured more than £80m of private investment, including backing from Boeing, and will help support more than 8,000 jobs by 2030.”
Industry and the government, include backing from American aerospace multinational Boeing, will contribute more than £80m in investment to support R&D in the area.
This funding could be allocated to specialist training programmes tailored to advanced manufacturing, as well as support for local businesses in the sector’s supply chains, to drive local economic activity.
The UK government has said it will continue to work with South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, the University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University and other local partners on the establishment of the zone.
Another two zones will also be introduced in Scotland, the Scottish and UK governments have announced, with Glasgow City Region and North East of Scotland reportedly ‘offering the most potential’.
Other proposed locations for zones across England include East Midlands Mayoral Combined Authority (MCA), the proposed North East MCA, Greater Manchester MCA, Liverpool City Region MCA, Tees Valley MCA, the West Midlands MCA and West Yorkshire MCA.