Growth areas according to the South Yorkshire Investment Zone prospectus. Credit: via Drees & Sommer

Drees & Sommer finds sites for SYMCA growth strategy

Drees & Sommer has selected 20 sites in public ownership across South Yorkshire that could be better used for developments that support the mayor’s economic plan.

Sarah Butler, divisional director for local and central government at Drees & Sommer, led an extensive study commissioned by South Yorkshire Combined Authority and funded by One Public Estate.

More than 5,000 sites were identified and filtered into core, flex and tail:

  • core – will remain for 10 years at least
  • flex – may only have five years left
  • tail – surplus to requirements and can be released.

There were 100 tail assets flagged in the initial search and then stakeholders reduced this to 20 following review. The public estate covered by the research included 22 organisations such as local authorities, blue light emergency services and GPs.

The 20 sites were mapped to support the eight growth areas identified by mayor Oliver Coppard in his investment zone prospectus. These range from manufacturing to clean energy production.

The average cost of bringing the tail sites up to decent standard – tackling the backlog of maintenance incidents – was £1m per asset. Around 40% of the overall public estate studied was found to be in a substandard condition, according to Drees & Sommer.

Butler said the 20 sites should be seen as a strategic pipeline, not each on its own.

The surplus sites should be seen as a whole not each on its own, says Sarah Butler. Credit: via Influential

“You wouldn’t view each one in isolation, it’s very much about viewing it as a whole, because some of them will link to masterplans collectively,” she explained.

The regional thinking and collective approach afforded by a combined authority views means a local authority might be convinced to hold onto a site for the greater regional good rather than sell it for housing to raise cash receipts.

The report is due to be published later this year. The precise locations and size of the sites recommended for development has not been revealed at this stage.

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