A giant former steel site next to Meadowhall is set to be turned into a depot for lorries - creating thousands of jobs - in a move set to raise further concerns over congestion.
Peel Logistics Property has bought the 48-acre site beside Junction 34 of the M1 from steel company Outokumpu for £8.5m.
The firm said it was a ‘prime site’ close to Meadowhall and Sheffield city centre and it planned to build ‘multiple’ units for logistics occupiers.
The deal comes after Outokumpu put the site on the market in October 2015. The giant plot off Shepcote Lane in Tinsley was once home to more than a dozen buildings where thousands worked. They were razed in 2011 and the site cleared.
But the sale has taken 19 months, partly, it is understood, due to concerns over possible contamination and the costs of a clean up to remove heavy metals and acids.
Jeremy Greenland, Peel Logistics chief executive, said: “We are very pleased to secure a prime site like this, ideally placed to serve both national and urban logistics occupiers.”
Neil Dickinson, Peel Logistics chief operations officer, said: “This project is a great opportunity to deliver over 800,000 sq ft of new logistics space by regenerating a dormant site and potentially creating thousands of new jobs in the region.”
The site also has its own railway line. A planning application is expected to be submitted this year with construction starting next year.
But any development will be closely scrutinised by objectors who raised concerns over air quality and traffic congestion in the area.
Last week, Sheffield City Council revealed a £1.4m plan to tackle congestion around Junctions 33 and 34 of the M1
It wants to find ways to keep traffic moving in areas plagued by jams – but critical to the city’s fortunes.
The issue is so bad plans for a £300m Meadowhall extension have been halted over fears the road layout is ‘inadequate’. And there are fears congestion could act as a brake on big projects including the Olympic Legacy Park and the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District between Catcliffe and Tinsley.
Earlier this year, the Department for Transport announced £1.4m funding for the city council to look at the problem.
Now, the authority has hired Leeds-based consultants WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff to come up with answers, including ‘providing additional routes between Sheffield and Rotherham without the need to pass through existing motorway junctions’
Outokumpu’s operations in Sheffield remain unchanged, said Martin Pinder, vice president of human resources UK.
He added: “We are glad that we found a buyer for the redevelopment of this cleared and unused site located in the distribution and industrial area close to Sheffield city centre, creating business and employment opportunities in the Sheffield area.”
The transaction reduces Outokumpu’s net debt by about £8.45m, he added.
The Outokumpu site was majorly developed in the 1950s by the British Steel Corporation for the cold rolling and cutting of stainless steel into sheets of metal. It became British Steel Stainless after privatisation in the 1980s. In 1992 it was sold to Swedish company Avesta. Avesta Sheffield became Avesta Polarit when Finnish firm Outokumpu bought a share and then simply Outokumpu in 2002 when it bought the lot.
Operations were wound down due to over-capacity in Europe and it finally closed in 2005. The site was cleared in 2011. Outokumpu still runs a melt shop, bar company and sales and distribution company in Sheffield, employing 550.