£200m bid to improve transport
The Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis and South Yorkshire council leaders have submitted a bid to the Government which could result in over £200 million for transport schemes.
The announcement, made at a meeting of the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority, outlines a proposal to focus on three specific ‘transport corridors’ across South Yorkshire.
Bosses at SCR predict the region could receive anywhere between £180 million to £220 million from the Transforming Cities Fund to spend on things such as railway station improvements, addressing congestion, promoting cycling and making bus services better.
If successful, South Yorkshire council leaders will look to focus on the River Don corridor which stretches from Sheffield city centre to the ongoing Unity development near Stainforth in Doncaster.
Another priority will be the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District which connects Sheffield and Rotherham with a specific focus on the Waverley area.
The Dearne Valley corridor is the third district, concentrating on settlements and links between Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster.
But the funding is not guaranteed – because the devolution agreement still hasn’t been signed off.
Under a fully functional devolution arrangement, Sheffield City Region would have automatically received around £120 million in the first phase of funding.
However, the region is expected to receive a certain pot of cash but the ‘low’ estimate of £180 million isn’t certain.
Officers have detailed proposals for the AMID corridor which connects Sheffield and Rotherham.
A report highlights the Sheffield Parkway and the M1 which is regularly hit with congestion issues and is monitored through an air quality zone.
Transport chiefs have said this has resulted from a ‘lack of effective public transport connections’ to new areas of employment at Waverley.
Documents also highlight congestion around the Inner Ring Road in Sheffield city centre and on radial routes to the west and south of the city where ‘buses are often delayed at peak times’.
The money will be spent on a new station on the tram-train network at Magna along with park and ride facilities; improvements to Darnall railway station; trials of low-emission buses to reduce pollution and identifying routes where public transport is often caught up in traffic jams.
More people would be encouraged to cycle and walk to access ‘employment opportunities in the main urban centre of Sheffield from Kelham/Pitsmoor and Burngreave’ areas.
It is understood 10 areas have been shortlisted which include areas like Nottingham/Derby, Leicestershire, Plymouth, Norwich, Portsmouth and West Yorkshire.
A draft business case will be sent to the Department for Transport later this month and a final business case will be submitted in November, so the schemes can be considered as part of the DfT's overall £1.22bn funding pot.
The combined authority will be asked to approve the final business case prior to its submission in the winter.
Mayor Jarvis said: “It is critical that we improve the transport system in our region, to create better access to major employment sites, reduce congestion, better integrate different modes of transport and make our transport network fit for the 21st century.
"That's why it's so important that we get this Transforming Cities Fund bid right, and why we've been working closely with partners across South Yorkshire to ensure that our bid has real potential to drive transformational change for our communities.
"Improving our transport links is crucial for growing our economy as we develop a Global Innovation Corridor, linking residents and businesses to our internationally-significant assets in areas such as advanced manufacturing, health and wellbeing, and engineering.
"I now look forward to working with the Department for Transport as we develop our detailed plans.”
Coun Bob Johnson, cabinet member for planning and development at Sheffield Council, said: "These are ambitious proposals that can make a real difference to people’s lives in Sheffield, improving sustainability and tackling climate change and air pollution.
“The fund will drive up productivity through improved connections between urban centres and suburbs. By improving access to work and homes, we will contribute towards addressing air pollution and reduce carbon emissions as well as delivering apprenticeships and improving skills.
“We need to give people the means to make choices about how they travel to work and this is a significant opportunity to invest in the areas that need it most, tackling inequality and ensuring a better quality of life for all.”
Coun Denise Lelliott, Rotherham Council’s cabinet member for jobs and the local economy, said: “I welcome the Mayor’s improvement plan for travel across South Yorkshire. In Rotherham this will include schemes to reduce traffic congestion, improving bus lanes and maximising the benefits of the tram train as well as helping people to move about more easily.”