AMRC construction contract winner revealed



The University of Sheffield has appointed Merseyside-based construction firm Robertson to build its dedicated Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Samlesbury.

The builder, headquartered in Newton-le-Willows, has been awarded the work after a competitive tender process.

Work is expected to start on site in September and it is set to be completed during the second half of 2021.

The AMRC North West will sit at the heart of the Samlesbury Aerospace Enterprise Zone, part of the wider Lancashire Advanced Manufacturing and Energy Cluster.

A £20m grant from Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Deal will be used to build and equip the applied research centre, which will aim to accelerate and demonstrate innovative technologies, tools and techniques.

Steve Foxley, chief executive of the University of Sheffield AMRC, said: “We are pleased to have appointed Robertson as the contractor for our new dedicated applied research facility in the North West. This is an important step in realising our vision for the North and beyond.

"The new facility will not only place Lancashire at the forefront of advanced manufacturing and technologies, but it will be a catalyst for inward investment, supporting businesses in the region to innovate, drive up productivity, and lead manufacturing towards a smart, sustainable and resilient future.”

Robertson is one of the largest family-owned construction, infrastructure and support services businesses in the UK, and has a large portfolio of work that includes the regeneration of Blackpool town centre.

Dirk Pittaway, managing director of Robertson North West, said: “As a business with a strong North West presence we will be working wherever we can with local supply chain partners, further bolstering the local economy and proudly providing a platform for AMRC North West to take its place on the global stage.”

Steve Fogg, who chairs the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “The appointment of a contractor takes us one step closer to realising our vision for the site. 

“The Enterprise Zone will be one of the county’s sites of strategic significance and the location of the AMRC is testament to Lancashire's strong aerospace and advanced manufacturing capabilities.

“The decision by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership to invest £20m of its Growth Deal monies into this scheme is due to its confidence in the AMRC's ability to drive growth and increase productivity to ensure Lancashire remains at the forefront innovative and cutting-edge technologies.”

County Council leader Geoff Driver added: “Our development teams have been working hard for the past few months conducting significant site preparation to enable this work to commence.  This will not only support Lancashire’s existing businesses but also act as a catalyst to attract new business into the county.”

Alongside Robertson a full design team is in place, including Cartwright Pickard Architects, based in Manchester; Liverpool-headquartered Curtins Engineers; Arup, which has offices in Manchester and Liverpool; Manchester firm Gardiner and Theobald and Rex Procter and Partners from Leeds.

Currently operating from an interim facility provided by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in the centre of Preston, the growing AMRC North West team is dedicated to working with manufacturing businesses, from global aerospace giants to local small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

In addition to long-term collaborations, the team has already worked with more than 100 Lancashire manufacturing SMEs on one-off projects, as part of its mandate through ERDF/Growth Deal.