Permission given for the UK’s largest open-die forge

Sheffield Forgemasters has gained planning permission for the construction of a building to house the UK’s largest open-die forging press.

The new 137,000 sq ft structure will be next to the existing forge building on Brightside Lane and as well as housing a new 13,000 tonne press, will include offices and a water pumping station.

The building forms part of a recapitalisation programme by the Ministry of Defence, which will see up to £400m invested in the site over ten years to upgrade the company’s defence-critical assets.

Gareth Barker, chief operating officer at Sheffield Forgemasters, said: “Securing planning permission for our new heavy forge line is a true landmark in the company’s history and will see work accelerate across the site as we move into 2023.

“In the early part of 2022, we undertook a major logistical exercise to ship the new press from Japan and place it in safe storage in the UK.

“The new facility will significantly improve our throughput of large, complex forgings and will enable us to push the envelope in terms of forging techniques and processes, as well as improving accuracy and reducing downtime.”

A target date of 2025 has been set for the completion of works and the new forging press to be in operation.

It will replace the company’s existing 10,000 tonne press, which was installed in the 1950s and upgraded in the 1980s.

Two enabling developments have previously been approved covering temporary construction site access as well as the partial demolition of the existing forge building and erection of new heat shield walls.

Joanna Gabrilatsou, director of planning– north, at JLL, added: “The planning process was complex and was only made possible through close collaboration with Sheffield City Council to provide a plan that both fits the needs of the business, but also protects jobs for local people.

“We are pleased to have obtained planning permission and are now getting underway with helping to deliver planning permission on the second phase of investment at Sheffield Forgemasters’ site.”

Sheffield Forgemasters currently employs more than 600 staff in the city, including about 100 graduates and 60 apprentices. The company was acquired by the Ministry of Defence in 2021.

The project team for the new forging line includes JLL, AEW Architects and Tetra Tech.