SMMC, Rochdale Development Agency, Wilson Bowden, P, Rochdale Development Agency

Wilson Bowden is lined up to develop the SMMC. Credit: via Rochdale Development Agency

Plans in for 30,000 sq ft Atom Valley hub

The sustainable materials and manufacturing centre will be located in Rochdale by the Metrolink tram stop at Kingsway Business Park.

A planning application is currently awaiting validation, with a view to the hub being completed by summer 2026.

This hub is a key plank of the overall public-private Atom Valley project which spans half-a-dozen zones across Greater Manchester taking in parts of Bury, Oldham, and Rochdale.

The creation of a 17 million sq ft Atom Valley flexible employment space will eventually see the creation of 20,000 highly skilled roles and could turbocharge economic growth in the region.

SMMC, which will have a net floor space of 29,300 sq ft, will host laboratory space, workshops, metrology space, design and analysis studios, a lecture theatre, and meeting rooms.

It will also have flexible workspace for start-ups, office space for manufacturers, and a café.

Wilson Bowden is on the project team for the development.

The hub will go some way to supporting Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s ambition to build a world-class cluster of advanced materials and manufacturing in Atom Valley.

Central to the creation of the SMMC has been Greater Manchester’s Graphene, Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Alliance, a group of manufacturers, universities, and public bodies.

They aim to create an advanced manufacturing ‘super-cluster’ in the North of England, focused on advanced materials and industrial digital technologies to support advanced manufacturing in its transition to net zero.

The SMMC will focus on the three main activities central to GAMMA’s strategy, all of which are underpinned by AI/machine learning.

  • Sustainable Materials in Manufacturing
  • Industrial Digitalisation
  • Advanced Machinery

Atom Valley innovation group chair, Professor Richard Jones of the University of Manchester said: “The submission of planning for SMMC is an important milestone in the work of Greater Manchester to take an innovation-driven approach to transforming the city region.

“It will form a key part of Atom Valley and wider plans including ID Manchester, connecting companies with world-class capabilities from the University of Manchester and others.”

Chief executive appointment

Former Siemens senior executive Justin Kelly will be the founding chief executive officer of the centre.

Kelly is a chartered engineer, who joined Siemens in 1994 working in engineering, product, project management, and business unit leadership positions before embarking on senior marketing, strategy, sales, and business development roles.

Justin Kelly, SMMC, P, Rochdale Development Agency

Justin Kelly will be the founder and chief executive officer of the SMMC. Credit: Rochdale Development Agency

He was appointed to the Siemens UK executive management board in 2017 and holds a variety of non-exec roles including as the chair of Sustainable Ventures North, sitting on the Greater Manchester Business Board (LEP), Transport for the North Board, and chairing the Bright Futures Educational Trust Members.

Kelly said: “It is an incredible opportunity to be the founding chief executive officer of SMMC for so many reasons.

The location in Atom Valley will allow the centre to make such a positive impact on the economy of North Manchester and for its population through the sheer breadth of opportunity available.

“This centre will be at the forefront of technology, it will be will be transformational and it will be sustainable. I’m excited about that”.


Henry Henson, development manager at Wilson Bowden, said: “We are delighted to be playing a part in the delivery of this building which will be the central hub of Atom Valley.

“This is the initial hub and will act as a catalyst for new advanced manufacturing occupiers locating to the region. Kingsway’s unmatched location on the M62 will ensure regionally and nationally, that companies and people will have access to world-class technology and jobs.”

Cllr Neil Emmott, leader of Rochdale Council said: “Atom Valley, located across the boroughs of Rochdale, Oldham and Bury, offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for truly transformational economic growth.

“We can offer the people living here better life chances, our young people better life chances, and our businesses a great community in which to trade and work on a global basis.

“I am thrilled that the SMMC is making such great progress and look forward to seeing this visible example of our commitment to realise the vision for Atom Valley become a reality”

Cllr Danny Meredith, cabinet member and portfolio holder at Rochdale Council said: “We have seen through the success of CEAMS that there is a great appetite from businesses across Greater Manchester to access world-class R&D facilities to help develop and commercialise innovation.

“We are delighted that the SMMC will be located in Atom Valley which spans Rochdale, Oldham, and Bury offering great opportunities to residents and businesses alike.”


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