Wednesday, January 16, 2019

News: More housing at Keppel Wharf planned

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A prominent commercial unit in Rotherham town centre could be converted into residential use under recently submitted plans.

Completed in 2008, Keppel Wharf forms part of the high profile Westgate Demonstrator Project which brought new apartments to the riverside. The scheme, part of the much-vaunted Rotherham Renaissance programme saw around £60m worth of development carried out, creating The Old Market, Keppel Wharf and the Imperial Buildings.

Whilst the residential aspects have been popular with investors and tenants, the commercial space has been more hit and miss.

Keppel Wharf, built on the former baths site overlooking the river, created 53 residential apartments and 5,000 sq ft of commercial space, plus 2,500 sq ft of open terrace.

Now plans have been submitted to convert the current commercial space on the ground floor, upper ground and Mezzanine level, into residential space.

A paying tenant for the large unit overlooking the river, which was designed for retail or restaurant use, has never been in place. Instead the space has previously been used as an art gallery and arts space.

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The plans include introducing a "bed deck" to the upper ground floor to create a further 13 residential properties. The large bin store used for the commercial space will be re-purposed for the new residential properties.

If approved, nine two bed apartments and four one bed apartments, of which nine will be accommodated over two stories.

The plans, drawn up by Den Architecture, states: "The proposed development makes best use of this underutilised ground floor, upper ground and Mezzanine level demonstrating a carefully considered approach in order to achieve a scheme that is befitting of the area.

"The scheme sits comfortably within it's context, providing much needed high quality city centre residential units. The proposal respects the neighbouring properties.

"It is therefore considered that the proposal is appropriate for the site, context and only enhances what should be a desirable location."

Property agents at GVA, were brought in during 2017 to progress the sale of much of the development, with the client thought to be the developer, Illiad.

Images: Tom Austen

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News: New micropubs in Rotherham but no real ale festival

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The high profile real event at Magna in Rotherham looks to have been pulled for 2019.

The Rotherham Real Ale and Music Festival celebrated its 25th anniversary last year (despite the snow!). The three-day event attracts thousands of beer, food and music fans to Rotherham and raises thousands for local charities.

A recent post to the event's Facebook page states that this year's event has been cancelled.

It read: "Unfortunately, due to a number of unforeseen circumstances this year's beer festival has been cancelled.

"We are hoping to organise another festival in 2020."

Starting at Oakwood School in 1992, the event has gone on to become the largest indoor beer festival outside of London.

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Rotherham has seen a continued appetite for real ale with Something Brew Inn opening in Rawmarsh and Dragon's Tap opening at Stag roundabout. Little Haven operates from a former post office in Parkgate and the Rustic Tap has transformed a former restaurant in Maltby. The Wath Tap is Rotherham CAMRA branch's Pub of the Year for 2018.

Now plans have been submitted to convert a vacant 1,717 sq ft unit at Brinsworth into a micropub. The plans are for the former Brinsworth DIY and Trade Centre which sits alongside the Tesco Express and a parade of other shops.

Applicant, Sharon Oliver said in the plans that the new venue would cater for around 30 people but not have music or food. Planned opening hours are until 10:30pm Monday to Thursday, 11:00pm on Friday and Saturday, and 9:00pm on a Sunday.

Across the borough another small establishment appears to have already opened but planning documents show that a micropub on Dale Road to the rear of the existing Horse & Jockey pub, has caused concerns for nearby residents.

Rotherham Real Ale and Music Festival website

Images: Rotherham Real Ale and Music Festival

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News: AMRC accelerates use of recycled composites

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British motorsport and technology success story, Prodrive, is working with experts at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing on the latest lightweight composites.

Based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, the AMRC has a £4.5m state-of-the-art centre supporting the development of advanced composite materials inside the Factory of the Future. The centre works with complex hybrid components and systems, which require manufacturing expertise in both composite and metallic structures.

Prodrive, the world's most successful multi-disciplined motorsport businesses, is working with the AMRC on its P2T (Primary To Tertiary) philosophy, which is used for manufacturing recyclable composite components.

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Hannah Tew, partnership lead at the AMRC Composite Centre, said her team has been working with the company to further advance its recyclable composite process closer to full production. The focus is on automation and lowering production costs.

Hannah said: "The results from our initial press trials look promising and we're very much looking forward to supporting Prodrive in automating the process going forward."

​As P2T composites do not require heat or pressure during manufacture, there is no need for an autoclave - thus reducing costs and enabling the scaling up of production without major investment. The process uses a reactive thermoplastic resin instead of a thermosetting type and composites produced can be recycled multiple times.


Prodrive Composites believe they are the first to develop this technique with recycled fibres, which emerged through a development programme with an automotive OEM customer who required a high-performance structural material with lower environmental impact than conventional composites.

John McQuilliam, chief engineer at Prodrive Composites, said: "End-of-life recycling is one of the biggest debates in the composites world today. The issue affects automotive manufacturers and wider industries too, such as marine, where old fibreglass boats are often broken up and sent to landfill. The main barrier to recycling has been the type of resin used; thermosetting resins predominate but these cannot be readily recycled.

"We have been working with the AMRC and a series of large trial panels have been produced using an innovative process which can readily be automated. These trials have demonstrated that recyclable composite panels can be produced at a rate and cost to suit many industries.

"The unique feature of the P2T process is the reduced tooling cost and lead time compared to existing metallic or composite solutions."

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The ongoing research between the AMRC and Prodrive Composites is set to expand considerably over the coming year and is being closely monitored by numerous companies in various industries looking to improve their environmental impact with high performance, light-weight components.

AMRC website
Prodrive website

Images: AMRC / Prodrive

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

News: Rotherham Marks & Spencer on closure list

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National retailer, Marks & Spencer has announced plans to close a further 17 more stores with the loss of 1,000 jobs - including its Rotherham store at Parkgate.

Last year, M&S confirmed that it would close over 100 stores in total by 2022 in order to "radically reshape M&S's Clothing & Home space" alongside relocations, conversions, downsizes and the introduction of concessions.

The historic retailer made the decision to relocate its store on College Street in Rotherham town centre to Parkgate Shopping in the early 2000's.

Consultation is now underway staff at the Parkgate store over the proposed closure.

Other stores earmarked for closure include Huddersfield, Hull, Boston, Bedford, Buxton and and Weston-super-Mare.

Paula Varley, M&S Head of Region for South Yorkshire and East Midlands, said: "Proposing to close our Rotherham store has not been an easy decision to make.

"Over the coming weeks we'll be talking to each colleague individually as we go through the consultation process.

"We remain dedicated to our customers and, if the proposal goes ahead, we will continue to serve them from our other stores in the region including M&S Meadowhall."

M&S opened a Rotherham Simply Food store at Cortonwood in 2017.

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Sacha Berendji, retail, operations and property director at Marks & Spencer, explained last year: "We are making good progress with our plans to reshape our store estate to be more relevant to our customers and support our online growth plans. Closing stores isn't easy but it is vital for the future of M&S.

"Where we have closed stores, we are seeing an encouraging number of customers moving to nearby stores and enjoying shopping with us in a better environment, which is why we're continuing to transform our estate with pace."

The acceleration of the UK store estate programme is part of a wider five-year transformation plan to "make M&S special again."

Identifying that its store estate was not fit for the future, M&S has the ambition to create fewer, better Clothing & Home stores. Bosses identified a reduction of at least 25% of its 2016 store space with a higher quality store estate to complement online growth.

Stores will be "larger, digitally enabled, better located and more inspirational for customers to shop. They will also be supported by a seamless online experience across all digital channels including mobile and social, and by a conveniently located network of Food stores that offer customers a next-day collect in store service for Clothing & Home purchases."

M&S website

Images: Google Maps

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News: Taylor&Emmet to open new Rotherham office

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Expanding Sheffield solicitors, Taylor&Emmet LLP, are preparing to open a new office in Rotherham town centre.

One of the leading and most successful law firms in the South Yorkshire and Derbyshire region, Taylor&Emmet provides legal advice to business and private clients with current branches in Sheffield, Dronfield and Bakewell.

Office space at the heart of the historic High Street in Rotherham town centre is being readied for the law firm. 15 High Street was previously used by The Source and Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce.

38 employees joined Taylor&Emmet in 2018, 23 filling new positions created to meet increasing demand for its personal and business legal services.

This record level of recruitment due to growth is double that experienced by Taylor&Emmet in 2017 and reflects the significant gains made across all departments, as part of its ambitious expansion plans. The trend is set to continue next year as the firm looks for new markets, most notably launching its Rotherham office in January.

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The biggest investment in staff has been among the childcare department, which the firm set out to more than double in size in the summer. So far, three additional solicitors and a legal assistant have joined the existing team, to deliver highly specialist advice to local families and social services involved in conflicts surrounding children.

Sharna Poxon, head of human resources at Taylor&Emmet, said: "We have committed to increasing employee numbers at all levels throughout the last 12 months, to ensure we retain the high standards of client satisfaction for which we are renowned. Our business team, for example, has welcomed eight new recruits who bring expertise across a range of disciplines.

"We have identified further opportunities for growth next year and I am looking forward to continuing our exciting recruitment drive."

Taylor&Emmet website

Images: Taylor & Emmet

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