Thursday, April 17, 2014

News: Rotherham raises objections to planned M1 service station

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Rotherham Council is raising objections to the proposed new £36m Motorway Services Area (MSA) at Junction 35 of the M1 in Sheffield.

Developer and operator, Extra MSA Group, has submitted plans for a new development on semi-mature woodland in the Green Belt at Smithy Wood, Cowley Hill just over the Rotherham border on the Chapeltown side of the motorway.

The plans include 33,000 sq ft of food court, ancillary retail and other customer facilities in addition to a 16 filling positions on the main forecourt and four filling positions on the HGV forecourt with forecourt shop, 639 parking spaces for cars, HGVs, coaches, caravans and motorcycles and an 80 bedroom hotel.

The development is expected to create around 400 construction jobs, with the Extra's MSAs typically employing between 250-300 full-time equivalent staff including part-time opportunities.

The applicants are also proposing to include the creation of a new 39 acre woodland with 60,000 new trees which will be open to the public for recreational use. Additionally, 172 acres of privately owned woodland will be opened to the public for community use.

Rotherham Council has been asked for its views given the close proximity of the site to the borough. In its response, the council stated that the proposal is unlikely to have a material adverse impact on highways in the Rotherham area but the reduction of ancient woodland should be considered to have an adverse impact on the integrity of the wider woodlands, including that within the Rotherham borough.

The issue of visual impact of the woodland clearing on views out of the borough from the Thorpe Hesley, Kimberworth and Wentworth area is also being raised.

A report to the planning board at Rotherham Council, stated: "It is not considered that sufficient effort has been given to the ability to avoid adverse impact or to provide suitable mitigation within the development site. It is strongly recommended that further consideration is given to avoiding adverse impact by the identification of an alternative location.

"It is not considered that the development proposals demonstrate a need for the development at this location that outweighs the loss of ancient woodland, priority habitat and non-statutory site interests. As such, the proposal is contrary to national and local planning policy in respect of biodiversity."

A number of potential sites for a service area on the busy stretch of the M1 have been studied. These include sites in Rotherham such as land at J33 which has extant planning permission for a five storey 200 bedroom hotel and 350 parking spaces, landscaping and access road, with travel lodge, diner / restaurant and petrol filling station. The site was discounted due to concerns over whether the extant plans are deliverable.

Land south-west of J35 was also discounted due to the close proximity to existing and potential residential development in Thorpe Hesley.

Sue Manns, director of Pegasus Group who prepared the application for Extra, said: "An exhaustive amount of research, analysis and impact assessments have to be undertaken to arrive at the planning submission stage and our extensive work has identified that the proposed site is the only viable option for the creation of the new MSA, for which a clear need has been determined.

"The designs demonstrate the level of attention that has been paid to ensuring that the MSA blends as seamlessly into its surroundings as possible and reflects the high level of commitment by Extra to creating a development of excellence that will positively contribute to the local economy as well as ensuring the safety of drivers on this popular stretch of motorway."

Extra Services website

Images: Extra / Pegasus Group

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News: Portas positive post Rotherham return

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Mary Portas, the leading retail consultant called on by the Government to review the nation's High Street, has taken to Facebook to discuss her recent return visit to Rotherham. Here's the post in full:

It's great Up North!

I took a trip to Rotherham yesterday and it’s hard to say just how excited I was with what I saw. Rotherham was one of the original Portas Pilot towns and when I visited in September 2011, as part of the fact finding for the Portas review, it's fair to say that things were not great.

The Local Data Company was regularly giving them top spot for the number of vacant retail properties (unfairly as it turned out), the Guardian were knocking them and using Rotherham as a reason why, in their view, we should give up on the High Street. It was all too easy for everybody to be critical and to use Rotherham as the poster child for boarded up Britain.

When I first met them, the Town Team were already ahead of the game. They had a huge task but you could just tell that they were going to give it a massive go. They also had a huge advantage – that the Local Authority was one of the sadly all too rare "enlightened" ones who already had High Street regeneration at the top of their strategic priorities list.

The government chose them as a Pilot town and then they also gained extra funding from British Land and The High Street Renewal Fund and yesterday Brandon Lewis, the Minister with responsibility for the High Street and I made a visit to see how they are getting on.

It's just fantastic! The High Street is transformed, new shops are open, ones that have been there for a while are revitalised, it looks and feels like a High Street again. Tumbleweed has been replaced by people. Footfall has grown (in 2011/12 by 8%!) and the vacancy rate is now one of the better ones for a comparable town at 14%. That's down from 29% (according to LDC) and a 4% decrease since 2010.

Let's just pause for a moment and think about that. 86 new businesses opened their doors in the last 3 years. 86 entrepreneurs who believe in Rotherham and who are having a go. That's the spirit that will sort out our most important community spaces and give them a future.

And what do local people think? Well, bear in mind this is all in the shadow of Meadowhall, but people are not only coming back but they like it. For example 35% of shoppers said that the main reason for visiting is that Rotherham had a good range of shops they liked compared to only 2% who said this in 2009.

Even better, 92% of shoppers are satisfied or very satisfied with the independent shopping offer (compared to 42% in 2009).

One of the most impressive shiny new things on the High Street is "The Makers Emporium." I love it. 3000 sq feet of flexible space at affordable rents that local craftspeople can use to both make their beautiful stuff and also to sell it. It's fabulously presented and I liked just about everything in there - my colleague's wife will be enjoying some of them as Birthday presents as he went a bit mad! Just two of the businesses are here – this fella makes clever coat hangers and so on from reclaimed cutlery. This business produces the cutest kids shoes and clothes.

How has all of this been achieved? Sheer grit and determination by heroes like Bernadette Rushton and Paul Woodcock amongst others but here's a list of what makes them a successful Pilot in my view – happy to take feedback on this btw.

• They saw it coming and started planning.
• Not being intimidated by something like Meadowhall – instead deciding to create an altogether more human alternative.
• Recognising that you have to change things and it will still take a while for perceptions even then – in other words it’s a long game.
• Rotherham are clever at raising money including match funding and spending it wisely.
• Their local authority are hugely supportive (for example using their ability to raise prudential funding at reasonable rates to support local businesses when the banks won't or can't help)
• Linking with The Source – the local training initiative to make sure there's a solid retail Learning and Development bedrock to this
• Thinking beyond retail - their plan also involves residential
• Be creative with retail – the Makers Emporium is gold!
• Integrating with the rest of the town centre
• Did I mention sheer Yorkshire grit and determination?

There's a way to go for Rotherham but as I said to the many journalists there yesterday, I am bursting with pride on what's been achieved so far. Viva Rotherham.

Martin Kimber, chief executive of Rotherham Council said: "Rotherham has made a real impression on Mary. She was full of praise the first time she visited us and we’re seen as a real beacon of success for the Portas Pilot."

Mary Portas website

Images: RMBC

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News: Martek defibrillator saves pupil's life

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The life of a 16 year old pupil was saved recently thanks to an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) supplied by Rotherham-based Martek Medical through one of its distributors to a school in Romsey, Hampshire.

Mountbatten School bought the Lifeline AED just two months before the incident, which was put into action by quick thinking PE teacher Emma Denham. Emma was being observed taking a class as part of the interview process at the school when 16 year old Sam Mangoro collapsed and suffered a heart attack on the sports hall floor. His heart stopped, sending him into cardiac arrest. Ms Denham undertook CPR whilst deputy headteacher Joanna Scott raced to get the Lifeline AED.

Teaching staff at the school had been trained to use the AED and once defibrillation had been carried out, an ambulance took him to the nearest hospital where he was placed in a medically induced coma.

Sam's father Michael said: "Their actions have really given us the opportunity to hope. If the school hadn't had a defibrillator it could have been a lot different. It is incredible and we feel so fortunate for that. He was in the right place at the right time, with people who were trained to know what to do."

Ian Couldwell, product manager for Martek Medical, added: "There are a large number of schools across the country that have our Lifeline AEDs on their premises, which gives them the peace of mind that should an incident occur, they're able to deal with it.

"Defibrillation within a few minutes can help increased the chance of survival by 75 per cent. And we're delighted to hear Sam is making a steady recovery in hospital and wish him all the best in the future."

Manvers-based Martek Marine is one of the world leaders in the supply of safety and environmental monitoring systems for the shipping industry. Martek Medical specialises in lifesaving products including semi automatic external defibrillators that guide the user through the stressful experience of treating someone suffering from a SCA.

SCA is the biggest killer in the world, accounting for around 140,000 deaths in the UK alone each year. Speed of treatment is vital, as the chances of successful defibrillation decline at a rate of around 10% with each minute that passes.

Martek Medical is the official UK distributor for Defibtech LLC, a leading innovator in the field of automated external defibrillators (AEDs). Martek's AEDs are being placed in schools, shopping centres, leisure centres and gyms across the country.

Sam has made an "amazing recovery" and recently returned to school.

Martek Medical website

Images: Lynda Mangoro / Twitter

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News: AESSEAL launch latest product

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Award-winning Rotherham manufacturer, AESSEAL, has launched the EasyClean seal support system that will dramatically increase the hygiene standards for support systems in food and pharmaceutical industries.

With global headquarters at Templeborough, AESSEAL is the world's fourth-largest designer and manufacturer of mechanical seals for a wide range of industries, including oil and gas, food, water, mining and pharmaceuticals.

Enjoying 30 consecutive years of growth in sales and profit, AES continues to invest in developing new products with the patent pending EasyClean system the latest to launch.

Despite the requirements of the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries to maintain a high level of hygiene in the production lines and throughout their factories, it is frequently the case that the seal support systems harbour dirt and bacteria on the interior of the main vessel. This is due to their enclosed design, which makes them difficult to inspect, clean and maintain high levels of hygiene.

AESSEAL's system has a detachable lower section, which enables the vessel to be taken apart for inspection and cleaning. This removable lower section, offers manufacturers the opportunity to quickly inspect and clean their systems without severely impacting on costs, production or product quality, whilst also eliminating the harmful build up of dirt and bacteria.

A spokesperson fro AESSEAL said: "Leading the market in ease of use and affordability, EasyClean sets new standards in support system capabilities. EasyClean is both a convenient and cost effective solution allowing manufacturers to further reduce the risk of product contamination in industries where a high standard of cleanliness is essential."

AES Engineering Ltd employs more than 1,600 people worldwide, of whom nearly 600 are in the UK and Ireland and more than 330 in Rotherham.

AESSEAL website

Images: AESSEAL

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

News: Rotherham sets example for retail revival

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"You give us the money and we'll make it work." That was the message from the Labour leader of Rotherham Council to the Tory minister for high streets, town centres and markets, as they opened the newest retail outlet on Rotherham's revitalised High Street, alongside leading retail marketing consultant, Mary Portas.

The evidence is there for all to see. Firstly, the government has stumped over £350,000 to support the council and its town team partners in realising its vision to create a vibrant and thriving town centre with a different retail offer by fostering new, independent businesses.

And secondly, Roger Stone is right, the funding has been used wisely, with the opening of over 80 shops and an overall increase of 13% in pedestrian foot flow in the past three years.

Granted, in those three years, some national and independent retailers have closed their Rotherham stores. Ethel Austin, Internacionale, and Co-op Travel have found the climate tough and closed stores in towns and cities throughout the UK, not just Rotherham.

Helping to go a long way to fill the voids in the South Yorkshire town that has been identified as having the highest amount of retail competition in the UK, are independent retailers supported by the council's Business Vitality Grants Scheme, which since 2009 has supported over 20 businesses to get started, offering help towards rent and fit-out costs for retailers that have potential to widen the appeal and drive footfall for the benefit of all businesses.

Pop-up shops have also been successful with the council offering a prime retail unit in the refurbished Imperial Buildings on flexible and attractive lease terms to help businesses get up and running. After an initial trial, Vintage Dolls has this month celebrated its first birthday.

The most recent addition to Rotherham's retail mix is the Makers Emporium, a project offering 3,000 sq ft of retail space on a temporary basis to more than 30 local entrepreneurs and designers to launch their products and test the market.

Physical regeneration is also taking place on the High Street with local retailer Chris Hamby progressing the next stage of the heritage-led project to bring historic buildings back into use.

Miele Delicatessen, a new Italian deli has also opened in the refurbished former Muntus department store on the High Street, selling a range of authentic food and quality coffee.

High Streets Minister Brandon Lewis and retail expert Mary Portas visited Rotherham to see first hand the progress being made and to officially open the Makers Emporium.
Brandon Lewis MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government who has the responsibility for improving high streets and town centres, said: "Rotherham is a prime example of how a struggling town centre can be turned around into a success story, and in the last three years 86 new businesses have opened their doors in the high street.

"The town has grabbed the opportunities offered to it and is a great example of how our high streets can become shopping destinations that serve the whole community. It's an example to other town centres around the country."

Having last visited Rotherham town centre in 2011 as part of her Government-commissioned review into the nation's High Street, Mary Portas met with some of the independent retailers, the town team and Chris Hamby. She said: "I'm bursting with pride at everything that's been achieved in Rotherham.

"The town team have done an extraordinary job increasing footfall and reducing vacancy rates but most of all producing a place people want to shop in and feel at home in. They have huge competition from some of the UK's biggest shopping malls right on the doorstep but they are bearing out the national statistics that people prefer high streets."

Joining independent retailers like colourful gift shop, Patchwork Pig, and specialists in all things manly, Things That Boys Like, the former Snafu rock bar has been transformed into a light and airy retail space selling locally-designed and hand-crafted products.

Funded by the Government's High Street Renewal Award and delivered in partnership between the council, The Source and Rotherham Youth Enterprise, The Makers Emporium aims to support new start-businesses looking to trade for the first time, raise awareness of their products and see what it takes to run their own business.

Makers include Our Tiny Bees, Badger & Kingdom, Oddle Doddle Jewellery, Poco Nido, Seraphina Pearl Designs and Panache par Paris.

Terry Cooper of Tea Wear Recycled Cutlery, who works with metal and wood to create unique items of jewellery and homewares, sold Mary Portas a set of coat hooks fashioned from recycled ornate spoons. He summed up the new project: "When everywhere looks the same and you could be stood on any High Street in the UK, what we need is something unique. This place is, and it just lifts everything."

Makers Emporium website
Rotherham town centre website

Images: Tom Austen / Miele Delicatessen / Twitter

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