Tuesday, July 23, 2019

News: Study confirms no South Yorkshire parkway station on HS2 line

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A parkway station could be accommodated on the new high speed line through South Yorkshire but high costs and a lack of extra demand has lead HS2 Ltd to conclude that there is no case for one to be included in the multi-billion pound project.

A site at Wales in Rotherham was one of two remaining possible locations.

Following a contentious update, HS2 services between London and Sheffield would take a spur off the new north-south high speed line and travel directly to the existing Sheffield Midland station using the existing railway line. The HS2 line to Leeds would travel east of Rotherham following the M1 and M18 before heading through the Dearne Valley. A northern loop from Sheffield joining the HS2 line has still yet to be confirmed.

In 2016 HS2 were asked to study possible sites for a parkway station but a report, due in 2017, has only just been published.

Alongside Wales, Bramley and Hooton Roberts in Rotherham, also on the shortlist was Mexborough, Hickleton and Clayton in Doncaster plus sites at Hemsworth and Fitzwilliam before the previously proposed new HS2 depot at Crofton in West Yorkshire.

Now additional work has been carried out on the M18 route which concludes that "HS2 Ltd has not been able to identify a clear economic or strategic case for the inclusion of a parkway station to serve the South Yorkshire market on the HS2 mainline."

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The work modeled potential demand for various scenarios to find out the impact on HS2 passenger numbers in South Yorkshire and the benefits to, and impacts on, the overall value for money assessment of the HS2 business case.

A station located on the conventional rail network north of Sheffield served by HS2 services appears to perform worse than HS2 mainline parkway station options in terms of passenger numbers. It does, however, show marginally positive increases in benefits and revenues to the overall value for money assessment of the HS2 business case.

Rothbiz reported last week that the Sheffield City Region's (SCR's) new rail plan confirms a preferred location of a site in Goldthorpe for a proposed new Barnsley Dearne Valley railway station. The latest report from HS2 Ltd shows that re-aligning the HS2 line to create a station in this area on a new intersection between the HS2 and conventional rail line is not being progressed.

Work carried out on the updated M18 route saw HS2 Ltd assess Wales in Rotherham and Hemsworth in West Yorkshire as potential parkway station locations.

Bramley was discounted as it would have no conventional rail connectivity, and would therefore not provide for integration with the proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) network. Hooton Roberts was discounted as it would also require a new HS2 mainline alignment which would increase environmental impacts.
The proposed site at Wales (pictured, top) would be to the west of the M1 where the HS2 line is set to cross the classic railway line between Sheffield and Worksop, providing a link to the NPR network which aims to improve connections from Sheffield to Leeds and Sheffield to Manchester.

However, the required realignment of the HS2 mainline would result in increased impacts and significant costs. Infrastructure, tunnels and viaducts would increase the cost of the scheme on this part of the Phase 2b route by £386m. The documents add that fully providing a new parkway station at Wales, along with the associated changes that would be required to the HS2 mainline, would result in a cost increase in the region of £665m.

A station at Hemsworth would result in an increase in the region of £141m for the cost of scheme and fully providing a new parkway station would result in a cost increase in the region of £396m.

The 2017 documents also confirm that it could be beneficial to extend HS2 services from Sheffield to Meadowhall, Rotherham and the Dearne Valley Parkway but just one train per hour may not be viable. Infrastructure costs to take HS2 trains to Rotherham Central would be around £224m, with extending HS2 services to a new Rotherham mainline station, like that included in the SCR's new rail plan, would be £142m in infrastructure costs.

Independent economic analysis has shown that new stations in Rotherham and in the Dearne Valley on a proposed NPR line could boost the economic benefits for the Sheffield city region (SCR) from HS2.

HS2 Ltd website

Images: Google Maps / HS2

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News: On the waterfront - riverside living planned for baths site

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A development of new family homes and large scale apartment blocks are planned for a vacant riverside site on the edge of Rotherham town centre.

Rothbiz reported last week that Rotherham Council had submitted the first two sets of proposals for a range of new housing on sites that it owns in order to boost the number of people living in the town centre.

Now details of a third set of plans have been published for the site of the former Sheffield Road baths which backs on to the River Don.

The authority has worked with architects, Bond Bryan, to put forward a development for the 2.17 acre site that is currently used as a car park on the opposite river bank to the New York Stadium.

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78 dwellings are proposed, with four and five storey apartments (one bed and two bed) facing onto Sheffield Road and two and three bed family homes facing onto the River Don.

Car parking spaces are arranged as under-croft parking and a riverside walk will be maintained.

The plans state: "Over the course of the past year a vast amount of ideas have been tested and explored in order to fully refine the brief and maximise the most fitting design response to the site's unique opportunities and constraints. Some of these ideas have remained in some form within the final design proposals, others have been adapted or left behind for various reasons.

"At all times the driving force has been a strong synergy between the client and designers to arrive at a scheme which first and foremost embraces the highest standards in design quality."

Like the other sites, the homes will be a mixture of tenures - the houses are set to be made available for sale with the apartments being for rent.

Last year, Rotherham Council committed £50m over the next three years to build homes and have launched its Rother Living brand. By putting forward land that it owns as "go-early" sites, the council hopes to kickstart housebuilding in the town centre.

Sheffield Road baths, locally known as the "new baths" complete with statue of Rotherham-born channel swimmer, T.W. Burgess, closed in 2004.

Rother Living website

Images: RMBC / Bond Bryan

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News: ITM Power switches focus to new Sheffield site

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Energy storage and clean fuel company, ITM Power, looks to have pulled the plug on its proposed expansion to Rotherham, having instead opted for a pre-let on a new development closer to its current site in Sheffield.

Rothbiz reported last year that bosses had identified the vacant former Wincanton depot, now known as "Rotherham 125" at Maltby to enable it to bring its two Sheffield facilities together at a new multimillion pound factory in Rotherham.

Planning permission was agreed earlier this year but now the LSE-listed firm has signed a pre-let agreement to relocate its global manufacturing headquarters to a new build unit of 134,000 sq ft at PLP Bessemer Park.

The deal is the first letting on the new scheme on the former Outokumpu steel works on Shepcote Lane in Sheffield.

ITM Power manufactures integrated hydrogen energy solutions and is now targeting large scale commercial applications and needs new facilities to meet demand.

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The manufacturing facility will have an electrolyser manufacturing capacity of up to 1GW (1,000MW) per annum, the largest in the world. The agreement commits ITM Power and PLP to enter into a lease at completion of the building, expected in Q4 2019.

ITM Power expects to occupy the building from March 2020 and said that key to the selection of the building was the proximity of the grid connection to provide the substantial power supply required for ITM Power's needs, using existing infrastructure near to the location.

Dr Graham Cooley, CEO at ITM Power plc, said: "The move to larger premises and the design of our new manufacturing and testing process has taken some time. I am delighted to be able to announce this key milestone and I do so with confidence that the team has done a thorough job in selecting the right premises. The detailed planning that has taken place will pay dividends as we transition our activities to PLP Bessemer Park in the New Year."

Knight Frank, CBRE and Moriarty & Company acted as leasing agents on behalf of PLP.

CPRE acted on behalf of ITM Power plc.

The firm was set to use £400,000 from the Sheffield city region's Business Investment Fund for its expansion.

ITM Power website

Images: PLP

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Friday, July 19, 2019

News: Rotherham rail improvements in new strategic plan

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A number of proposals for improving rail services in Rotherham feature in a new strategic plan launched by the Sheffield city region (SCR), including a long-discussed new mainline station.

A 2015 study showed that rail connectivity in Rotherham is not as good as other centres and the only practical and cost effective way to enhance connectivity is to consider providing a new railway station on the mainline, costing around £14m.

A 2018 study added that new stations in Rotherham and in the Dearne Valley on a proposed "Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR)" line could boost the economic benefits from HS2.

Now a vision for how the SCR will be better connected by both high speed and conventional rail networks into the future - regionally, across the North, and nationally - includes the creation of a new Midland Main Line station in Rotherham.

Other Rotherham ambitions include:

- making the tram train service between Sheffield and Rotherham permanent
- extending the tram train network from Rotherham to Swinton, Doncaster and the airport to release capacity for NPR on the main line
- new tram train services to Waverley and other strategic housing areas such as a spur to Aston and Aughton
- a new rail station serving, businesses and communities in the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID) at Waverley
- A park and ride expansion at Parkgate
- a new tram-train station and associated park and ride facilities at Magna
- improvements at the Kiveton stations

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The plan also confirms a preferred location on a site in Goldthorpe for a proposed new Barnsley Dearne Valley railway station. This parkway station and a new mainline station are set to be progressed through NPR and not HS2. A northern spur out of Sheffield has yet to be confirmed and an upgrade and electrification would be required of the Dearne Valley Line through Rotherham for NPR/HS2.

No location has been given for a new Rotherham mainline station but it is expected to be on the edge of the town centre.

The plan states: "Rotherham has not benefited from intercity rail connectivity since the late 1980s when Masbrough station was closed. Currently, local connections to Sheffield and Doncaster are available with an hourly, hour long service to Leeds.

"Restoring the provision of fast, reliable and high quality intercity connections allied to a new station on the mainline rail network, would fundamentally transform the developable proposition of companies seeking to invest in Rotherham.

"A new mainline station in the central Rotherham area, developed with a suitable masterplan, will ensure that the area plays an important economic development role for the city region."

Dan Jarvis, mayor of the Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield Combined Authority, said: "This is a landmark moment for our region. For the first time, Government, regional partners and our local authorities have come together to welcome a vision for the future of our rail services, creating a Plan that will revolutionise rail travel for our communities."

Cllr. Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Council, added: "I cautiously welcome today's proposals, which move forward a number of significant projects for the borough that have been under consideration for a long time. A new mainline station in a central area of the borough, returning intercity connections for the first time in thirty years, would help to undo decades of damage to Rotherham's rail connectivity.

"If done correctly, it would create significant opportunities to improve access to jobs and encourage economic development. A new station to connect Waverley and the Advanced Manufacturing Park would not only relieve pressure on the local road network but also open up access to job opportunities from the south of the borough, and making permanent and extending the tram train pilot will be critical to ensure many existing journeys are not stopped as a consequence of HS2.

"We have argued throughout that any rail plan must ensure that travellers using all the existing stations in the borough would see improvements and not reductions in service. However, in relation to HS2, I want to be clear that these proposals do not change the Council's position. The so-called M18 route is not to Rotherham's advantage, it will bring years of disruption during construction, and it should be scrapped."

SCR website

Images: Google Maps / SYPTE

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News: Proposed pub plans progress in Rotherham town centre

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Work is well underway on creating new pubs and bars in Rotherham town centre, with more being planned.

One project is the conversion of Rotherham's oldest buildings back into the Three Cranes Inn. Set to open this summer, the plan is to create a traditional English pub with a core range of lagers, beers and ciders as well as craft ales and beers.

Saved as part of ambitious regeneration plans led by Chris Hamby, the listed buildings were renovated and used as an antiques centre. New plans show how the ground and first floor will be converted into a pub whilst areas such as the heritage site and museum are to remain unaltered.

A new bar, complete with Rotherham coat of arms, and bench seating is being fitted with removable external seating planned at the outside front.

The former Three Cranes Inn occupied a timber framed building dating back to the 15th Century - the only timber framed building to survive in Rotherham town centre. It was on English Heritage's "at risk register" having been in a state of disrepair for many years.

It was probably built as a merchant's town house around 1600 and an earlier wing consists of a medieval open hall block that retains evidence for a high status "coved" area at one end, known as a dais.

It is thought to have closed as a pub in 1907 and half of the building was demolished in 1953 leaving a twin-gabled fa├žade for retail units on the ground floor.

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Nearby, a unit within the historic Imperial Buildings is currently being converted into a sports bar complete with eight massive screens for showing live sports. The plan is to be open for the first game of the football next month.

A new cocktail bar is also proposed for another unit in the Imperial Buildings and new plans have recently been submitted for part of a long closed watering hole.

At Westgate, a new micropub is planned in the building that was previously known as Mondos, and prior to that, Millenium, Dickens Inn, Sports and Jakes Bar.

Since closing as a venue, the building on the site of the former Station Hotel, has had plans approved to create retail units on the ground floor with flats above.

Now plans have been submitted for creating a small pub in vacant space on the ground floor.

The change of use plans, from Nabile Tariq, state: "The flats have been implemented but the retail units and office on the ground floor has been marketed but has still not been occupied. Now the applicant has ascertained that a micro pub could present a viable business use.

"The business concept is to provide a community facility serving the neighbourhood as a traditional pub. All beer will be from local microbreweries."

A maximum capacity of 50 and opening hours of 12 noon to 11.00 pm are proposed

Three Cranes Inn Facebook page

Images: Three Cranes Inn / Google Maps

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