Thursday, October 14, 2021

News: Muse makes progress to attract tenants to Forge Island

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Muse Developments is pushing ahead with detailed technical designs in an effort to steal a march on other schemes and tie down food & beverage (f&b) operators for Forge Island.

The Council-owned site in Rotherham town centre, which sits between the River Don and South Yorkshire Navigation Canal, will host a new leisure scheme with an 8-screen boutique style cinema, modern hotel, food and drink outlets and car parking.

Major hotel brand, Travelodge, recently exchanged a long-term deal to become an anchor tenant. This followed the news earlier in the year that boutique cinema operator, The Arc, had agreed to open its seventh site at the scheme.

To capitalise on securing the anchor tenants, Rotherham Council and Muse have agreed to accelerate detailed designs that they say will increase the attractiveness of the scheme to f&b occupiers and provides the best opportunity of securing an early start on site.

At the time of securing the approval of the planning board in 2020, developers anticipated that construction would begin in autumn 2021.

Work on the public realm by the canal and demolition work on Corporation Street has taken place so far.

The approved plans include a 40 cover café/bar area in the hotel plus a separate 2,500 sq ft restaurant unit. A separate building adjacent to the hotel is for a 5,400 sq ft restaurant and a 1,500 sq ft café is planned for an open area called "Millgate Place."

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Council papers state: "There are few schemes for occupiers to consider that are so well advanced with anchor pre-lets of an 8-screen cinema and a hotel. Further progressing the scheme, to a stage where construction is ready to start, will maximise a window of opportunity during which competition from other schemes is relatively low, locally and regionally, allowing deals to be secured at incentive/rents that are most favourable to the Council."

Papers show that, after exchanging contracts on the hotel, Muse will have spent around £750,000 to date on design and legal fees. The total estimated further cost (including a contingency allowance) to progress the next stage of detailed technical design to the point of tendering the works and awarding a construction contract is over £1m.

Muse therefore sought an agreement from the Council to allow them to proceed to incur the costs on the basis that, should the Council decide not to progress with the scheme for any reason, Muse is indemnified against its abortive costs in preparing detailed technical design - ie. Muse would be compensated.

The paper adds: "Muse has stated its commitment to continue to progress the scheme with or without an agreement to progress detailed technical design at this stage. However, without an agreement this is likely to progress at a slower pace as Muse will work to secure occupiers before committing to detailed technical design resulting in development stages progressing sequentially."

In 2019, a 250 year lease with Muse was proposed. The agreement included an option for the developer to ask the Council to take an over-riding lease of the scheme. Reducing some of the risks for the developer, this would involve the authority subletting and collecting rents from operators, which would generate an income stream to fund the head lease costs.

Detailed technical design is due to start in October 2021.

Forge Island website

Images: RMBC

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News: Reaction to restart of Rotherham steelworks

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The news that Liberty is to invest £50m into restarting steel production at its Aldwarke site in Rotherham has been welcomed and described as a "step in the right direction."

The company, part of Sanjeev Gupta's GFG Alliance, employs hundreds of staff in South Yorkshire and has struggled following the collapse of its principal lender, Greensill Capital.

In an update on restructuring and refinancing progress, GFG said that it will inject £50m of shareholder funds into Liberty Steel UK to allow time to prove the operations can run efficiently which will enable them to finalise longer term debt restructuring.

Wentworth & Dearne MP John Healey said: “This is a breakthrough after months while Liberty workers have been left in limbo. Liberty is at the heart of steelmaking in Rotherham, and we’ve been holding our breath for the working capital to restart production. But £50 million won’t be enough for long, so full long-term refinancing for Liberty UK now needs to follow rapidly from the deal for Liberty Australia. Only then, will Rotherham breathe more easily.

“It’s a year since I first met with Sanjeev Gupta on site at Rotherham to discuss Liberty’s future financing and growth. He’s proved the company can get new finance agreed with creditors for Australia, now they must do the same for the UK.

“Urgent government action is also needed to deal with the growing crisis for firms hit by the crippling rise in their energy costs. British Ministers have so far washed their hands of this growing crisis, when governments in the rest of Europe have stepped in to support their industry, even though their steelmakers have lower energy costs.”

Mayor of South Yorkshire Dan Jarvis said: "This is a welcome announcement for the steel industry and South Yorkshire, which will get operations up and running at two key sites in our region.

"Steel is a strategic sector for the UK economy and with the right support can have a bright future - providing good jobs and prosperity with the transition to green steel.

"That's why we need industry, government and trade unions to continue working together to safeguard steel's future, protecting jobs and businesses in the supply chain for the long-term."

Roy Rickhuss CBE, General Secretary of Community, the steelworkers’ union, said: “This news is well overdue, but it’s an important step in the right direction and demonstrates that GFG can raise funds for the UK. Huge challenges remain but the workforce is ready to get back to making the best steels money can buy, and the £50 million injection will enable us to restart steelmaking.

"The Government must play their part and act now to protect our industry from the consequences of soaring energy prices. Other European countries have already acted, and Britain’s steelworkers want to know why our politicians are sitting on their hands. Brexit was supposed to make it easier for the Government to back British industry and British jobs, but we’re just seeing the same old hand-wringing and excuses for doing nothing.”

Liberty website

Images: Liberty

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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

News: The Vikings are coming to Rotherham!

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An exciting new venture has targeted a former tea room in Rotherham town centre to land a Viking-themed venue, complete with drinking horns and battle axes..

The Longhouse is currently being created on the High Street in Rotherham town centre. It is from the family that has already created BattleAxe Urban Axe Throwing - Sheffield's "most" must do pre-evening leisure activity.

The sport of axe throwing has spread like wildfire over the past two decades. It is described as being like darts, ten-pin bowling or crown green bowls, but with an edge.

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The Longhouse in Rotherham is set to create a Cafe / Bar / Bistro in the former Guest's Tea Rooms, whose secret garden at the rear is destined to be invaded.

BattleAxe opened inside the Paint Factory on Rutland Road in Sheffield in 2018. Since then, the business has expanded and created a mobile setup where throwing lanes, targets and axes can be taken out to various events and festivals, even weddings. You may have seen them entertaining the crowds at the recent Rotherham Show.

"Axeperts" are on hand to teach throwers the ways of the Viking, and of course issue a safety briefing.

The Longhouse website

Images: The Longhouse / Facebook

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News: Wentworth Woodhouse celebrates completion of major roof work

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Another rainy night in Rotherham, another 180 buckets overflowing with rainwater in the steadily decaying 18th century rooms at Wentworth Woodhouse.

When the Preservation Trust took over the Grade I listed stately home in March 2017 with just six staff, emptying the buckets and mopping up was one of many backbreaking and crucial tasks.

But the buckets are now redundant and the Trust is celebrating a major milestone.

After almost two years of specialist repairs to the roof over the State Rooms, costing £5.5m, Phase 2 of the repair programme is now complete - and the majority of the Palladian-style East Front of the mansion is now water-tight.

Rainwater no longer pours in through holes in historic roofs. Ancient, overflowing guttering and drainpipes have been repaired or replaced, stone features created by artisan masons almost 250 years ago have been painstakingly restored.

Emergency roof repairs have also made endangered sections of the historic Stables and Riding School safe.

The achievements and challenges of this colossal project, which was carried out on-budget, and remained on-schedule during the pandemic, were highlighted at a celebratory event on Wednesday October 6.

Gathered in the mansion’s Long Gallery, where rows of rain buckets stood before its own roof repairs were carried out, trustees, supporters and representatives from the organisations who had played their part heard how many years of neglect have been repaired to the highest of conservation standards and the workload involved.

Phase 2 repairs began in 2019. Urgent works across the site had been carried out from August 2017 to March 2019 , and Phase 1 repairs at the Riding School and the mansion’s Bedlam Wing and Chapel ran from March 2018 to January 2020.

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The three repair projects were funded by a £7.6 million Treasury grant awarded to the Trust by Chancellor Philip Hammond in his Autumn 2016 Statement.

Before Phase 2 work could start, scaffold on an epic scale had to be designed. Once erected it encased the mansion in a shell comprised of 700 tonnes of scaffold poles towering 30 metres tall.

Then heritage craftsmen working for project contractors Robert Woodhead Ltd, with guidance and support from Historic England and architects Donald Insall Associates, began repairing roofs the size of three football pitches over the mansion’s central block and Long Gallery.

The Trust’s CEO Sarah McLeod said: “The project has been one of the most exciting and challenging heritage projects of a generation. Every single person involved has played a vital role - from the contractors through to our volunteers who led tours on our rooftops, enabling the public to watch work progressing.

She added: “We’ve had many challenges to go through. The scale of Wentworth Woodhouse and its sad state brought particular problems, which expertise and skill overcame.

“Then came the global pandemic. We overcame that too; the site was closed for just five weeks and supplies of materials were maintained.

“The project has been a triumph. The building is now protected for future generations to enjoy and the Preservation Trust can move on to other vital repair and restoration tasks.”

In January 2021, specialist conservators were also able to start essential repairs to the roof of the North Pavilion, which sits at one end of the Palladian East Front, and the North and South Quadrants.

These repairs were funded by a £811,000 lifeline grant issued during the pandemic by the government’s Culture Recovery Fund. The grant was administered by Historic England and matched with money remaining in the Phase 2 budget and grants from The Swire Charitable Trust, The Goldsmiths’ Company Charity and private donations resulting from a successful public appeal.

The six-month North Pavilion project saw the roof and its stonework, cornices and guttering repaired and key features on the tower restored.

A centuries-old 400kg weather vane was repaired and re-gilded in gold leaf.

Clock restorer Andrew Bates, of Bygone Times in Elsecar, painstakingly restored the tower clock’s mechanisms and gilded the hands. Its two large faces were replaced by Robert Woodhead Ltd.

Giles Proctor, conservation architect for Historic England, the organisation whose expertise has guided the project throughout, commented: “The work to date has been an enormous achievement, protecting the priceless interiors of the East Front and the Long Gallery from further deterioration and rescuing the Bedlam Wing from imminent ruin. “ About 55 per cent of the mansion’s roofs have been repaired, so there remains much to do, but in an astonishingly short time the Trust has secured the future of this magnificent building.”

Wentworth Woodhouse website

Images: WWPT

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Tuesday, October 12, 2021

News: Delays to bridge work results in reduced stadium capacity

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As a result of the ongoing bridge repair works on nearby Don Street, capacity at AESSEAL New York Stadium has been reduced by 1,500, until such time as the works are completed.

Fans have returned to Rotherham United games this year but before the season started, the League One club warned supporters of temporary bridge repair works on Don Street that resulted in access to the stadium from that location being restricted.

It was envisaged that there would be no pedestrian or vehicular access to the stadium via Don Street until mid-October. The flood gates at Rotherham Council's Riverside House have been opened on matchdays to allow supporters access to Don Street via the authority's car park and exit plans for high profile games needed to be redrawn using these two egress routes to ensure that segregation of fans is maintained.

An update last week said that works were now due to complete in December.

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A statement from the club said: "As a result of the ongoing bridge repair works on Don Street, Rotherham United can confirm that it has been agreed with our local Safety Advisory Group that our capacity at AESSEAL New York Stadium be reduced by 1,500, until such time as the works are completed.

"Whilst we know that this will cause some disappointment amongst our supporters, we must reaffirm that this decision has been made in the interest of the safety of everyone attending fixtures at our stadium.

"The bridge repair works on Don Street are currently projected to be finished in December this year, meaning that we will be unable to welcome supporters to the stadium’s maximum capacity of 12,008 until this period is over."

It looks like the club has now lost out on the chance to sell more tickets for the fourth v fifth clash against Sunderland on October 30, which has sold out.

Millions is due to be spent in the area relating to flood alleviation work with plans recently approved for new phases including flood defences from Ickles Lock to Centenary Way and a new canal barrier at Forge Island.

RUFC website

Images: RUFC

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