Monday, August 4, 2014

News: Public Sector Hub could bring 5,000 staff into Rotherham

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Rotherham Council is interested in the possibility of the creation of a Public Sector Hub, which could result in an additional 5,000 jobs in the town.

The idea would see public sector departments share accommodation on an office campus, helping departments and organisations save money and at the same time bringing a large amount of staff (and potential shoppers) into the town centre.

The idea was mentioned by planning inspector, Richard Hollox, in his report on Rotherham's Local Plan, the important document that includes the Core Strategy - which sets out the broad amount and distribution of future growth - and the Sites and Policies document - which sets out the detailed sites and development management policies to deliver this growth.

Declared "sound," the plan states that 235 hectares of land in Rotherham will be needed over the next 15 years to meet the broad requirements of 12 - 15,000 additional jobs. The figure includes up to five hectares for new office floorspace for 3,000 – 5,000 office jobs.

Planning regulations designed to protect the vitality of town centres include offices as a "main town centre use" and the local plan emphasises that Rotherham town centre will be the main focus for the majority of new retail, office and other town centre uses within Rotherham.

Richard Hollox, planning inspector, said in his report: "One of the objectives of the Economic Plan for Rotherham 2008 – 2020 is to secure a vibrant town centre with a high quality office market. This is a worthy ambition and should result in a greater range of employment opportunities and less commuting to, for example, Sheffield.

"Of note is the Council's interest in the possibility of a Public Sector Hub whereby public sector departments would share accommodation on an office campus. This, the Council considers, could result in an additional 5,000 jobs in the town."

In 2012, Riverside House became Rotherham's new Civic Building on the edge of the town centre on the Guest & Chrimes site. Bringing together staff from a number of locations, the £60m investment houses 2,400 employees at only 1,308 desks.
The Waverley development in Rotherham was all set to create a government office campus on land next to the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP). Helical Bar plc, Governetz Ltd and Haworth Estates worked together with the intention to provide high specification offices for government departments in response to a desire to move activities out of central London and into the regions.

Outline plans for a 60,000 sq m development, enough space for 2,000 staff, were approved but changes in government and large scale cuts meant that the plans were shelved. Harworth Estates has had discussions with senior officers at Rotherham Council regarding the potential for the site, known as Highfield Commercial, to come forward for non-employment uses (including housing, retail and hotel uses).

Images: Rotherham Council

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