Monday, September 29, 2014

News: Forge Island deal moves forward

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The cabinet at Rotherham Council has agreed to progress a deal to buy Forge Island from Tesco, an important site for the continued regeneration of the town centre.

The council has an option to buy the site for £1.5m when Tesco vacate and move across town to the site of former council buildings on Drummond Street. The new £40m Tesco Extra store has been given an opening date of November 13. The council received £7m from developers TCN for the site of the former civic buildings and library when investors signed up Tesco to a long lease.

In 2012, the council's cabinet confirmed Forge Island as the preferred site for a town centre cinema and theatre development and developers and operators where sought, but in the short term, the council is set to operate the prominent site as a car park.

Notice has already been given of the council's intent to amend traffic orders and introduce an off street car park on Forge Island, regulated by themselves, to serve as a "Free" and "Pay and Display" car park.

The plan includes a maximum of 70 spaces which will be free for up to an hour with the rest of the spaces available for two hours costing £1, four hours costing £2 and ten hours at £3.

Operating between 8am and 6pm, the planned car park will eventually result in free short stay car parking for shoppers at both ends of the town centre. The current Tesco store has around 300 parking spaces which are free to use for two hours and planners ensured that the new Tesco Extra, which is set to have 540 spaces, will provide free parking for two hours on the site for customers and non-customers.

Cabinet members discussed the options for the strategic acquisition of the site, the short term use as a car park to support nearby retailers and approval was sought to progress options for development.

The cabinet report, which has not been made public, also discussed negotiations towards redevelopment of Forge Island which may include third party involvement in the acquisition.

The recently approved strategy of the borough's local plan states that: "Forge Island is identified as part of the town centre which does not live up to its potential and is not at the heart of the town centre." It was always one of the goals of the Rotherham Renaissance initiative to see a redeveloped Forge Island act as a focal point for new cultural, entertainment and arts facilities, improved public spaces and a brighter environment.

The recent scrutiny review by borough councillors into how the council can support the local economy said that "The Council's option for purchase of Forge Island for leisure development such as a cinema/theatre should be a considered as a priority as it would enliven the night time economy and help draw in other private sector investment."

Remediation work is likely to be needed on the site which suffered significant flooding in 2007. The Development agreement which set the price at £1.5m also allows for overage to be paid to Tesco in the event of any "superprofits" being generated if the site was sold on as an investment. However this is likely to be limited given the state of the site and likely remediation costs.

At the nearby Westgate Chambers, the council has decided to sell off the asset it bought in 2006 as a strategic acquisition. Offers were due in earlier this month with the 0.33 hectare site advertised as a regeneration/development opportunity on a "predominately residential basis with an active commercial ground floor."

Images: Tom Austen

1 comments:

Anonymous,  May 19, 2015 at 12:25 PM  

who owns the site and old store now? (may 2015). I would be interested in renting the store on a short term basis.

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