Tuesday, April 14, 2015

News: Plans approved for Howard Building conversion

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Revised plans to convert the historic Howard Building in Rotherham town centre into self-contained studios and apartments have been approved by the planning board at Rotherham Council.

The prominent former college building was sold prior to going to auction last September after it was advertised as a development opportunity and given a guide price of £250,000 by local auctioneers, Mark Jenkinson & son.

Rotherham College of Arts and Technology (RCAT) first put the four storey, 58,000 sq ft building up for sale in 2012 with Rotherham Council acting as marketing agents.

The applicant, Avro Developments Limited sought full planning permission to change the use of the building from an education institution to residential use. The original application was for 109 dwellings however, the proposal has been amended, at the request of the council, down to 72 to increase the size of each unit to be in accordance with relevant guidance in the South Yorkshire Residential Design Guide. The scheme proposes a mix of twelve, one bed apartments and 60 studio apartments.

External work to the 1930's building is set to include replacement glazing, new windows and proposed parking spaces. Located within the Conservation Area but not listed, the "retention and sympathetic conversion are welcomed to ensure the future continued use of the property."

Approving the plans, the council has included a number of conditions including providing £204,769 for affordable housing off site and Travel Master Passes for each unit. A schedule for the future maintenance of the building and of the accommodation within it will also need to be signed off.

Buy-to-let investors are already being sought for the units within the development, given the name "Howard Residencies," with guide prices from £49,950 to £69,950.

The brochure described the development: "From dynamic apartment layouts to classic period fa├žade and stonework surrounds, Howard Residences brings together Rotherham past and present to create a truly unique place to live for post-graduates, young professionals and key workers.

"Apartments are arranged over four floors and include one bedroom and studio designs. Each unit has been carefully considered, incorporating well-thought layouts that maximise both space and style."

Avro Developments Limited is a newly established Manchester company specialising in investment schemes in secondary cities. It is also promoting a similar scheme in Halifax.

The Howard Buildings operated as part of the college and also housed the council's environmental health teams. It was deemed surplus to requirements and was vacated in September 2012. The college has gone on to invest over £15m in the improving the facilities in the town centre after securing government funding and a £5m loan from the council.

The building has an internal area of 42,000 sq ft and includes classrooms, offices, common room, library and meeting rooms. Part of the basement floor has been more recently been used as a nursery.

Avro Developments website

Images: Avro Developments

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