Tuesday, September 22, 2015

News: Bassingthorpe Farm heading to market

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Landowners are preparing to bring the large area of former Green Belt land at the Bassingthorpe Farm site in Rotherham to the market in the hope of securing a leading developer.

As part of the Local Plan core strategy that was adopted by the Council last year, the 215 hectare area close to Rotherham town centre has been removed from the Green Belt and designated as a Strategic Allocation and the main location for new housing, employment and retail growth. 2,400 dwellings could be joined by 11 hectares for employment use.

Rotherham Council has been leading on the proposals for a number of years, and is working collaboratively with major landowner, Fitzwilliam (Wentworth) Estates, on how to bring forward the project to create "sustainable communities on the edge of Rotherham Urban Area within a green infrastructure that enables connectivity and integration of new development with existing communities." It is also set to provide strong and convenient connections to services and be of "a high quality design that responds sensitively and positively to the historic and natural landscape, the built form and topography."

The Council is currently working towards marketing the Bassingthorpe Farm development jointly with Fitzwilliam (Wentworth) Estates and is looking to engage "a promoter who could bring skills, financial resources and knowledge to the partnership to facilitate delivery."

With Bassingthorpe promoted from a broad location for growth to a strategic allocation in the core strategy, the site can come forward before other sites in the borough. Around 57 hectares (26%) of the site is under Rotherham Council's ownership.

Experts at Signet Planning have already undertaken an Urban Design Analysis and produced illustrative concept masterplan drawings. The next step is for the Council to commission consultants to carry out transport modelling and design work. This would project the impact of the development on key junctions which would then help in the development of junction designs and cost estimates.

Costing £12,500, funding for this work has been identified from the Planning Home and Communities Agency capacity funding.

With the potential for around 100 new houses to be built each year, one major hurdle to overcome is the viability of the whole development, with consultants, DTZ, estimating previously that the infrastructure needed to bring forward houses, associated retail and employment uses would cost over £50m. This includes £10m for strategic infrastructure, £5m for drainage, £4m for improving the road infrastructure, £8m for education including a new primary school, £2m for a new doctor's surgery and £1.6m for a new fire station. The costs to develop the whole project have been estimated at £365m.

Planning reports submitted as part of the consultation on the Local Plan showed that work on the development could start as early as 2016.

The next stage in the consultation is on the Sites and Policies document during Autumn 2015 focusing on issues of soundness and legal compliance prior to the document being submitted to Government for independent examination.

Images: RMBC / Bassingthorpe

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