Wednesday, November 4, 2015

News: Bellows Road redevelopment back on track

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Legal issues that have stalled a £10m Rotherham redevelopment scheme look to have been resolved, meaning that work can begin to complete the long-awaited scheme at Bellows Road.

The regeneration of the former shopping centre in Rawmarsh has long been on the cards after years of structural defects and underutilisation. Rotherham Council decided to use its compulsory purchase powers in 2009 with a view to redeveloping the shopping centre.

Outline planning approval was granted in 2009 for a mixed-use development of retail and housing on the site but developers ROK went into administration shortly after.

Plans for the first phase of retail progressed in cooperation with new council partners, Caddick Developments, and work began on five new units covering approximately 8,500 sq ft in 2013. Tenants include Tesco, Heron Foods, The Post Office and Vantage Chemist.

Rotherham Council has since been working to demolish the current Bellows Road centre in preparation for a residential development. Outline plans included 58 residential units and could have used Ikea-designed BoKlok houses and flats to create affordable properties. The housing phase of the development had been allocated over £4m from the Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder but this national fund was withdrawn by the coalition government.

Demolition stopped because phone companies EE and Hutchinson had failed to agree to their phone masts being relocated from the centre. Rotherham Council has made several attempts over the last year to get things moving – including threatening a compulsory purchase order, and local councillors and John Healey MP launched a campaign and petition to get the three masts removed from the site.

Now legal documents have been signed and work can begin on the new mast on nearby Barbers Avenue. After this, the masts on the shopping centre will be taken down and demolition and redevelopment is expected to restart in January 2016.

Cllr. Simon Evans, ward councillor for Rawmarsh, said: "I am pleased to see the phone companies have finally done the right thing and stopped dragging their feet.

"It angers me that these companies miles away were able to halt such an important regeneration project in Rawmarsh."

John Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne, added: "I've been involved with the Bellows Road project for several years, and helped residents and councillors overcome a number of obstacles in that time.

"I was concerned to hear about another delay so I'm glad the phone companies have bowed to pressure from us and the council, and that work will start again soon.

"We want this development to go ahead to bring new jobs and housing to Rawmarsh."

Caddick Developments website

Images: Caddick

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