Thursday, November 5, 2015

News: Royal Mail stamps its feet

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Royal Mail has no plans to close or relocate its sorting office in Rotherham town centre even though it has been earmarked as a key regeneration site.

On the site of the former Westgate station, the sorting office and wider area has a long planning history with owners, Satnam Urban Regeneration putting forward plans for a food store to rival those being put forward for Tesco. A long running legal battle with the Council came to an end in 2009.

The Main Street and Sheffield Road site has been seen as key to realising the Rotherham Renaissance objective to make the most of the adjacent River Don but plans have stalled since the global recession despite the developments of new civic offices and Rotherham United's stadium on the nearby Guest & Chrimes site.

As the Council finalises its local plan, the final draft of the borough's Sites and Policies document has the site earmarked for a mix of uses. The plans state: "The area remains suitable for a mix of uses, however it is considered appropriate to define land between the River Don and Sheffield Road / Westgate separately given its riverside location. The area is considered to be suitable for B1 office and hotel uses given its proximity to Rotherham town centre and public transport interchanges. Housing is also considered suitable in view of the Council's aspiration to increase urban living close to the town centre. It is also considered suitable for non-residential institution and assembly and leisure uses given its location, existing uses and proximity to Rotherham town centre."

However, the plans add that whilst it should remain as mixed use, the land should only be proposed as a residential development site. The site is allocated an indicative number of 143 homes to be delivered between 2021 and 2026.

In 2011 Satnam Urban Regeneration Limited continued to push for the land that they own on Westgate to be earmarked for retail development (food and non-food).

In response to latest site allocation, the Royal Mail Group has instructed consultants at Cushman & Wakefield to put forward its views. It said: "The delivery office operates antisocial hours and generates noise through vehicle movements and loading operations which could impact on the amenity of nearby residential occupiers. If new housing is permitted it will be essential that the local authority requires and enforces measures to satisfactorily mitigate the impact of noise within the development without detriment to Royal Mail's operations or business, in order for the plan to be considered effective.

"It should be noted that at present, the above site is operational and Royal Mail currently have no plans to close or relocate it. Should the site come forward as a redevelopment site, then it is essential that as the site is operational, the policies and/or supporting text to the inclusion of the site explicitly states that the re-provision / relocation of Royal Mail's operations will be required prior to redevelopment."

It adds that any relocation would need to be "commercially attractive" to Royal Mail and that the proceeds of the disposal of the site will need to yield sufficient value to fund the purchase and fit-out of a new site.

Royal Mail Group's express parcels business, Parcelforce Worldwide, opened its new depot in Rotherham at the end of 2013. The operation relocated across Rotherham to a massive 152,421 sq ft unit at Magna 34 at Templeborough.

Images: Google

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