Monday, January 4, 2016

News: Frankie & Benny's plans for Cortonwood

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Developers are set to include a new popular restaurant as part of a multimillion pound retail development in Rotherham - if plans are approved.

Plans for a 98,000 sq ft development, to be known as Cortonwood Shopping Park, were only passed on appeal at a public inquiry in 2013 after earlier being refused by Rotherham Council.

Developer Helical Retail has been working on an extension to the existing Cortonwood Retail Park and the scheme would see a current distribution warehouse demolished to make way for ten large units.

Amended a number of times, the latest plans include an application to allow the tenth stand alone unit to be used as a restaurant (A3 use), to be occupied by Frankie & Benny's.

The favourite family-run restaurant focusses on classic American-Italian style cuisine and the majority of the 250 restaurants are found within leisure and retail locations. It is one of a number of brands operated by The Restaurant Group plc which posted revenues of £635m and operating profit £80.5m in 2014.

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Drawn up by consultants, MRPP and architects, Davis Weatherill, the proposed 3,600 sq ft unit is set to be large enough to accommodate 166 customers indoors.

The plans state: "After marketing the site to operators, it has become apparent that to facilitate a suitably attractive shopping environment, and thus cater better for the needs of the shopping park's future customers, securing an ancillary restaurant is highly desirable."

The plans look to appease planning rules, and a sequential test assessment has been undertaken in line with national and local planning policies. Sequential tests ensure that development is located in the most sustainable location first (usually in town centres), before other, less sustainable locations are chosen.

The plans explain the Frankie & Benny's business model which focuses on retail and leisure destinations and adds that the restaurant "would have an ancillary role which improves the attractiveness of the Shopping Park, as opposed to acting as a destination in its own right."

Indeed, Rotherham Council approved plans for a Frankie & Benny's at Parkgate Shopping in 2012.

Helical Retail said that terms are agreed with a number of leading fashion retailers for the site of the former colliery and a start on site is anticipated in spring 2016, once funding has been obtained.

One retailer set to open on the park is Marks & Spencer, which has secured planning permission to operate a "Simply Food" store.

The developers believe that the new retail park will create between 279 and 372 jobs (equivalent to 186 full time jobs).

Frankie & Benny's website

Images: Davis Weatherill

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