Thursday, February 4, 2016

News: Frankie & Benny's plans passed

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Planning permission has been granted for a new Frankie & Benny's restaurant at a new multimillion pound retail development at Cortonwood in Rotherham.

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.

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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. After marketing the site to potential occupiers, the developers concluded that a ancillary restaurant would be highly desirable.

The proposed 3,600 sq ft unit is set to be large enough to accommodate 166 customers indoors. They typically create around 30 full time equivalent jobs.

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.

The plans have been approved with a number of conditions by officers at Rotherham Council without the need to go to the planning board.

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."

A report on the approval states: "The principle of retail development is already established and the floorspace of the proposal together with the reduction of the floorspace in other units does not result in any significant net increase. This proposal is for an A3 use (intended operator Frankie & Benny's) rather than an A1 use, however both are considered to represent town centre uses and there are not considered to [be] any new retail impact implications not previously considered."

Plans for a similar restaurant development were approved at Parkgate Shopping across Rotherham in 2012 having originally been set for refusal. Previous site owners British Land offered a £130,000 contribution to be used by the Council on a range of initiatives to improve the vitality and viability of Rotherham town centre and the plans were subsequently approved.

Helical Retail has said that terms are agreed with a number of leading fashion retailers for the site of the former colliery at Cortonwood 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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