Wednesday, February 24, 2016

News: Rotherham Interchange nearly beyond repair

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A decision on the future of Rotherham's bus station will need to be made quickly after new tests discovered that the multi storey car park is "nearing the point of being beyond economic repair."

The interchange in Rotherham town centre also includes a retail development covering 55,000 sq ft, consisting of 18 units and 750 parking spaces. It is owned by commercial property developers, Norseman Holdings, with the interchange and car park leased to South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE), the organisation that takes the lead to develop the region's transport network.

Opened in 1971, the car park has since developed widespread defects and the existing tight spaces and drab appearance mean that occupancy levels only average approximately one third of its 678 capacity.

Typical defects include extensive corrosion to imbedded steel reinforcement. As a consequence there has been spalling (breaking into fragments) in the columns, beams, up-stands, curbs and structural topping to the decks. Additionally a remedial waterproof deck had failed and steel tie-bars were corroding.

The car park requires £4m worth of repairs and plans have been approved for the detailed design of the renovation and re-cladding of the four-storey car park. However, the start date of the refurbishment was delayed following a decision to further investigate alternative development options on the site. The SYPTE, Rotherham Council and Norseman Holdings met in 2013 to discuss potential alternative development options for the site and Norseman committed to review the options of a leisure facility at the site and report back on options.

A cinema and new interchange scheme proposal was developed however the funding to deliver the scheme could not be sourced.

A proposal was also considered to totally reconfigure the layout of the bus station, from a drive through operation to a Drive in Reverse Out (DIRO) interchange.

A decision on whether to carry out the repairs or pursue a larger scale redevelopment has been delayed as the refreshed town centre masterplan takes shape.

At the end of last year, consultants at Arup undertook an inspection of the car park and identified a significant increase in the rate of deterioration of the structure.

A report to the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority Transport Committee states: "This is evidenced by the number of defective columns 1st floor increasing from 12 to 24 out of a total of 70.

"Furthermore, the waterproofing system on the roof deck has now failed and water is passing through the structure more readily which is further exacerbating the situation. Despite the increased rate of deterioration there were no immediate health and safety concerns raised, although it has been advised that the car park is nearing the point of being beyond economic repair."

Further discussions are taking place and a decision was expected this month.

The recently published draft capital strategy from Rotherham Council included an ambition to invest in "Improvements to the Transport Interchange, to address current condition and public safety issues. The aim is to create a new, brighter, safer environment and address some of the issues around CSE in and around the existing Interchange."

Images: Quadriga

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