Thursday, August 11, 2016

News: Space set to fill up at Rotherham retail park

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Two tenants are planning to take space at the Foundry Retail park in Rotherham.

Formerly known as the Great Eastern Retail Park at Parkgate, the 170,748 sq ft retail development with 813 car parking spaces is home to The Range, Harveys, DFS, Wren Kitchens and B&M.

Plans have been submitted for new mezzanine levels in two of the units that would facilitate the requirements of the business models of Rotherham-based retailer, United Carpets - that would expand across the park - and co-operative company, AHF Futniture - that would move on to the development.

Currently operating from Unit 12 on a temporary basis having moved down the road last year, United Carpets, the second largest chain of specialist retail carpet and floor covering stores in the UK, is hoping to move into the large vacant unit 5 on the park.

The plans, drawn up by Montagu Evans, state: "The proposed development involves the construction of a 678 sq m [7,000 sq ft] mezzanine in Unit 5 and a 786 sq m [8,460 sq ft] mezzanine in Unit 12. Approval of these applications will enable United Carpets to relocate to Unit 5 on a permanent lease, and Unit 12 to be occupied by AHF Furniture. The applications represents an opportunity to make better use of existing floorspace to meet the needs of two bulky goods retailers, and to intensify the use of the Park through the provision of additional floorspace within an established retail park."

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Unit 5 was previously part of a larger unit known as Unit 5/6 and occupied by Staples until it closed in 2012. It is being advertised by GVA. Unit 12 sits alongside the separate DFS unit.

The applicants argue that the installation of mezzanine floors at the location is established. With mezzanine floors, no rent of service charge is applicable for the extra space. If approved, the units would provide some 15,000 sq ft and 18,000 sq ft for the retailers.

The plans conclude: "The mezzanine floorspace requirement arises from the intention of our client to display more of their product line. Accordingly, their occupation of a unit which has stood vacant for a number of years, though temporarily leased to United Carpets, will provide Rotherham with a new bulky goods retailer that will provide additional choice and competition to consumers, and also result in economic benefits through job provision."

In its preliminary results for the year ended March 31 2015, Bramley-based United Carpets reported a 29% increase in profit before tax to £1.21m, with like for like sales up 2.7% for the year. Like for like sales increased by 2.7% with revenue for the year at £19.1m, down from £21.1m in the previous year.

Operating from retail parks and department store concessions, AHF Furniture is the UK's largest employee furniture co-op and was previously part of the Anglia Co-op. It specialises in the retail of quality home furnishings at affordable prices. With its nearest store in Mansfield, the holding company reported sales of £19.5m for the year ended March 31 2015.

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As the site is not located within a designated town, district or local centre, a sequential test assessment is included 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 applicants assessed a number of sequentially preferable locations, discounting sites for bulky goods retail such as Forge Island - earmarked for leisure development - and the vacant former NatWest Bank in the town centre - considered inflexible for a furniture store.

AHF Furniture website
United Carpets website

Images: GVA


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