Wednesday, October 12, 2016

News: Redevelopment plans for former Rotherham B&Q

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A massive retail unit in Rotherham, vacated by B&Q earlier this year, could be set for redevelopment if planning permission can be secured.

The 51,000 sq ft mini-warehouse is part of the £6m Northfields Retail Park developed by Henry Boot on brownfield land close to the established Parkgate Shopping retail park.

Having only opened in 2009 after relocating from nearby Thornhill, B&Q closed in June 2016 under plans by the owner, Kingfisher plc to "transform its offer" to customers. The store at Cortonwood in Rotherham remains open.

B&Q has outsourced its closed store lease liabilities using a lease liability transaction to Surplus Property Solutions (SPS) who have been incentivised to extinguish the B&Q leases as quickly and efficiently as possible.

A planning application has now been submitted by SPS for the change of use of the building from retail to a flexible use within retail and a health and fitness club, or a car showroom.

Rothbiz also understands that a leading UK-based retail group has designs on operating a number of its brands from the location if the property can be subdivided.

Agents at Savills explain that: "The application will ensure that potential operator demand can be met, bringing vacant floorspace back in to an active and productive economic use.

"As part of the changes to the use of the floorspace, the applicant also seeks provision to extend the ranges of goods permitted to be sold from [the] floorspace."

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Outline planning permission was granted in October 2006 for a mixed use development of industrial and retail units by the Planning Inspectorate following an appeal against the non-determination of the planning application by the Council. The Planning Inspector imposed a condition so that the units could not be subdivided to create individual units of less than 929 sq m (10,000 sq ft).

Conditions on a 2007 amendment also restricted the type of goods that could be sold at the development. It read: "The retail units shall not be used to sell goods other than (a) DIY and Hardware goods, (b) Furniture and Floor Coverings, (c) Electrical goods" and explicitly said that there could be no sales of retail goods such as food, clothes, footwear, sports equipment and toys.

The applicant is hoping to reduce the number of these restrictions so that goods such as sports equipment, sports, active or outdoor wear, bicycles and cycling accessories; toys and pets and pet supplies can be sold from the former DIY store.

The applicant is also applying for a health and fitness club, which would not occupy more than 16,000 sq ft, and to enable the use of the floorspace and wider curtilige of the site for the sale and display of motor vehicles. A car showroom is only likely to come forward if there is insufficient demand from retail and gym operators.

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The 2006 conditions were imposed "to avoid the harm that might arise from attracting smaller retail units from nearby centres" and the latest application includes a retail impact assessment.

The applicants conclude that the Northfield site is the most sequentially preferable site to accommodate the proposed development having discounted a number if development sites in the town centre.

The retail impact study goes on to say that the proposed turnover of the floorspace at the proposed redevelopment is assumed to be £11.79m, an increase over the established permitted use of £3.14m. It anticipates that the highest level of impact will be experienced by the established Parkgate Shopping Park with £1.89m (55%) diverted from the nearby site. £0.34m (10%) is expected to be diverted from Rotherham town centre with 15% of the proposal's turnover diverted from other retail destinations such as the Cortonwood Retail Park, food superstores, and Meadownhall.

The conclusion is that: "The proposed development will not result in any unacceptable impacts as a result of an unsustainable level of trade diversion from any defined town centres. The proposal will principally compete with out-of-centre retail parks most notable, the Parkgate Shopping Park."

The retail warehouse unit at Northfields was purchased in 2014 by IPT Property Holdings Limited, a subsidiary of FCRE, for £10.5m.



Images: Cushman & Wakefield


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