Tuesday, February 14, 2017

News: Council bags Forge Island from Tesco

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Rotherham Council has finalised a land deal with Tesco for Forge Island, the key regeneration site in Rotherham town centre, and bosses hope that work on a new leisure hub will begin next year.

Currently home to an empty supermarket and a car park following the relocation of Tesco across town in 2014, it will play a major part of the town centre masterplan which is currently being drawn up by global urban design company WYG Group.

The wider development incorporating Forge Island and adjacent sites could deliver a 25,000 sq ft cinema, 20,000 sq ft hotel and 6,000 sq ft of restaurants and bars.

Damien Wilson, strategic director of regeneration and environment at Rotherham Council, said: He said: “By taking control of this important site, we now have the ability to drive-forward positive change. Forge Island is a prime location sitting between the River Don and the South Yorkshire Navigation Canal – its unique position makes it attractive to investors and visitors alike. Forge Island is central to restoring the town’s night time economy and we're looking forward to seeing it become a vibrant leisure quarter."

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Cllr. Denise Lelliott, cabinet member for jobs and the local economy at Rotherham Council, added: "We are delighted to have acquired this hugely important strategic site in the town centre and we are working with all stakeholders to bring forward its successful regeneration. We looking forward to seeing the plans to turn the island into a site the town can be proud of."

Initial plans for the site were considered last year as part of the Town Centre Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). WYG Group is now building on this and drawing together other town centre initiatives.

Andrew Clarke, project director at WYG Group, said: "The acquisition of the Forge Island site by Rotherham Council is good news indeed. This site forms a vital part in the investment masterplan currently nearing completion for the town centre. Forge Island has, for a number of years, been a visible signpost of potential yet to be realised and the time to realise the potential of this key site is now one step closer. The publication of the draft investment masterplan in the coming months will set-out proposals for this key site and how development will be delivered."

Detailed development proposals for the site are being prepared alongside the town centre masterplan with developers already showing an interest.

With the two parties exchanging contracts, a planning application for demolition submitted and contractors appointed, demolition of the former Tesco building will take place in the coming months to enhance the site's attractiveness to future developers. Temporary additional car parking will be provided at the site whilst plans are being developed.

The Council is also progressing the acquisition of Riverside Precinct and is in discussions to acquire the empty Magistrate's Court buildings. £2m has been approved from Council budgets for the acquisitions. £1.5m to fund the purchase of Forge Island has been secured via the from the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority (CA) in the form of a bridging loan.

Images: RMBC / ARUP


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