Tuesday, May 9, 2017

News: Plans in for £50m retail development

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Plans for the £50m 12-acre retail, office and leisure development at Waverley in Rotherham have been submitted.

Rothbiz revealed last year that developers, Harworth Group plc had appointed Dransfield Properties, the Barnsley-based company that specialises in retail led regeneration schemes, as a development partner for "the piece of the jigsaw" between the residential and commercial developments at its Waverley regeneration site.

Now a planning application has been submitted for a mixed use centre on vacant brownfield land, previously known as Highfield Commercial, between the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) and the housing developments, and in between the AMRC Training Centre and the Winter Green pub.

A joint venture company, Waverley Square Limited, has been created to bring forward the development that echoes the Dransfield scheme at nearby Fox Valley at Stocksbridge.

The application, drawn up by Barton Wilmore, shows some 100,000 sq ft of retail space including a 20,774 sq ft foodstore; high spec office space covering 38,285 sq ft; restaurants, coffee shops and a gym; a medical and community facility covering 11,464 sq ft; and a small bus station.

Fox Valley has secured lettings from a mix of national and independent retailers including Aldi, Card Factory, M&Co, NEXT and Sanderson's Boutique.

The main changes from the plans that went out to public consultation last year are that the five-storey hotel has been omitted and replaced by office space.

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Details of the landscaping and public realm are also included in the proposals, which also includes a car park with 484 customer spaces as well as a 93 space staff car park. A new access road to the site is also proposed from Highfield Spring connecting with Stephenson Way.

The application states that the development could create 700 full-time equivalent jobs and generate business rates in the region of approximately £1.5m once fully occupied.

The retail uses are set to include a medium sized discount foodstore alongside convenience and comparison goods retail shops, hairdressers, beauty salons, and other retail services. The employment and financial services could include offices and uses such as banks, building societies and estate agents. The leisure/health facilities is likely to cover a gymn, health and well-being centre and associated pharmacy.

With the scheme arranged in a courtyard formation, the applicant also intends to seek consent in the future for an outdoor farmer's market area (similar to that which already take place at the Fox Valley scheme).
As well as meeting the needs of the growing residential and business community, a high quality, a local centre will also serve the needs of the emerging Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID) where the aim is to develop Europe's largest research-led advanced manufacturing cluster. It will also be encouraged to "act as a draw across the wider area and provide the much needed facilities to ensure the area works as a viable, vibrant and dynamic housing / employment community."

As the retail and property market has changed since the initial outline application for the massive Waverley development was approved in 2010, work by the land-owners and developers, Harworth Group has led to changes to the plans for the mixed use aspects of the new community that is being created on the site of the former Orgreave coking works.

It means that the "Waverley Square" local centre/mixed uses permitted under the outline consent is being relocated and a viable scheme is now coming forward. A future local centre development at Waverley Waterside is now intended to be secondary to the proposed main mixed use centre within Highfield Commercial.

An unresolved objection exists relating to the floorspace cap for the site through the changes in the Borough's Local Plan. The developers would like to see a larger scheme and the Council appear happy, so long as national planning guidance covering sequential tests and impact on other centres, is addressed.

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The application states: "It has not proven possible to bring forward a small scale scheme at the Application Site in the circumstances where the operator demand is not present to support it, and the retail market is not healthy enough to build compromised space speculatively. The range and scale of uses proposed has been formulated such that, like Fox Valley, a successful mixed used place can be created at the centre of the growing Waverley community and the AMID.

"The views of various retailers have been sought by Dransfield Properties in respect of occupier requirements and the types and mix of retailers envisaged for the scheme will not be dissimilar to that at Fox Valley.

"The centre is to make provision for a range of shops, services, employment, leisure, health and community facilities that will serve the needs of Wvaerley, the AMP and the wider AMID within the immediately surrounding area, without undermining the vitality and viability of nearby higher order centres or compete with Sheffield City Centre or Rotherham Town Centre."

An impact assessment recognises that the scheme will draw trade from some existing centres including Rotherham town centre but adds that the level of trade division and impact is considered to be within acceptable levels and would not be classed as "significant adverse" against national planning policy terms. It is expected that the new retail offering will prevent Rotherham spend leaking into Sheffield.

Trade diversion away from Rotherham town centre is likely to be in the region of between £1.6m (1.2% impact) and £3m (2.2%) for comparison goods. The out of centre sites at Meadowhall (between £4.4m (0.5% ) and £8.2m (0.9%)) and Parkagte (between £4.0m (1.6%) and £7.5m (3.1%)) are likely to see more trade diverted to the new scheme.

For convenience goods, the nearby Morrison's supermarket at Catcliffe and Asda at Handsworth are likely to feel the biggest impact.

A submitted sequential test rules out sites earmarked for other uses such as Forge Island and vacant town centre units that are far too small. The Waverley scheme is also not expected to impact on potential investment in the town centre coming out of the new masterplan.

The application adds: "The proposed development aims to be the best designed centre within Rotherham, meeting and exceeding the place making objectives of the development plan and Waverley New Community and Highfield Commercial masterplans.

"Unlike many out of centre proposals, the proposed new centre development will encourage sustainable patterns of shopping and service usage via the provision of local facilities within the heart of a sustainable new community, which can be accessed via sustainable transport modes."

Harworth Group website
Dransfield Properties website

Images: Harworth / Dransfield / ADS Ltd


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