Thursday, July 20, 2017

News: Council tests waters on town centre housing

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Rotherham Council is seeking the thoughts of developers on how best to bring forward housing on "go early" town centre sites.

The recently published masterplan places a greater emphasis on town centre living and leisure, as opposed to traditional retail uses, in continuing the regeneration of Rotherham town centre.

The authority has secured £6.8m under the Government's expanding affordable housing programme and was named in the first wave of 30 local authority partnerships under the Government's £1.2 billion Starter Homes Land Fund – selected on the basis of their potential for early delivery.

Schemes worth around £40m have been identified and the sites under Council ownership on Sheffield Road - the former baths site, now used as a car park, and the now vacant Millfold House - are frontrunners for development, with the Council wanting to bring them to market in the next six months.

Having recently held its first Housing Developer Summit with a focus on the town centre, "soft market testing" is now underway, and the Council keen to hear from developers on the two specific sites where between 130 and 150 apartments and houses could be built.

The authority wants informal opinions on tenure mix, demand, pace of delivery, challenges and the best model or partnership for development. Formal tendering is likely to get underway in October.

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The masterplan states that: "New town centre residential accommodation should comprise a mixture of both apartments and traditional housing to appeal to a broader market. This would also attract more residents to the Town Centre and further contribute to securing additional footfall which would provide a further boost to Rotherham.

"The high priority site for the partnership is the former swimming baths site at Sheffield Road, which is a key market-creating site. It is envisaged in the masterplan as mainly contemporary distinctive high density urban housing."

The brief adds that: "These homes will be a catalyst for future development and must set the right tone and attract people to want to buy into Rotherham's vision for the town centre. Inspiration has been drawn from key developments at Sheffield's Kelham Island which combine modern design with preservation of the area's industrial heritage."

The Council has been developing proposals to kickstart housing construction in the town centre where financial viability is an issue for the private sector due to site constraints and values. Consultation with estate agents and developers has shown a strong appetite for new homes in the town centre where transport connections are being improved with the addition of tram-train services.

12 sites in the town centre have been identified that could deliver 1,000 homes in the next few years. Further work has narrowed this down to six sites and 400 homes. Other sites include two sites on the riverside opposite Forge Island, the former Henley's garage site on Wellgate, and on the remaining land at Doncaster Gate where work on the new £13m university campus is getting underway.

On financing the developments, the masterplan adds: "Potential investors have indicated funds in-excess-of £20m could be directed to Rotherham in terms of patient finance to create the residential market. This would align with the scale of the opportunity envisaged by the masterplan.

"The Council's starter homes programme has also secured potential long term loan-based investment of the same order. With success, the scale of development will increase. Other private investment in new homes could easily reach that level also."



Images: RMBC / WYG / Google Maps


1 comments:

Mr me July 20, 2017 at 1:53 PM  

Build houses in.town.centre and all youll get is the usual scum renting em.High quality apartments shpuld be built in town centres not house,and as appartments are high rise ,you get more units.Rotherham council useless as usual!

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