Monday, July 3, 2017

News: Planning OK for B&Q revamp

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A planned redevelopment of the empty former B&Q warehouse in Rotherham can go ahead after change of use plans were approved.

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.

With agents, Surplus Property Solutions, brought in to extinguish the B&Q leases as quickly and efficiently as possible, one route to help find new tenants is to subdivide the unit and open up the potential uses that were restricted by the initial outline planning applications.

Rothbiz reported in December, that British retailing group, Sports Direct was eyeing up the site for a number of its subsidiaries - a sports store, a unit for high end fashion subsidiary, Flannels, and two speculative units with mezzanine floors.

The company's own health and fitness club business could also move to the site in a unit created by enclosing the sides of the former covered garden centre.

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Plans have now been approved by Rotherham Council that amend conditions which control how the unit is occupied and the range of goods which can be sold from the premises, despite objections.

The Council's own consultants at GVA raised issues that the ability to sell a range of goods other than DIY was "likely to pose a threat to the health of, and existing investment within, Rotherham town centre, not least due to poor state of health."

Dransfield Properties Ltd, the developer behind the Fox Valley retail development and the joint venture for a proposed £50m scheme at Waverley in Rotherham, also raised objections based on the impact on the town centre and secondary centres like Waverley that it anticipates from a proposal that "would serve to expand yet further the already dominant out of centre offer in this part of Rotherham."

Following discussions, Savills, the agents for the applicants, has made amendments to the wording of the application. It will now only enable the sale of bicycles and cycling accessories; caravans; camping and boating equipment, which were initially excluded in the 2007 plans. The primary sale of pets and pet supplies will now be permitted but from a maximum of one unit.

The approvals would seem to put pay to Sports Direct taking the units as the sale of sports equipment, clothing and footwear, would still not be permitted.

A requirement for a DIY / hardware operator to take a significant part of the unit is also being removed.

Matthew Morris, director at GVA, told the Council: "In our opinion, whilst both changes allow for a material change in the way in which the former B&Q store can be re-occupied, including the ability to provide several separate units and increase the range of goods, the range of additional goods is now reasonably limited that it will not materially increase the level of trading overlap with Rotherham town centre's comparison goods sector.

"Therefore, we have now reached the conclusion that subject to the latest condition (including some minor amendments and other controls over the retail floorspace) that the proposed development is not likely to have a significant adverse impact upon the health of, and existing investment within, Rotherham town centre. However, it will add to the weight of cumulative impact on Rotherham town centre and this will need to be taken into account when the Council considers other planning applications for retail and leisure development in the future."

Plans have also been approved for a speculative commercial development on the same site. Local developer, E V Waddington Ltd wants to build 57,000 sq ft of industrial space - two single storey, light industrial/warehouse buildings that could be subdivided into ten units, ranging in size from 4,800 to 9,000 sq ft.

Images: Cushman & Wakefield


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