Thursday, July 6, 2017

News: Options for Rotherham riverside redevelopment

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Two options are being discussed for the riverside sites along Corporation Street in Rotherham town centre, both including the demolition of some of the current commercial properties.

Corporation Street is set to play an important role in the redevelopment of Rotherham town centre, linking as it does, the proposed leisure hub on Forge Island, and the revamped bus station, with the Minster and the rest of the town.

Launched last month, the town centre masterplan set out key sites and catalyst projects that will bring more people to live, visit and work in the town. From now until 2020, it is envisaged that anything between £130m and 160m will be invested in the area.

Corporation Street has suffered a decline in footfall since Tesco relocated to a new £40m store in 2014. In addition, two burnt out buildings, a former restaurant and adjacent night club, create a very poor impression of the town and undermine confidence in the town centre.

The masterplan sets out a number of proposals for this area to complement the plans for Forge Island.

The Council has already acquired, and cleared, the site of the former Tesco store, and is progressing plans to acquire the remaining leasehold interests at the Riverside Precinct.

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A key objective of the masterplan, developed by Design Company WYG Group and Lambert Smith Hampton, is to integrate the waterside back into the heart of the town.

On the eastern riverbank, the masterplan discusses two options - a mixed use development incorporating new and current buildings or clearing the buildings to create a larger riverside park.

The mixed use development outlines:

- Redeveloping Riverside Precinct where uses include in excess of 60 apartments, retail, food and drink and where the development "frames views of Rotherham Minster"
- Retained businesses on Corporation Street (such as Costa and the Ring Shop) with improved routes through from Minster Gardens to riverside. New apartments here address the riverside
- Refurbishment and extension of existing vacant NatWest building to create new restaurant and bar overlooking the River Don and the Forge Island
- Residential apartment development in excess of 60 apartments on the Council's Riverside Car Park site

Regarding the Eastern riverbank and Corporation Street area, the masterplan states: "The Council will use its land ownership to work with existing landowners in a positive fashion to deliver the desired development. The existing private land owners will need to play a role in realising the vision for this area.

"Preliminary discussions with [commercial property consultancy] LSH have been encouraging and now detailed discussions are necessary.

"Meetings with existing landowners are a priority to gauge their appetite to help deliver the development vision in this area. Also their capacity for the same and how public sector support and land may assist. The aim will be to quickly ascertain the capacity and interest of existing land owners to invest and develop. Initial consultations suggest an interest to develop."

The intention is to promote development together using council land and private land to realise the masterplan vision. Some form of joint venture is envisaged, but if this does not prove possible CPO may be necessary to assemble the site for development.

The more transformational development opportunity involves relocating the proposed residential, retail and food and drink uses into the main development at Forge Island. This would lead to the demolition of many of the buildings on Corporation Street and the Riverside in order to create a larger riverside park linking with Minster Gardens.

The masterplan states: "This option has been drawn-up and illustrated and one benefit is the striking vista this would create of Rotherham Minster from Forge Island. This would involve the demolition of buildings within the Town Centre Conservation Area and Historic England have expressed their reservations about this option.

"This bolder option would only work if it was agreeable to the existing landowners and there are no plans for compulsory purchase in this area to facilitate this approach. Given the delivery risk associated with this option it has not been embedded within the draft masterplan. However, as dialogue takes place with existing landowners as envisaged for this area it will be appropriate to share with them the more radical plans to ascertain their feedback.

"If landowners are not amenable then the plans which retain them in-situ will be progressed. Meetings to ascertain the route to delivery in this area should be progressed as a next step. Following this the Council will refine its approach to the Eastern Riverbank (for the final draft masterplan) and progress work accordingly to deliver the vision."

Images: RMBC / WYG


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