Friday, July 14, 2017

News: Court date with wrecking ball nears

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Work on demolishing the former Law Courts building in Rotherham is set to start next week and the adjacent "outdated" Police Station on Main Street is also being eyed up for redevelopment.

Rotherham Council acquired the former home of the Magistrates' Court, County Court and Family Court, from Her Majesty's Court and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) for £1 in March.

Following a decision by Commissioner Kenny, the option to demolish the building was delegated to the Strategic Director of Regeneration and Environment and the Council has now submitted a planning application to take down the buildings on the 1.34 acre site.

Rothbiz reported last month that the new town centre masterplan urged the authority to move quickly to assess whether the site could be used to accommodate a new theatre and arts centre.

The latest masterplan from the Council, design company WYG Group and Lambert Smith Hampton, includes the potential development that could incorporate a cafe / restaurant and creative / business space alongside a 500 seat theatre and studio theatre.

A feasibility study and business plan for the theatre is to be worked up as the Council also heads to the market in September for the related regeneration of the Forge Island site. The plan here is for a £43m leisure development anchored by a cinema and hotel.

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The masterplan also discusses the redevelopment of the South Yorkshire Police offices as part of a later phase of regeneration and the Council's "potential long term acquisition of the Police Station."

A £7m police training centre was opened at Manvers in 2010 and the custody suite at Main Street was closed last year when the force opened a new £12m centre at Shepcote Lane. By replacing inefficient custody suites in Rotherham and Sheffield with one purpose-built centre, the force should save £1.2m year.

The force's Dinnington station has closed, with its presence moved to the town's resource centre. A new shared facility with South Yorkshire Fire has been constructed in Maltby.

Regarding Main Street, the masterplan states: "At this stage, it is too early to confirm one way or the other what will happen on this site. It seems likely that the buildings are outdated in terms of modern policing requirements. From experience of other police HQ relocations, the space within the building may-well be too large and inefficient and the Town Centre location not essential for some, if not most activities undertaken there.

"The site also has clear synergy with Riverside House and Forge Island so it is sensible for RMBC to maintain continuing dialogue with South Yorkshire Police and to support them in any future review of facilities and site searches.

"Should this land become available if would be used to "support and complement" Forge Island (not change it in any way fundamentally) and could provide additional town centre homes."

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The document also discusses that "an integrated approach will be necessary and some sharing of space / facilities at Riverside House [the Council's £60m offices over the road] could be an option for some uses. Replacement facilities in more appropriate locations and built to meet modern requirements and efficiencies would be needed and RMBC could assist with site search."

There is a continuing liaison with South Yorkshire Police regarding their prospective relocation but Cllr. Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Council, said this week: "South Yorkshire Police haven't made any decision yet to move staff out of the building, so for the time being the police station continues as it is."

The old police station on Frederick Street in Rotherham town centre was demolished in 1988. The current headquarters (pictured) was built on the site of the popular funfair known as the "Stattis Fair" which ended in 1978. Previously, the current Town Hall was used as the town's police station and court house.

Images: Google Maps


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