Tuesday, September 5, 2017

News: Meadowhall leisure expansion recommended for approval

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A proposed £300m leisure hall at Meadowhall that will negatively affect Rotherham town centre is being recommended for approval by planners at Sheffield Council.

Members of the planning board are set to discuss the proposals next week and are being recommended to approve the plans subject to a number of conditions.

The initial plan comprised a 330,000 sq ft multi-level extension housed under a glazed roof on land currently used for car parking. Plans show leisure space to provide a range of other uses to meet the needs of a wide family group, including a new cinema (the existing Vue Cinema will close, and be changed to an alternative leisure use) plus space for food and drink outlets. A new foodstore and added retail units were also planned.

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Applicants, British Land, insist that the development will not have any unacceptable trading effects on Rotherham town centre or cause any significant adverse impact on planned investment.

Rotherham Council has objected to the plans, stating that it would have a "significant adverse impact upon the vitality and viability of Rotherham town centre."

The plans were amended with the food store element removed and restrictions to be put in place to limit the new retail space and the conversion of previous leisure space. Significant transport investments are also tied to the scheme gaining planning approval.

Studies show the new development having a potential impact of 0.7% up to £1.2m by 2021 which represents less than 8% of the forecast increase in turnover of Rotherham town centre between 2016 and 2021 (£15.3m). The applicants point out that post development, the retail turnover of the town centre will increase over the next five years. They also say that Meadowhall and Rotherham have a different retail offer with Rotherham's offer focused on the lower end of the retail spectrum and there being little overlap in the clothing and footwear sector.

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Rotherham planners are also concerned for the proposed £43m leisure development at Forge Island which is to be anchored by a cinema and hotel alongside food and beverage units.

Concerns have been raised that some food and drink operators may prefer Meadowhall over Rotherham and not have the confidence to invest in Forge Island. Rotherham Council, which owns the site believes that a critical mass of food and drink uses is needed in order to ensure the viability of the Forge Island development and unless food and drink operators are attracted, the cinema will not be attracted.

British Land argues that food and drink market at Forge Island will be generated by the other uses on the site and that a cinema will support restaurant uses supplemented by the hotel, adding that neither of which are likely to be undermined by the new leisure hall at Meadowhall. They also argue that the food and drink markets for the two sites will be different. They say the interest in Forge Island is more likely to be the fast/contemporary casual and national brands whilst the leisure hall will be attractive to the more aspirational and varied food offer aligned with Meadowhall customer profile.

Planners at Sheffield Council are in agreement with British Land and also agree that the proposal will "undoubtedly have a negative impact on Rotherham's town centre which is already in a fragile state."

A report to the planning board states: "Given its poor starting position a small impact is likely to be more critical. The poor state of health of the existing centre is a consequence of development already permitted at Meadowhall and Parkgate Retail Park, the effects of which will already have been felt. Given this, the relatively small impact of the proposal, and the different retail offer of the two centres, it is judged that the level of impact on Rotherham town centre is not sufficient to be considered to be significantly adverse which is the planning test for refusing permission."

Future Meadowhall website

Images: British Land


2 comments:

Mr me September 5, 2017 at 12:35 PM  

One word to RMBC OBJECT !

Anonymous,  September 5, 2017 at 3:50 PM  

So in summary, none of this will damage Rotherham because you cannot compare Meadowhall's fine boutiques, designer shops and fine dining to Rotherham's 'low end' shops and fast food joints.

and the last paragraph....

"Rotherham town centre has been damaged so much already by past out of town planning permissions, there is not much more left to damage. Threfore we may as well let it go ahead".

RMBC will not object to this, but if we ever get to planning permission stage with Forge island, Sheffield will object of course and then argue this is like for like competition after all with Meadowhall and Centertainment.

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