Thursday, September 14, 2017

News: £300m Meadowhall extension approved by Sheffield planning board

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Councillors on the planning board of Sheffield Council have unanimously voted in favour of the new 330,000 sq ft Leisure Hall development at Meadowhall. The negative impact on retail centres such as Sheffield city centre and Rotherham town centre was not considered to be "significantly adverse."

The plans are for a 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. Some retail space is proposed as a transition between the new and existing sections of the centre.

The board met this week and were recommended to approve the plans by council planners following amendments which saw a proposed food store element removed from the scheme.

Charles Maudsley, head of retail, leisure and residential for British Land (the applicants and co owners of Meadowhall), said: "We are delighted with the Planning Committee’s decision and will now work with our partners and other stakeholders over the coming months on the detail of the Leisure Hall to ensure Meadowhall delivers the maximum benefits for customers, retailers and the wider Sheffield city region.

"The refurbishment completing later this year, our continued leasing success, significant store investment by retailers and the Leisure Hall proposals are all significant steps in the centre's continued evolution."

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

Studies show that £1.2m (0.7%) of the turnover in Rotherham town centre at 2021 is expected to be diverted to the new Meadowhall development. The applicants argued that Rotherham's Council's comparison of the the core offers of its town centre and Meadowhall was "a simplistic approach [that] fails to recognise the fundamentally different retail offer of both destinations."

Analysts at GVA gave predictions on the draw of the new leisure hall. It said that, at present, only 25% of Meadowhall food and beverage turnover comes from residents of the Sheffield urban area. 75% comes from residents of Rotherham (51%), Barnsley (8%) and the area to the south-east of Sheffield and area between Sheffield and Rotherham. The applicants hope that the offer will become more popular to residents of Sheffield whilst also continuing to attract a large amount of trade from Rotherham and Barnsley.

Rotherham planners are also concerned for the proposed £43m leisure development at Forge Island which is set to be anchored by a cinema and hotel alongside food and beverage units. British Land argued that investor confidence in the Forge Island plans is not likely to be undermined by the new leisure hall given that a cinema already exists at Meadowhall and a hotel is proposed for Rotherham.

The commercial agents for British Land suggest that the likely interest in Forge Island from food and drink operators will be from the fast/contemporary casual national brands, some of which are already trading at Meadowhall (within the Oasis). Frankie and Benny's, Chiquitos, Coast to Coast, Nando's and Harvester are given as examples. The anticipated tenant lineup at the new leisure hall is "aligned to a more mature scheme, with the brands being more aspirational and varied food offers."

Planners at Sheffield Council were 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."

The report to the planning board concluded that: "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."

The applicants, Sheffield Council and Highways England have been working on conditions for the approval based on British Land committing to significant improvements to the road network, especially at Junction 34 of the M1.

Future Meadowhall website

Images: British Land


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