Friday, October 6, 2017

News: Laying the foundations for new Rotherham town centre housing

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Proposals for new housing in Rotherham town centre are moving ahead despite the £32m "investment" via the Government turning out to be a loan rather than a grant.

The recently adopted Rotherham town centre masterplan places a greater emphasis on town centre living and leisure, as opposed to traditional retail uses, in continuing the regeneration of Rotherham town centre.

The Council is set to use land that it owns as "go-early" sites to kickstart housebuilding and is set to act as "the strategic housing enabler" to develop Sheffield Road car park, Millfold House and the former Henley's garage on Wellgate into residential accommodation.

Rothbiz reported in January that the first of a potential 2,000 new homes in the town centre had secured backing from the Government's £1.2 billion Starter Homes Land Fund.

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), the public housing body sponsored by the Government, agreed to support Rotherham's bid for Starter Homes funding and announced that it would invest up to £32m in Rotherham. However, through subsequent discussions between the Council and agencies it became clear that this investment would take the form of a recoverable loan / equity share investment, rather than grant funding.

With potential problems over borrowing rates and risk, the Council has now decided not to put forward the three town centre sites for Starter Homes funding.

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A report to the next Cabinet and Commissioners' Decision Making Meeting explains: "While the Council has welcomed the confidence shown by the HCA and will still explore options to deliver Starter Homes on various sites around Rotherham, the three "go early" sites identified in the bid are no longer earmarked as "Starter Homes sites" and alternative routes to development have been explored."

At the site of the former swimming baths on Sheffield Road, and the nearby, now vacant, premises at Millfold House, around "130 aspirational, high design quality homes for open market sale and private rent" could be built in the riverside location.

The Council report states that there has been extensive interest in these sites from private developers and potential investors following a marketing exercise over the summer. With backing from councillors and commissioners, the authority hopes to acquire some adjacent land and then procure a construction partner for the development whilst keeping hold of the land.

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On the long-vacant Henley's Garage site of a former garage and car showroom on Wellgate, planning permission has previously been granted for 180 apartments. The development stalled when the developer was taken over and a 0.65 hectare site is now owned by the Council.

The Council sees this as an ideal location for the development of homes available for first time buyers and older people wishing to downsize, into shared ownership or rent to buy tenures. The site could deliver 53 units - a mix of houses and apartments.
The report concludes: "Until recently there had been limited developer appetite to building [in] the town centre due to viability issues, however there are strong signs of increasing interest as shown by the positive response to the soft market testing exercise, and the recent submission of planning applications for two key privately owned sites: Westgate Chambers and the burnt out buildings on Corporation Street. It is important that the Council takes the opportunity to stimulate further private sector confidence by developing on its own assets."

A Rotherham Housing Developer Summit is taking place on October 11 at Rotherham United's AESSEAL New York Stadium. Organised by the Council, developers are invited to find out about the latest development opportunities in Rotherham including the town centre.

Images: RMBC / WYG / Google Maps


1 comments:

Mr me October 6, 2017 at 12:26 PM  

Housing on the Henley site!Mmmm,can see what sort of residents will occupy that area.ROTHERHAM JOKE

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