Thursday, October 19, 2017

News: £50m Rotherham retail mixed-use development set for planning OK

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Plans for a £50m retail, office and leisure scheme at Waverley in Rotherham are being recommended for approval by local authority planning officers.

Land owners and developers, Harworth Group plc established a joint venture company, Waverley Square Limited, with Dransfield Properties, the Barnsley-based company that specialises in retail led regeneration schemes, to bring forward the "the piece of the jigsaw" between the residential and commercial developments at the regeneration site on the former Orgreave coking works.

An application was submitted earlier this year detailing some 100,000 sq ft of retail space including a 20,774 sq ft foodstore; high spec office space covering 38,285 sq ft; restaurants, coffee shops and a gym; a medical and community facility covering 11,464 sq ft; and a small bus station.

The application is set to go before the planning board at Rotherham Council next week with officers recommending that members approve the 12 acre scheme. It will also need to be referred to the Secretary of State's National Planning Casework Unit for a final sign off.

With the expertise of Dransfield, the scheme has been designed and updated to create a lively, mixed scheme including food and non-food retail, alongside food and drink outlets, offices and leisure uses.

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Revisions include replacing the hotel with office space, relocating the proposed 20,000 sq ft foodstore to the other side of the courtyard, and the inclusion of a pedestrian bridge and rooftop space.

The development is Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) liable.

A number of objections have been received with some residents raising concerns over traffic, parking and operating hours. Support has been received from local MPs and occupiers of the nearby Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) such as Rolls-Royce who said that the plans are of a "necessary scale and ambition to match the quality of existing occupiers at the AMP and will create a vibrant heart to the wider development that Rotherham and the wider Sheffield City Region can be proud of."

The application states that the development could create 700 full-time equivalent jobs and generate business rates in the region of approximately £1.5m once fully occupied.

Having been satisfied over the potential negative impact by transport and environmental health officers, the planning report states: "Having assessed the principle of development it is necessary to consider it as part of the overall planning balance. A number of benefits would result from the proposed development, including the creation of jobs and the provision of community facilities which include a health and community centre, bus station and food and drink provision. These are important community benefits that will aid in the continued sustainable development of the Waverley New Community and adjacent AMP.

"The other benefits of the proposed development include the regeneration of this previously undeveloped site to the benefit of the self-sufficiency of the new community and surrounding areas, the provision of permanent jobs and benefit to the local economy; the provision of leisure and recreation facilities and connection of the centre with the AMP via the new pedestrian links across Highfield Spring, which include the provision of a new signalised pedestrian crossing, bridge into the proposed development and access ramp on Waverley Walk."

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A submitted sequential test rules out sites earmarked for other uses such as Forge Island and vacant town centre units that are too small. The Waverley scheme is also not expected to impact on potential investment in the town centre coming out of the new masterplan.

An impact assessment recognises that the scheme will draw trade from some existing centres including Rotherham town centre but adds that the level of trade division and impact is considered to be within acceptable levels and would not be classed as "significant adverse" against national planning policy terms. It is expected that the new retail offering will prevent Rotherham spend leaking into Sheffield.

It means that controls are proposed over the gross retail floorspace, net comparison goods floorspace, along with a restriction over the range of comparison goods to be sold. There will be a limit on the A1 retail space and how much floorspace can be used for the sale of clothing and footwear and toys and games for example.
The planning report concludes: "The impact of the Waverley development obviously needs to be seen in the context of the wider cumulative impacts of committed and proposed retail developments in the local area. There are further retail developments which will add to the growing impact upon the health of Rotherham town centre, which is of significant concern, but after further consideration, it is considered that a suitably controlled development can avoid the claim that it is likely to have a significant adverse impact on Rotherham town centre.

"When these benefits are weighed against the impact of the proposal on the town centre, a balance has to be struck."

Harworth Group website
Dransfield Properties website

Images: UKSE

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