Wednesday, May 9, 2018

News: Rotherham regeneration projects on standby for funding

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Two regeneration projects in Rotherham are waiting in the wings to mop up capital funds that are at risk of being returned to central Government if they are not spent quickly in the Sheffield city region.

An extension to RiDO's Century Business Centre and further infrastructure work around the Bassingthorpe Farm development are hoping to secure millions of pounds.

Rothbiz has previously reported on the risks encountered by the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority (CA) and its large scale investment programme that is backed by the Government's Local Growth Fund (LGF).

Infrastructure projects such as the Superfast South Yorkshire broadband scheme and the BRT North transport scheme have used funding from the six year, £360m pot but with projects that have underspent or where spend has slipped into later years, the programme was opened up to ensure that the Sheffield city region spends all of its growth funding.

A paper to the CA explains: "The previous two financial years (16/17 and 17/18) has been beset with programme slippage in both the development and delivery phase. The lack of accurate information has presented considerable difficulties in forecasting accurately when spend and outputs will be delivered, and has made accurate LEP reporting to government challenging.

"Resource intensive mitigations have had to be implemented in each of the previous two years to ensure no loss of LGF to the City Region. The challenge for the final three years of the programme however is delivery of schemes in order to achieve the outputs and outcomes the LEP agreed as part of the growth deal."

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If any proposals experience delays like in previous years then achieving the spend target will be partly reliant on any new projects being able to develop quickly and deliver expenditure this financial year.

A review of current projects is underway and a pipeline of reserve projects has been whittled down to six from 55. Totalling £10.7m, the six projects are considered to have a strong fit with LGF and are recommended to proceed to Full Business Case.

A £1.6m grant is being sought for a £3.2m project to build a second phase at Century Business Centre at Manvers. Designed for small and new start business, the centre currently offers a range of office and workshop units and since opening in 2000 has been home to hundreds of businesses.

The centre, owned and managed by Rotherham Investment & Development Office (RiDO), the regeneration arm of Rotherham Council, was originally developed to help local people in the Manvers area of the Dearne Valley to set up their own businesses following the decline of traditional industries.

The success at Century led the Council to expand the provision for small business incubator premises, and RiDO now has four centres, located across the Borough at Moorgate Crofts, Templeborough and Dinnington providing over 200 office and workshop units. A potential new incubation centre, possibly in Hellaby/Maltby, was mentioned in the borough's revised Growth Plan.

A £3.3m grant is being sought to support the Bassingthorpe Farm development where Rotherham Council is working with the other landowner to attract commercial partners to help bring forward 2,400 dwellings and 11 hectares for employment use.

Previous work has shown estimated delivery costs of over £350m for the project with the infrastructure needed to bring forward houses, associated retail and employment uses estimated at over £50m. Work to improve the nearby road network is underway including a £4.63m scheme to improve capacity on College Road roundabout on the edge of Rotherham town centre.

The LGF bid relates to "Mitigation Measures - Greasbrough Corridor." Greasbrough Public Hall was recently demolished by the authority as it highlighted that the site was required to facilitate a highway improvement scheme at the junction that fronts the hall.

The Council has been bidding to secure Government funding for Bassingthorpe from various pots, including a £31m bid to the Housing Infrastructure Fund to deliver essential transport and drainage infrastructure.

Images: Google Maps / RMBC / WYG

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