Thursday, July 5, 2018

News: Bassingthorpe sell off nears

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With the Local Plan adopted, Rotherham Council is preparing to dispose of land that it owns on the housing site at Bassingthorpe Farm.

It was in November 2016 when the authority approved plans to search for a "Promotion Partner" that would bring skills and funding to facilitate the delivery of the site.

As part of the Local Plan core strategy that was adopted by the Council in 2014, the 215 hectare area close to Rotherham town centre was controversially removed from the Green Belt and designated as a Strategic Allocation and the main location for new housing, employment and retail growth.

2,400 dwellings could be joined by 11 hectares for employment use, a local health centre, primary school, and a local centre together with the green and social infrastructure necessary to create facilities to serve the new and existing communities.

Around 57 hectares (26%) of the site is under Rotherham Council's ownership and the Council has been leading on the proposals for a number of years, working collaboratively with major landowner, Fitzwilliam (Wentworth) Estates, on how to bring forward the project.

The Council's cabinet is set to make a key decision later this year: "To approve the disposal of the land that forms part of the Bassingthorpe housing allocation and to authorise negotiation on the final terms and complete the transaction."

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Since 2016, partners have been searching for external funding to support the project whilst courting potential developers and investors.

The promotion partner route involves the partner taking on responsibility for securing planning permission, marketing and disposing of the land to end users, such as house builders, in exchange for a share of the receipts (typically around 15-20%). An option to appoint a delivery partner if a promotion partner cannot be found was also put forward. Popular with house-builders, this route involves partners taking options to purchase the land outright.

To support development at Bassingthorpe, funding has been secured for a £4.63m scheme to improve capacity on College Road roundabout on the edge of Rotherham town centre. Bids have also gone in for Government funding via the Sheffield city region (SCR).

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.

Bassingthorpe was one of the key SCR projects in the portfolio taken to this year's MIPIM event. It was revealed that further meetings at the high profile property event led to two parties expressing an interest in the Bassingthorpe housing development.

Masterplanners, WYG undertook consultation last year on the vision to create a "garden suburb for the 21st century." It showed a range of character areas including a new modern urban living housing area at Clough Bank View. A mixed use area is also included incorporating the Grade II Listed Bassingthorpe Farm buildings and showed a primary school, retail, health, community uses and sports pitches.

A new business park and industrial area are also included in the plans.

WYG said at the consultation: "The Council and Fitzwilliam Wentworth Estate are working together to secure a delivery partner or partners. We expect a delivery partner/partners to put in a planning application followed by roads, drains, sewers. The delivery partner/partners may then sell off parcels of land to house builders such as Taylor Wimpey, Jones Homes, Strata for example. We think this will start to happen during 2018."

The Council are set to prepare planning guidance known as a Supplementary Planning Document or SPD for the site which will require further consultation. It was expected for new houses to start being built from 2020/2021.

The Council is playing a role in boosting house building in the borough. The overall number of homes in the borough increased by 479 units in the 2017/18 financial year, below the Council's target of 641 units.

RMBC website

Images: RMBC / Fitzwilliam (Wentworth) Estates / WYG

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