Wednesday, September 5, 2018

News: Slow progress on Guest & Chrimes

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Rotherham United chairman, Tony Stewart has admitted that progress has been on slow on the proposed redevelopment of the former Guest & Chrimes site where a recent fire led to part of the Grade II listed building being demolished.

Rothbiz reported on the fire at the former factory on the edge of Rotherham town centre in July. Following recent structural surveys, the historic frontage facing the River Don has been completely demolished.

Opened in 1857, the history of the works is of national and international significance due to the role of the Guest & Chrimes business in pioneering the design and manufacture of brass valves and screw-down taps across the world. The firm once employed thousands.

The large premises are on Don Street between Rotherham Council's Riverside House and Rotherham United's New York Stadium.

Empty since 1999, the site was purchased by Rotherham Council for £2.6m from developers, Evans in 2010 and is now controlled by the football club which has a very long lease from the Council.

The town centre masterplan outlined an aim for Guest & Chrimes to create a focus for recreation and sporting activity in the town. The club has been in ongoing talks with investors regarding a trampoline centre, as well as discussions with Historic England (formerly English Heritage) over the reuse of the site.

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Tony Stewart, chairman of Rotherham United (pictured), told a recent fan's forum: "We're monitoring it closely with English Heritage and the council. There have been two or three propositions that we've put forward. I think we've had 15 or so meetings with English Heritage, the progress is slow, but it's progress."

The masterplan stated that Historic England will be positive and flexible if the "right" conservation approach is taken.

Details such as the water tower, front range (now demolished), waterside entrance (now demolished) and general layout of the buildings are highlighted but the masterplan concluded: "As many of these features as possible should be retained or incorporated, but it is recognised by all that change and some demolition will be necessary to deliver a viable and deliverable scheme."

Consultants for the club, Gleeds, estimated that it would take an investment of £8.8m just to bring the current property up to a marketable condition and said that there had been little interest from developers in doing so.

Don Street, which passes between the building and the River Don, is used by fans accessing the family stand and away stand at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.

The section of the Trans Pennine Trail which runs along the river has recently been reopened.

Also at the fan's forum, Steve Coakley, commercial director at the Championship club was asked about the remaining units inside the £20m stadium that hosted its first game in 2012.

Coakley said: "Once something happens with Guest and Chrimes, I think the value of those corner units will be significantly more. It acts as a bit of a barrier to the town centre. There have been opportunities in the past but they haven't been right."

Current tenants include the club's own community sports trust and the Mears construction academy.

RUFC website

Images: Tom Austen / RUFC

1 comments:

Rod Laughton September 5, 2018 at 12:42 PM  

Now the “historic frontage” has been lost, and the battle to preserve one of Rotherham’s few industrial relics gone, what is the hold up? Sadly, most of the town’s history has been lost due to Council apathy (like the pending demolition of Kimberworth (Infants) School).

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