Tuesday, October 5, 2021

News: Family friendly vision for Rotherham town centre

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The masterplan for Rotherham town centre made clear that retail is not the answer as the focus shifts to other town centre uses such as leisure and housing. Now, those working hard to make the plans a reality have been discussing that the new offer should be family friendly.

The masterplan, adopted in 2017, has the Forge Island project as the one that will kickstart regeneration in the town centre. Work is underway on the site of the former Tesco store that is set to be home to an eight screen cinema, a 69 bed hotel, four restaurants and car parking.

The town centre has been without a cinema - a firm family favourite - for over 30 years. With Arc Cinemas signed up, construction was scheduled to begin in autumn 2021.

And with funding confirmed, further family friendly projects on the table include a new central library, further green space (like Snail Yard, cgi above), a fan zone at the Guest & Chrimes site next to the stadium, and the Grimm & Co redevelopment.

It will be a big achievement to get more families back in town given the failings of the local authority and police force, a negative image and perceptions, complaints over antisocial behaviour, a fall in footfall and the consistent returns from surveyed local school children who say that they don't feel safe in the town centre.

Cllr, Denise Lelliott, cabinet member for jobs and the local economy at Rotherham Council, said: "I think what people really want is the family and lifestyle offer. It’s somewhere where they can go and get that family experience. So, for example, working in partnership with Grimm & Co."

The literacy charity had begun a move to larger premises when the COVID pandemic hit. Proposals were approved to enable an expansion into the former Talbot Lane Methodist Church and Grimm & Co now plans to start on a transformed story destination, initiating works to create a new and improved Grimm & Co, a magical emporium of stories for the centre of Rotherham, serving Yorkshire, Humber and beyond.

In addition to more space for magical workshops, the unique gift shop will be recreated within a new story destination for families, including an independent bookshop and café with magical and mortal menu options.

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Deborah Bullivant, founding director of Grimm & Co, said: "Rotherham was the perfect place to set up a charity like this. It’s a hidden gem in South Yorkshire. The children we work with talk to us all the time about how they re-imagine Rotherham. They talked about green spaces, the rivers. They talked about exciting new arts experiences that they can engage in.

"They talked about independent shops that wouldn’t just be shops for you to go and buy something but you would go in and would really engage in those shops and with the people around the town.

"And everybody’s talking about this now, the retail experience. It’s much more than just going into a shop, getting what you need and going home. It’s more about feeling like you’ve gone out, you’ve enjoyed yourself, you’ve done something that you might not have done before and then you take that experience home in your head.

"It’s about being playful with space and it’s about enjoying being in the outdoors, not closed in, and going from shop to shop, from space to space, having a coffee and then going into an experience like the cinema, an art experience, a gallery. That’s what Rotherham’s new model is looking like. It’s an experiential town centre and lots of cultures coming together learning about each other."

Rotherham is planning to brand itself as the world's first Children's Capital of Culture in 2025. The move is part of a new cultural strategy with an action that is described as highlighting Rotherham as "a place people want to visit, where everyone can enjoy Rotherham through the eyes, ears and actions of children and young people."

With high profile events like Rotherham United's AESSEAL New York Stadium hosting four games at the UEFA Women's Euros in 2022, Cllr. Lelliott is looking forward to more people experiencing the borough's "wonderful warm community."

Lelliott added: "I think Rotherham town centre in years to come should be feeling like you are coming home. That you come to a place that is full of warmth, welcoming, happy families and really, really good community feel for it."

Grimm & Co website
Rotherham town centre website

Images: RMBC / Grimm & Co

16 comments:

Anonymous,  October 5, 2021 at 11:45 AM  

More bars and restaurants are what's required for the night-time economy,when the kids are all tucked up in bed!

Anonymous,  October 5, 2021 at 2:35 PM  

I look forward to the FORTH Central Library in the 'town centre' in fifty years.
1) Howard St - loved it - Building sold off.
2) Concrete 70s, Our son liked it. Demolished and sold to Tesco.
3) Main St - Unattractive, out of the way, NEVER used it!
4) Surely the Council will get it right this time?

Anonymous,  October 5, 2021 at 2:57 PM  

New library will probably be tiny,like everything else Rotherham gets,always to small for area,while other local towns go big with projects ,Rotherham god 'Toytown"!

Anonymous,  October 5, 2021 at 9:39 PM  

This is an original and innovative concept which done well could drive visitors to the town center. A much more forward thinking approach than the constant calls from others for more retail and bars which are both shrinking sectors.

Anonymous,  October 6, 2021 at 11:00 AM  

People won't go to a town centre to sit down doing nothing , especially surrounded by dregs of society,agreed retail is done,but quality bars and restaurants is the way, especially with many more people actually planned to live in town centre.

Anonymous,  October 6, 2021 at 4:11 PM  

Calling out people as "Dregs of society" is both disrespectful and derogatory and does not aid the debate.

Graldhunter October 6, 2021 at 4:46 PM  

"Rotherham is planning to brand itself as the world's first Children's Capital of Culture in 2025"... well at least it beats Rovrum Laybah's record of inaction on the wicked Child Rape and Sexual Exploitation capital of South Yorkshire 👿👿👿👿👿👿

Anonymous,  October 6, 2021 at 11:09 PM  

Calling out the truth,that vast majority would agree with ,you carry on with your delusional ,fluffy view of Rotherham!

Anonymous,  October 7, 2021 at 10:03 AM  

It might be derogatory, but unfortunately it's true. People who overlook it are a part of the problem.

Mr me October 7, 2021 at 11:37 AM  

The dregs I see blown there ,don't deserve any respect!

Martin Plumb,  October 7, 2021 at 1:43 PM  

I agree with the comment around calling people "Dregs of society" - it is disrespectful and adds nothing to the conversation. No one is denying Rotherham has had or continues to have problems, but we should be looking to solutions to move forward, as the council is doing, rather than continually lambasting people over the past. Let's discuss how we can make positive business changes to improve Rotherham rather than demonising vulnerable members of society.

Anonymous,  October 7, 2021 at 2:52 PM  

I also think some quality bars and restaurants should be included in the town center around the Forge Island development to enhance the leisure offer, though these should be limited so we don't see a resurgence in alcohol related anti social behavior on the scale Rotherham has had in the past. The focus should be on continental style cafe culture rather than night clubs and cheap chain pubs.

Anonymous,  October 7, 2021 at 6:00 PM  

Rotherham is dead on every level,it's nightlife is now light years behind likes of Doncaster and Barnsley,far far too few bars and restaurants,needs many more to compete.

Mr me October 7, 2021 at 6:04 PM  

Don't think,smackheads,dopeheads,alcos,muggers, shoplifters ect...can be called vulnerable,dregs of society is a minor description to what I'd label them,I'll not say it though,as the liberal do-gooders will more than likely have a coronary!

Michael,  October 7, 2021 at 8:40 PM  

I would consider people who have a problem with substance abuse or addiction vulnerable and in need of support rather than derision and name calling. I hope if you ever find yourself in a difficult situation that you are treated with more compassion than you afford others.

Anonymous,  October 7, 2021 at 8:41 PM  

A street food development such as the Market Kitchen in Barnsley or the Wool Market in Doncaster would be a welcome addition

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