Thursday, December 13, 2018

News: Strong interest in Rotherham scheme from cinema operators

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Development partner, Muse is projecting confidence in landing a cinema operator for the Forge Island redevelopment in Rotherham town centre.

Muse Developments was chosen as the Council's preferred partner with a proposal that includes a cinema, food and drink outlets and a hotel. The leisure facilities will be set within an attractive public space and will include a new pedestrian bridge connecting to the rest of the town centre.

Discussion over legal agreements continue with Rothbiz reporting on the Council's proposal to take on a head lease of the completed development over a fixed term.

Dan Needham, development director at Muse Developments, gave an update on the progress being made at a recent meeting of the Rotherham Pioneers - the exclusive group for Rotherham businesses who want to promote the town, celebrate all that is good, and grow the Rotherham business community.

The first phase is expected to be a £35m project at current prices with a cinema seen as a key anchor tenant.

Needham explained: "Having already gone out to the market, the demand is there for up to 11 screens. Four out of eight cinema operators have a demand for Rotherham and we are in talks with two of them. We expect to enter discussions on heads of terms next year and potentially announce a cinema operator for Forge Island in March."

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It is getting on for 30 years since Rotherham had a cinema. Cannon, the last town centre cinema, closed in 1990.

The practical completion of the cinema and the first two food and beverage units is pencilled in for October 2020.

The Council's agreement with Muse will include a requirement that the cinema, hotel and two of the restaurant units will be pre-let before the head lease is signed. The initial lease periods will be 20 years for the hotel and cinema and ten years for the restaurant/café units.

Work is progressing on the site with Rotherham Council addressing flood issues with multimillion pound plans for new 3.75 metre high retaining walls and a new flood gate.

Needham, whose grandmother was from Rotherham, added: "Forge island is a fantastic opportunity for leisure but it is not without its challenges, such as flood risk and its previous use for the rolling mills. It's about turning these around and also creating links between the station, the council offices, the stadium and Minster Gardens. Forge Island has a massive role to play.

"The water defines the site. The aspects of the scheme would usually be accommodated on a smaller site but we've been provided with the opportunity for more outside space such as outdoor seating."

With approximately 350 car parking spaces, the scheme is set to include undercroft parking that is designed to flood. The developments above will be raised by around three metres which means that a new footbridge from Minster Gardens and a cleared Riverside precinct site would actually go slightly up towards Forge Island.

Needham concluded: "We can't wait to get going."

Forge Island website
Rotherham Pioneers website

Images: Google Maps / Muse / RMBC

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News: Council begins search for new regen boss

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Rotherham Council is recruiting for a new strategic director for its Regeneration and Environment Directorate - the section which covers services key to the borough's growing economy - business support, inward investment, regeneration, transport and planning.

The role is part of Senior Leadership Team at the authority, which recently saw the departure of Government-appointed commissioners.

Damien Wilson, the previous holder of the £115k+ a year post, resigned in August, with Paul Woodcock, assistant director for Regeneration Planning & Transport, currently acting up.

Recruitment documents, drawn up by consultants at Penna, state: "As strategic director, Regeneration and Environment you will lead this large and diverse range of services working to transform the landscape of Rotherham for the future. We are successfully bringing forward exciting regeneration schemes and working with education and business to ensure our workforce has the skills our businesses need as well as creating 10,000 new jobs in Rotherham as part of our economic development strategy.

"Critical to Rotherham's revival will be to ensure that we have a strong voice within the Sheffield City Region, as well as the resources and expertise to secure funding and deliver successful schemes."

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Major regeneration projects include the town centre regeneration projects such as Forge Island and the Gulliver's Valley leisure development.

The directorate employs 1,279 staff and has a budget of £41m per annum. Other responsibilities include culture, licencing and community safety.

A joint welcome from Cllr. Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Council and Sharon Kemp, the chief executive, reads: "We require the new strategic director to continue to improve outcomes for all of our residents. We will look to you to forge closer links with our key partners and investors, and take advantage of collaborative opportunities that are available. Leading sustainable improvement within the Council's Medium Term Financial Strategy will be critical, ensuring that we continue to deliver value for money across our services whilst improving outcomes for residents.

"Rotherham has all the ingredients for a fantastic career move. We have a good service in place and we need an outstanding Strategic Director to join our close knit and high performing leadership team. If you have ambition, drive and tenacity as well as an unwavering commitment to delivering services for Rotherham which focus on economic regeneration whilst at the same time ensuring we keep neighbourhoods safe, clean, green and well maintained, then we would like to hear from you."

Images: RMBC

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News: New framework for smaller scale construction projects

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Local suppliers and contractors are being sought for a new multimillion pound framework that will cover a range of works for a number of public sector organisations in Rotherham and the surrounding areas.

Rotherham Council has been leading on the development of the framework after it identified that improvements could be made in its procurement for smaller scale work up to the value of £250k.

Most building construction is procured through either the established YORbuild framework or the Efficiency North Framework (for social housing).

A paper to the Council at the start of the process explained: "There are instances where it is not wholly appropriate to use the frameworks for example with roofing or demolition projects. These projects are currently procured through YORbuild and would be sub-contracted to a specialist contractor, with the main YORbuild contractor applying a management fee. This management fee can be in the region of 10% of the tender price and clearly this does not present best value to the authority."

A similar framework, known as "RCP3" began last year and now a tender exercise has begun for "RCP4" - part of an aim to create a framework of SME specialist contractors.

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Local companies are encouraged to get involved. Paul Smith, head of asset management at Rotherham Council was at a recent meeting of the Rotherham Pioneers to explain the importance of including local companies in the supply chain.

Tender documents explain that the aim is for "the establishment of a framework of pre-qualified organisations who have the ability to provide a variety of construction works, principally involving minor building works, structural repairs, roofing, demolition, mechanical and electrical installation and repair works, and fixed wire testing."

Set to start in May 2019 and run for two years with the option to extend, the framework is split into a number of lots such as building works up to £150k and works between £150k and £750k.

It is expected that other local authorities and organisations in Yorkshire, such as the police or fire and rescue services, could also make use of the framework to procure contractors for their projects.

As in previous frameworks, it is likely that tendering will consider the use of local labour and the benefits that this may provide to the borough - these could include apprenticeships, work experience and visits to schools. Proposed methods for utilising the local supply chain and sub-contractors will also be considered.

Rotherham Council website

Images: RMBC

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

News: SBD Apparel going from strength to strength in Rotherham

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A strength and fitness clothing company has grown its staffing tenfold and doubled turnover after relocating to the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham.

SBD Apparel, which manufactures premium performance clothing worn by elite strength and fitness athletes across the world, sought help from Rotherham Investment and Development Office (RiDO), a partner of the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub Enhancement Project, after moving its offices and warehouses closer to its main factory in Rotherham.

RiDO Key Account Manager, John Fox, advised the firm on possible locations and explained the incentives available from moving to a government-designated Enterprise Zone, which led to SBD deciding to base itself at the AMP.

RiDO then provided support to help SBD relocate staff from London to South Yorkshire and hire new employees to expand the business.

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In the two years since relocating, SBD has increased turnover by 160%, growing its workforce from four members of staff to 41. Earlier this year the firm was awarded the Queen's Award for Enterprise for outstanding short term growth in overseas sales. Overseas sales grew by 184% over the previous three years and over 80% of sales are exported.

Benjamin Banks, CEO at SBD Apparel, who competed for Great Britain internationally before founding the company in 2013, said: "The support from RiDO has been very refreshing, proactive and wide ranging.

"Our move to the Advanced Manufacturing Park has paid dividends for us, with Enterprise Zone Status giving business rates relief and obviously our expansion and increased turnover.

"I would certainly encourage other businesses to contact RiDO and the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub Enhancement Project for similar support."

The Enhancement Project provides businesses with intensive one-to-one support from a Key Account Manager and access to free Masterclasses delivered by private sector experts.

SBD Apparel website
RiDO website

Images: SBD Apparel / RiDO

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News: New college programme to improve links to industry

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RNN Group, which comprises of Rotherham College, North Notts College and Dearne Valley College, has received essential funding for its involvement with the Teach Too project, which aims to improve vocational education and training through collaboration between the education sector and employers.

The funding should ensure that catering and hospitality, travel and tourism and digital students can benefit from more industrial placements, masterclasses and workshops led by industry professionals.

The Association of Colleges (AoC), a national voice for further education, sixth form, tertiary and specialist colleges in England, has provided the funding. Acting as the collective voice, AoC represents and promotes the interests of colleges, with a mission to champion and support the sector by enhancing colleges' reputation, influencing decision-makers and advising colleges.

The project is also in collaboration with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP), which are locally-owned partnerships between local authorities and businesses. Private sector-led, LEPs lead on trade and investment activities, transport improvements, housing developments, and skills and training.

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The aim of the Teach Too project is to drive excellence in vocational education and training through collaborative arrangements, encouraging people from industry to spend some time teaching their work, as well as giving employers a direct involvement in designing, planning and developing vocational programmes.

RNN Group will use the funding to further advance its strategic curriculum development by establishing Curriculum Innovation Hubs across the Group. Each Hub will offer the opening of collaboration and innovation in order to increase opportunities for employers, learners, awarding bodies, universities and voluntary agencies.

It is through the programme that the Group aims to raise learner and community aspirations, develop a broad set of employability skills relevant to industry, support business growth that includes training and development of staff and additionally provide routes to higher-level employment opportunities.

Jason Austin, interim principal at RNN Group, said: "The funding received from AoC is a fantastic opportunity for the Group to provide learners a more enhanced learning experience by engaging industry professionals and a modernised design of delivery.

"We plan to work in partnership with local businesses not only to support students in developing the best possible set of skills for them to succeed in their industry, but also to offer additional training for our staff to create the best possible learning environment."

RNN Group website
Teach Too website

Images: RNN Group

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