Monday, January 24, 2011

News: Rotherham Council says no to Oak Holdings


Rotherham Council (RMBC) has issued a notice stating that it intends to terminate the current development agreement relating to the YES Project between RMBC, Oak Ventures Limited and Oak Holdings plc.

The £350m proposal was set to create the largest undercover leisure based scheme in Europe adjacent to Rother Valley Country Park in Rotherham.

Oak entered into a preferred developer agreement with RMBC in respect of the YES Project in May 2003 and the development agreement was signed in August 2008. Outline planning approval was granted in 2007 and updated plans for outline planning were approved in September 2010.

Extreme sports specialist Venture Xtreme and golf driving range company Baydrive were the first tenants to sign up and in 2008 and Oak secured a deal with the Sheffield Steelers ice hockey team to develop a new state-of-the-art purpose-built arena on the site.

The plans also included an indoor climbing facility, ice climbing, snow room, diving centre, access mall and changing rooms plus a hydrodome complex, indoor surf centre, rope park pavilion, indoor sky diving, a Top Chip hall and a Via Ferratta (an adventure climbing system).

Further "experience" operations were also mentioned including a brewery experience, a food experience and academy and a chocolate experience.

In November 2010, the Council's Cabinet authorised officers to explore alternative options for the development of the Pithouse West site at Rother Valley and turned down Oak's request to extend the time limit on the development agreement in December. The council has taken the decision to cancel the current development agreement.

Karl Battersby, strategic director of environment development services for Rotherham Borough Council, said: "This is not a decision we have taken lightly and was based on our view of the likelihood of the project being delivered by Oak Holdings.

"This scheme has been running for over ten years and has not progressed as we would have wished, However, our intentions have not changed, and we are still of the view that the site has massive potential.

"We will be seeking other opportunities to bring forward a leisure based scheme of international significance on the site, complementary to Rother Valley Country Park."

In a statement to the stock exchange, Oak's board stated that they are currently reviewing its options in respect of the notice and added that "there is no indication at this stage that RMBC will agree to cancel the termination notice or extend the current development agreement. If the situation changes a further announcement will be made."

Oak also stated that the global financial crisis and depressed property markets had resulted in them being unable to secure the funds needed to commence the development phase of the project.

Oak will continue to manage the Rother Valley Country Park in accordance with the interim management agreement. Oak continues to own the valuable freehold of the A57 land adjacent to the site of the YES Project - the consented access land.

Oak Holdings website

Images: Oak Holdings


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