Tuesday, July 12, 2011

News: Frankie & Benny's plans refused


Plans for a 377 sq m Frankie & Benny's restaurant at Parkgate Shopping in Rotherham have been refused planning permission by Rotherham Council.

The main reason given in the officer's report was that the development would be a destination in its own right and would divert trade, investment and expenditure away from Rotherham town centre. It also concluded that there were preferable sites for a restaurant in the town centre. Both are contrary to national planning policies designed to promote sustainable economic growth and used protect town centres.

British Land, the owners of the retail park, submitted plans in January that would replace the existing management and toilet block in the centre of the park, creating a restaurant and 30 FTE jobs.

In appraising the application, planners disputed the claims that current and potential sites in the town centre were unsuitable after the applicant discounted locations such as the purpose built Keppel Wharf and Old Market developments and development sites such as Westgate, Drummond Street Car Park and Forge Island.

With regard to Keppel Wharf, the applicant stated that it was not suitable as subdivision would be awkward and that there is not any complimentary leisure, retail and car parking in close proximity. They also said that "surrounding uses include bars and nightclubs which conflict with the "family" function of the application proposals."

Planners stated that the reasons for discounting the sites remain questionable given that significant investment has been put into Keppel Wharf and the Old Market sites to help in the regeneration of the town centre and that they have been developed particularly with a future restaurant use in mind.

The planners also do not accept the applicant's assessment on the impact of locating a Frankie & Benny's at Parkgate. The applicant concluded that "our updated analysis identifies that, in a context where the current restaurant provision within Rotherham Town Centre is so limited, and a majority of residents within the Borough are recognised as visiting restaurant facilities elsewhere, no significant adverse impact will arise on either the A3 [restaurant] sector, or importantly Rotherham Town Centre as a whole."

The planners report stated that: "simply arguing that Rotherham's poor catering offer means that a better quality out of centre offer won't affect it is missing the point" and does not accord with planning policies.

Images: Ingenium Archial Ltd / British Land


Anonymous,  July 12, 2011 at 10:23 AM  

Could they not build this next to the new football stadium in the town centre? There is space planned for additional units to be built and ample car parking, plus it will open up the area to be used throughout the evenings.

Anonymous,  July 12, 2011 at 10:46 AM  

I think that's a shame. Rotherham is desperate for evening traffic as it's largely a ghost town right now (save for the weekend bingers).

Unless someone makes the investment to generate that custom, no custom will come, and it sounds like F&B were willing to take a punt.

I can't think of another venue which "fits" F&B in central Rotherham (lots of parking, with other supportive outlets nearby), so I presume they will just go elsewhere.

Suggesting the Old Market is disingenuous bordering on idiotic - there's nowhere to park save the privately-owned Tesco car park or half a mile away the Bus Station multi-storey. Ditto with Keppel Wharf. What could RMBC possibly have been thinking to suggest those? Unless the Tesco Car Park is becoming a council car park, which would make sense (for Rotherham, not for Tesco)?

Tom Austen July 13, 2011 at 9:10 AM  

Thanks for your comments. Something like this next to the new ground is a good fit and the club's chairman has talked about "other uses" on the site.

I think the council should get credit for standing up to developers and trying to help the town centre.

I'll keep my eye out for any appeals or resubmitted plans.


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