Wednesday, March 14, 2012

News: Demolition required to save the Guest & Chrimes buildings


As part of the development of the New York Stadium site, Rotherham United is planning to demolish the rear of the former Guest & Chrimes foundry, in a bid to protect the building's historic frontage.

The £20m stadium is heading towards completion on the site close to Rotherham town centre. The remaining Grade II listed buildings of the former iron and brass foundry sit between the stadium and the council's new offices on Main Street.

They have remained empty since the foundry closed in 1999 and little interest has been shown in them since 2004 when plans for a Tesco development on the site were refused following an appeal.

Now plans have been submitted to the council by RU Estates Ltd, the company that is leading the development of the stadium, to ask for consent to demolish the three rear buildings previously used for manufacturing.

It is hoped that this will enable a much wider range of possible uses for the site and lead to more interest in the property from developers and operators.

The overall aim is for the refurbishment and restoration of the main frontage buildings, which would have contained offices and showrooms, and are considered to be of most importance in terms of heritage and architecture.

Another reason for the proposed demolition is that consultants, Gleeds, estimate that it would take an investment of £8.8m just to bring the current property up to a marketable condition.

A report on the commercial viability of the site is also included in the plans. Commercial property consultant, GVA, asses the viability of the site for use as offices, warehousing, a hotel, retail, and residential. All have significant reasons for not progressing, linked to the associated costs of redevelopment and flood risks.

With the regeneration of the site led by New York Stadium and Riverside House, interest has come from a hotel operator who looked at the Guest & Chrimes site but it was deemed "financially unviable."

In addition, GVA reported recent interest in a small part of the building fronting Don Street from a local micro-brewery, but again the cost of conversion would be too expensive.

A spokesperson for GVA, said: "We are more than aware of the sensitive issues regarding the property in terms of its listing; however there would certainly be more interest shown in the property if the additional three rear wings could be removed and the main part of the building fronting Don Street was retained.

"Should this be possible then the scope of potential uses of the site/property would be much wider and the main frontage of the property could be integrated in to a new scheme or extensions which would loosen the constraints of the property's use for any potential occupiers."

The important industrial firm established a manufacturing operation near to the Market Place in 1843 with the Chrimes brothers, Peter and Edward, setting up a brass foundry where they invented and produced the high-pressure loose valve screw-down tap.

The firm rapidly expanded into sluice valves, fire hydrants and water meters and John Guest joined the firm in 1847. Following a very large order from Spain, the company moved to the present site in 1857.

Heritage consultants conclude that the remaining buildings are of significant local interest but moderate regional, and low national interest. The interest has been eroded by more modern alterations to the buildings and recent damage.

Images: Rotherham United / Signet Planning


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