Wednesday, March 19, 2014

News: Market research in Rotherham


Consultants are being brought in by the council to help decide how best to redevelop Rotherham Markets.

Rotherham Council began looking again at redeveloping the markets complex in Rotherham town centre last year, in order to take advantage of Tesco's imminent move across town. The Centenary Markets Complex requires redevelopment and £25,000 of funding was secured to carry out design and feasibility work on both the indoor and outdoor sections to establish how best to bring forward this redevelopment.

The redevelopment of the markets is a pressing issue for the council given that the new £40m Tesco development may open on the site of the former civic offices before the end of this year.

Construction work is well underway with the main steelwork erected over recent weeks. Planning applications for the store's signage have already been submitted.

Consultants, The Retail Group are now being brought in at a cost of £19,000 to identify the future strategy and growth plan for Rotherham Markets, and the right markets offer for the town and its customers. It will also look at the rationale for investing in the markets and the optimum additional physical requirements, as well as identifying "actions to improve performance and to effectively utilise the development opportunities available."

The Retail Group worked alongside Colliers International to produce a retail and leisure study of Rotherham town centre in 2009. One conclusion of the study was that Rotherham should raise the profile of the market and for it to become a local landmark. It noted that the market is currently a hidden gem, yet it has the potential to play a much more effective anchor role.

The consultants added that the indoor market's key weaknesses include a dated and tired environment and weak entrances, which fail to do justice to what's on offer inside. Recommendations included opening up the main entrance areas, modern, "fit for purpose" stalls, upgrading of the internal d├ęcor, a much greater emphasis on fresh food, and additional quality catering operators.

Options for the redevelopment of the outdoor tented market have been devised and cost estimates to deliver the works are in the order of £4m. Funding is likely to come from the council's capital programme and other external funding sources to secure delivery of the project.

In securing approval for the £19,000 from the Rotherham Economic Regeneration Fund (RERF), Simeon Leach, economic development manager at Rotherham Council, said: "We have been recently informed that the opening of the new Tesco store on the former Civic site may open late 2014. This work is an essential part of us identifying the appropriate activity to carry out on the Market Complex to maximise the benefits and minimise the threat from the Tesco store and as such is needed as a matter of urgency.

"The Retail Group has previously worked with the council in producing a Town Centre Retail Strategy, which was awarded after an open tender process. This was also a very good piece of work. It also means they already have a good knowledge of Rotherham town centre and the dynamics of its retail offer."

Opened in March 1971, the Centenary Market Complex was built to replace the street market and old Victorian market hall situated on Corporation Street. In 1998 the new roof was completed, covering 3,500 sq m of outdoor market.

A major footfall attractor for the town, the markets currently draw in around 85,000 visits per week. Redevelopment has always been an objective in the Rotherham Renaissance initiative to regenerate the town. Previous plans drawn up through the design stages even showed a new car park with bowling alley, cinema and food court above, on the site of the covered outside market.

Rotherham Town Centre website

Images: RMBC / Facebook


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