Tuesday, October 14, 2014

News: New Tesco prompts planners to shift Rotherham's retail centre


The development of the new £40m Tesco Extra store in Rotherham town centre has prompted council planners to redraw the boundary of Rotherham's retail centre.

Consultation has begun on the final draft of the borough's Sites and Policies document as the council finalises its local plan. In accordance with national planning policies, the new local plan needs to identify the town centre areas where it is preferable that uses such as retail, offices and leisure are located - the so-called "town centre first" approach.

Rotherham town centre is given the highest standing as the principal town centre, followed by outlying town centres, district centres and local centres.

For the town centre, amendments are being proposed to extend the town centre boundary north to include the new 10,000 sq m Tesco and car park at Walker Place, and existing car park at Drummond Street, to better define the area where retail development is concentrated.

Also required is the street by street definition of primary and secondary frontages. In primary areas, policies are being proposed that would ensure that the main planning use comes under the retail (A1) planning class. Other uses would be permitted, but only if they add to the attractiveness and liveliness of the town centre. Planners are keen for there not to be a dilution of the concentration of A1 shops below 70% and for there not be three or more non-retail uses in adjoining premises. In Rotherham town centre, primary frontages would be on Effingham Street, College Street, Frederick Street, Drummond Street and All Saints Square.

Secondary frontages would be on High Street, Bridgegate and the Centenary Markets. Here further uses such as restaurants, cafes, pubs, leisure, would be permitted and the concentration of retail shops could be as low as 25%. Any proposals would need to make a positive contribution to the vitality of the main shopping area.

Also within the town centre, the affect of having Tesco move from Forge Island to Drummond Street means that the current car park on Drummond Street and the site out of the outdoor market have been identified as potential development sites for new retail.

The planning documents state that "the car park is adjacent to the new Tesco store and forms part of the proposed town centre extension. Whilst the site has some topographical issues it is considered to represent an opportunity for further town centre development." 5,000 sq m of new retail space could be created here, and the same amount could be created on the site of the outdoor markets complex.

The planning documents add: "The markets are an important asset in Rotherham town centre however the outdoor market is underutilised and there is potential for these stalls to be relocated should a redevelopment opportunity come forward. Redevelopment to include new retail units has the potential to enhance the vitality of the markets complex."

The site of burnt-out buildings on Corporation Street has also been included as potential site for 1,000 sq m of retail development.

The three sites also have the potential for redevelopment as other town centre uses, including offices, assembly and leisure uses or hotels.

Interestingly the future of Forge Island remains uncertain. Set to be acquired by the council when Tesco relocates, the council envisages that the site could accommodate a cinema and potentially office uses in the future. "However the future of the site is uncertain, as are any constraints (such as land contamination). As such it is not identified as a leisure or office development site." The site is still earmarked for retail in the current plan with the council progressing plans to operate the current car park in the short term.

On the edge of the town centre, the large area of land at New York, which includes Riverside House, New York Stadium, the former Guest & Chrimes foundry, a former nightclub and vacant land used for parking, is being put forward for a mix of uses with the area "considered to be suitable for B1 office and hotel uses given its gateway location and proximity to Rotherham town centre and public transport interchanges. It is also considered suitable for assembly and leisure uses given its location, existing uses and proximity to Rotherham town centre."

The now cleared site of the former Doncaster Gate hospital is also earmarked for a mix of uses including office use, housing and residential and nonresidential institutions.

The prominent Westgate site of the sorting office and car parking where developers Satnam have long harboured a desire for bulky retail, is also being put forward for a mix of uses, with the riverside site specifically considered to be "suitable for B1 office and hotel uses given its proximity to Rotherham town centre and public transport interchanges. Housing is also considered suitable in view of the Council's aspiration to increase urban living close to the town centre. It is also considered suitable for non-residential institution and assembly and leisure uses given its location, existing uses and proximity to Rotherham town centre." The planned mix of uses however, does not include D2 assembly and leisure.

Images: RMBC


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