Friday, May 8, 2015

News: Bidding ends for Pithouse West site


Developers bidding to acquire the Pithouse West site from Rotherham Council will need to submit their offers by the end of today.

The council has long had ambitions for the greenbelt site next to Rother Valley Country Park to be transformed into a landmark leisure / tourism development.

In August 2011 the council confirmed leisure organisation China Vision Ltd and regeneration specialist MCD Developments as the preferred developers for the site and sale agreements and head leases for 180 and 153 acres of former opencast land were close to being signed. Visions of China planned to be a £118m, 120 acre cultural theme park set in an authentically built and landscaped Chinese environment combining a range of experiences and activities for visitors.

Last year the council's, now defunct, cabinet received a report which set out details on negotiations for the disposal of the land. It was explained that the decision allows the council to enter into discussions with any other parties who are interested in developing that site as they hadn't been able to satisfy themselves by the Visions of China project that they were making sufficient progress.

The bid documents state: "The aspiration of the council as landowner of the Pithouse West site is to bring about a distinctive landmark leisure-led development of regional / national significance.

"The key objectives for any disposal of the site are for it to: deliver a high quality ecologically and environmentally sustainable development; promote and add significant value to leisure-led tourism in the region; maximise the potential of the adjacent Rother Valley Country Park as a complementary recreational leisure destination; provide a high quality, sustainably built and designed development; engage with local stakeholders in the development and operation of the project; generate significant regeneration benefits to the Borough of Rotherham, South Yorkshire and the wider region."

This will be the third time the council has sought interested from developers. The site of the proposed £350m YES! Project was put up for sale by the council after original developers, Oak Holdings made a material lack of progress since entering a preferred developer agreement in 2003.

The YES! Project was set to create the largest undercover leisure based scheme in Europe. Outline planning approval was granted in 2007 and updated plans were approved in September 2010.

Bidders hoping to acquire the land will need to outline their concept, including a detailed description of the proposed scheme, the masterplan for the development and any timings and background research available. They will also need to discuss financials, provide background information on their organisation and discuss challenges involved in bringing development forward.

The documents also show how the council are set to select its preferred offer, giving more weight to the economic impact and deliverability of the project than the financial offer.

Bidders will need to take into account that there remains a clawback arrangement with previous landowners, the Coal Authority. When the council acquired the site for £195,000 in 2001, legal clauses were put in place that means that if any development takes place on the development platform, the Coal Authority would receive up to 10% of the uplift in value following implementation of a planning permission. If any development takes place on the surrounding land then 50% of the uplift in value is payable.

RiDO website

Images: RMBC


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