Tuesday, November 1, 2016

News: Council's bid for Riverside Precinct


The last remaining traders in the run-down Riverside Precinct are set to be offered a way out as Rotherham Council prepares to launch a bid to buy the properties to aid its town centre regeneration ambitions.

The authority is in negotiations to buy the Forge Island site which is currently home to an empty supermarket and a car park following the relocation of Tesco across town in 2014.

Rothbiz revealed in September that a bid to buy further properties at the adjacent Riverside Precinct was on the cards and now Commissioner Kenny is set to be asked to approve attempts to acquire the "remaining interests in the properties forming part of Riverside Precinct to assist in the redevelopment of Forge Island and to deliver wider town centre regeneration."

The authority already owns a number of units within the small courtyard parade of eight shops on Corporation Street, which has seen a decline in footfall and an increase in empty units since Tesco relocated.


A number of tenants have already made the move across town out of the precinct where only a few traders remain. Andrew's - the Yorkshire Butcher - moved to Effingham Street, close to the £40m Tesco store, John Norris Greengrocers moved to a unit in the Old Town Hall and Craft Corner & The Bear's Den moved into the regenerated former Georgian town house on the High Street.

The funding for the acquisition is set to come from the £17m town centre allocation in the Council's Capital Strategy and investigations are underway into leaseholders and their tenancies. Expected costs have not been made public.

The approval would enable council officers to enter into formal negotiations to purchase the remaining four leasehold interests via private treaty negotiation of Units 1, 2, 5 & 8.

The acquisition would form a key part of any redevelopment providing a link from Forge Island through onto Corporation Street and into the core of the town centre.

Separate draft proposals from 2012 showed the Riverside Precinct replaced by new retail units and a family pub, or a mixed use residential area.

A council report points out the current market conditions affecting the precinct which should help with the acquisition, "with reduced footfall and depressed rental levels affecting the capital values and the likelihood of potential purchasers or tenants."

Cllr Denise Lelliott, cabinet member for jobs and the local economy said last month: "Forge Island is a major feature in the town centre regeneration. Private investment flows into a town centre where there is development certainty and where projects can be seen to be viable. We are confident that this development will act as a catalyst to other development in the area and will help to regenerate surrounding areas."


ARUP's supplementary planning document states: "Forge Island will become a major new piece of the Town Centre, with a strong leisure and residential focus. Forge Island will be a new mixed-use leisure hub. Proposals should seek to incorporate a mix of residential units and leisure developments (including A3/A4/D2 uses [restaurants, pubs, leisure]), to help create a new and vibrant Leisure Quarter in the centre of Rotherham that complements the existing Retail Quarter.

"New linkages should be created across the river, to provide movement routes on an east-west and north-south axis, intersecting at a new public square."

The Council is set use its financial firepower to invest around £17m in key projects that have been agreed in principle as those that should be supported. These include a cinema, which in turn is expected to attract secondary restaurant, shop and bar developments. The pot includes provisional sums for the purchase of Forge Island and a "reverse premium" to incentivise a developer or end user to deliver a leisure scheme.

A detailed development proposal and a delivery and implementation plan for the Forge Island site will be prepared in tandem with the town centre masterplan which is due to be completed in Spring 2017.

Images: RMBC


Tom,  November 7, 2016 at 10:37 AM  

RMBC owns the freeholds and is looking to acquire the remaining leaseholds.

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