Thursday, August 31, 2017

News: Council to set up JV for Forge Island development


A Joint Venture development is seen as Rotherham Council's preferred option for realising the £43m catalyst regeneration project on Forge Island in the town centre.

The new masterplan has a strong focus on boosting the leisure uses in the town centre, which along with further housing, is expected to improve vitality, attract more visitors and keep people in the area.

A council report on the plans sates: "The masterplan contains a series of proposals and plans which bring to life how the town centre can move forward. It includes proposals to transform a number of key sites across the town centre utilising the river and canal, open spaces and feature buildings. At the heart of the masterplan is a vision to create a much-improved visitor experience with more to do and to see particularly targeted at families and young people."

Seen as the major catalyst project in picking up the momentum for the town's regeneration, the plans, which were developed for the Council by WYG Group and Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH), reiterate the desire for a leisure, retail and residential development around the riverside at Forge Island.

Previously the Rotherham Forge & Rolling Mills, the 1.57 hectare site has recently been fully cleared following the relocation of Tesco across town in 2014. Currently used as a car park which will be extended for at least another year, the site is now owned by Rotherham Council.


Developers, investors and operators are showing a keen interest in working up proposals for a five screen cinema, 60-bed hotel, food outlets, bars and cafes (around 24,000 - 30,000 sq ft of space), and 120+ residential units. A 300+ space multi storey car park is also in the plans and a feasibility study is being carried out on the potential of a new theatre and arts space on the adjacent site of the former Law Courts, which is also owned by the Council. A hydro-electric power system could be incorporated on the weir.

Soft-market testing has been underway alongside property firm, LSH and a brief was taken to MIPIM, the global property event. Now, councillors and commissioners are been asked to approve the masterplan and at the same time, the mechanism for the implementation of the Forge Island proposals.

The masterplan, which focuses on implementation, identifies the appointment of a development partner to realise the vision for Forge Island as a critical next step.

The report highlights that the Council cannot wait for the market to deliver projects, or at the other end of the scale, create a body to deliver all projects and schemes in the masterplan.

The preferred option at this time is for the Council to seek a development partner to form a Joint Venture for the development of Forge Island. Upon completion of the scheme the Council has the option to retain the asset (its land) as an investment or sell to the investment market.

Options to appoint a development manager, sell the cleared Forge Island site to a developer, or act as a developer itself, have been discounted by the authority.

Simeon Leach, economic strategy and partnerships manager at RiDO, the regeneration arm of Rotherham Council, said: "Development of Forge Island has been identified as a priority. The site and much of the surrounding land is already in Council ownership and developments to the West of the town centre; including the Law Courts, Riverside Precinct, and Corporation Street, as well as linking with both the rail station and bus interchange.

"A brief is currently under development and it is intended this will be taken to the market by September 2017 to secure a development partner. With the requirement to obtain planning permission, this is likely to lead to a start on site during the second half of 2018."


On Forge Island, the masterplan states: "Proposals focus on a new leisure destination featuring a new cinema, bars, restaurants, and a quality hotel. This area might also include a new theatre and arts centre. Together these uses will provide a new focus for activity and draw people into the town.

"In addition, there will be new town centre apartments, ample car parking and new public squares and green space. This new development will be well connected to the core town centre via a new landmark bridge and connect to rail station and bus station close by.

"Forge Island has the clear potential to be the flag-ship project in the masterplan and the catalyst for regeneration of the town centre."

Images: WYG / RMBC


Mr me August 31, 2017 at 12:59 PM  

5 screen,seems a bit small,thought a study said town could have a 10 screen?Barnsley is getting a 10 screen,as usual Rotherham will get something too small,as happened with tiny Leisure centre,which should be about 5 times bigger for a town Rotherhams size.

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