Wednesday, September 13, 2017

News: Historic hall to make way for Bassingthorpe road improvements


The strategic importance of improving the infrastructure around the proposed Bassingthorpe Farm development is deemed by Rotherham Council to outweigh proposals to save a historic village hall.

The controversial development site is heading to the market with the landowners looking for commercial partners to help bring forward 2,400 dwellings and 11 hectares for employment use. As part of the Local Plan core strategy that was adopted by the Council in 2014, the 215 hectare area close to Rotherham town centre has been removed from the Green Belt and designated as a Strategic Allocation and the main location for new housing, employment and retail growth.

One of the issues to overcome is the viability of the whole development. Previous work has shown estimated delivery costs of over £350m with the infrastructure needed to bring forward houses, associated retail and employment uses estimated at over £50m.

This week, councillors and commissioners approved the option to demolish Greasbrough Public Hall with the cleared site set to be retained in Council ownership for the delivery of a highway improvement scheme.

The hall, which dates from 1925, was declared surplus to requirements by the Council in 2014. It was formally closed as a Community Centre and the building has remained vacant ever since.


In 2016 the Council invited interest from all parties for either a freehold purchase, taking a commercial lease or any group wishing to take a Community Asset Transfer Lease under the Council's adopted policy.

One interested party was Greasbrough Public Hall Community Trust (GPHCT), a local community group formed for the purpose of trying to save the hall and bring it back into meaningful community use. The property has suffered from vandalism and theft since it was closed.

However, the process was halted when the Council's own Transportation and Highways Team highlighted that the site was required to facilitate a highway improvement scheme at the junction that fronts the hall. The junction at present is a miniroundabout and is described as a severe congestion hot spot at peak traffic flow times. The junction was also recommended for improvement as part of the Bassingthorpe Farm masterplan.

Damien Wilson, strategic director of regeneration and environment at Rotherham Council, explained: "In terms of strategic requirements, the need to improve and enhance the access arrangements at that junction overides the need for the community hall at this stage."

A Council report said that it was "unknown during the initial marketing of the hall of the scale of the intervention that was required from the Council to fully alleviate the existing congestion at the junction, taking into account the additional traffic flow that would come from the new residential development at Bassingthorpe Farm."

Local ward councillors and members of the trust made representations before the decision to demolish the hall was made. The demolition work is expected to cost £75,000 and the stone fa├žade of the building is set to be salvaged.

There is the prospect of using levies as a result of the Bassingthorpe development towards a replacement community facility, but it was stressed that this would be based on the viability of the scheme.

Images: Greasbrough Public Hall Community Trust


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