Wednesday, September 5, 2018

News: Detailed flats plan for former uni building


A detailed planning application for a long-vacant building in Rotherham shows how the future use is set to be as residential, but it came close to becoming bought by a religious organisation who wanted to use it for educational purposes.

Rothbiz reported in July that the long leasehold interest of Humphry Davy House at Manvers had been acquired for an undisclosed sum by The Investment Room.

The 45,460 sq ft property on Golden Smithies Lane was built for the University of Sheffield in the late 1990's and was previously home to its School of Nursing and Midwifery.

Having been refused on permitted development rights, full planning permission is now being sought for the conversion and extension of the existing building to create 109 flats.

Plans, put together by JR Planning, show that 48 would be studio flats, 52 would be 1-bed flats and 9 would be 2-bed flats and that the proposed extension would be located to the west of the main building and would be constructed to ensure it had an external appearance to match that of the existing. 145 car parking spaces are also proposed.


Despite being in an area allocated as industrial use, the previous use by the University is agreed to be D1 (non-residential institution) rather than a B1 (business) usage.

After the university pulled out of a tender process, the last intake of Midwifery Studies degree students was in July 2006 and the building went up for sale a year later. It has been vacant ever since.

The applicant's evidence shows the building has been marketed since 2007 but there has been little appetite for commercial or office use.

Mike Hull, managing director of the agents, SMC, said in support of the application: "The property went on the market just before the global economic crisis and shortly after Enterprise Zone status ended. There was a catastrophic collapse in demand for offices in the Dearne Valley which had previously been buoyed by EZ status. There were cases were offices previously valued at several millions of pounds were being sold by receivers for hundreds of thousands of pounds.

"Market values have still not recovered to anything like pre-recession levels and demand for office buildings of this size is weak at this location."

The application also includes details on interested parties looking to take on the building. This included the bidders hoping to open a university centre in the Dearne Valley which ultimately failed to secure Government funding.

The closest the agents came to a deal was in 2014 when an unnamed religious organisation submitted a "serious offer" in order to use the site as a private school but the deal failed due to issues with securing the freehold.

The residential application concludes: "The current application represents an opportunity to make a positive contribution to the delivery of new housing in the area and would also allow for the productive re-use of a building which presently detracts from the sense of vitality in the area."

Adjacent to the Dearne Valley College Campus, the site was previously occupied by the National Coal Board. Humphry Davy was a British chemist best known for his experiments in electro-chemistry and his invention of a miner's safety lamp.

Investment Room website

Images: Investment Room / JR Planning / Silkstone Environmental


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