Wednesday, November 14, 2018

News: "Time to be radical" - Wayne's words on Rotherham town centre


No stranger to controversy and with a love to challenge the status quo, Wayne Hemingway MBE gave developers, councillors, officers, creatives and cultural organisations in Rotherham plenty to think about at a "visioning workshop" on the town centre this week.

Having built up and sold fashion label Red or Dead with his wife Gerardine, the pair have gone on to work on impactful regeneration and urban design projects with Wayne often being called on to talk about retail, regeneration and our town centres.

At an event held at Wentworth Woodhouse and which was organised by Rotherham Council and Great Place Wentworth & Elsecar, with support from the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust (WWPT) and the Arts Council, Hemingway talked about retail and the societal shifts which he sees as just as important as the rise of online shopping.

The designer said: "First of all, stop using the word "High Street." High Street means shopping, town centre doesn't. Town centre is about experiences and social gathering. Language is important.

"Retail ain't coming back. It's no use crying over spilt milk. Retail is stupid and we aren't. Young people who understand sustainability and have lower disposable incomes realise that there are much better things to do than to go shopping for things we don't really need."

Showing a picture of a Brighton street with pawnbrokers next to loan shops next to bookmakers, which could have easily been Rotherham, Wayne said: "That to me says "misery" and we've created that. As a society, we've let that happen. The life experiences we had growing up, the gigs, the opportunities, they don't happen now with pension funds owning our town centres."


Rotherham has signed off on its town centre masterplan which places a greater emphasis on town centre living and leisure, as opposed to traditional retail uses, in continuing the regeneration. Consultation is also underway on a new cultural strategy for the borough.

Addressing a group of creative business and cultural organisations as well as the Council, Hemingway discussed how culture and creativity should be placed at the heart of decision-making for Rotherham town centre, giving examples of Blackburn developing its own unique selling point based on "making" and Berlin which gave creatives free reign to make the forgotten Mitte district a vibrant cultural hub.

"Nothing good comes from decision-making without culture being considered," Wayne said, "Having been European Capital of Culture, if a multi-story car park is planned in Liverpool now, questions are asked about its cultural benefit. Creative minds stick pins in, ask questions, you have to have it in decision-making."

A focus of the event was about what anybody can do towards creating and realising a vision for the town. It has kickstarted an open ended discussion.

Hemingway, who has a degree in geography and town planning, discussed the opportunity for Rotherham. He said: "It's time to be radical, tinkering won't do it.

"Every town centre has got to find its USP. Don't copy, stand out. It's got to be meaningful and original. It's not about being young and trendy, this is life. It's about being independent. Everybody wants to be creative."

With councillors, officers and MUSE, the developers appointed by the council, in attendance, Wayne added: "Forge Island is your chance. Deliver something beautiful and that has serendipity and you've got a chance. You'll also die happy."

Images: Rebecca Reid / HemingwayDesign / MUSE


Anonymous,  November 14, 2018 at 3:30 PM  

Think the Forge Island development needs to be far far better than the last artists impression.They look poor,and unambitious,not a development for town of Rotherhams size.Come on !!

Anonymous,  November 15, 2018 at 10:44 AM  

The forge island development on its own is not enough to change the town centre, you need more people to work and live in the town centre, lots of towns have been struggling, look up the road to Barnsley and what’s happened there, that could be a start !

Anonymous,  November 15, 2018 at 11:32 AM  

Rotherham council are in charge, it’ll be dodgy backhanders!

Anonymous,  November 15, 2018 at 2:01 PM  

Funny Barnsley is mentioned,not they've got a 10 screen cinema being built,yet Rotherham a much larger town,only.has a 5 screen.planned??A five screen can't cover all new released films?As usual Rotherham get things to small for it look at the Sport centres at St Anns far to small to cover all central Rotherham,over 100000!Council is useless with no.ambition!👎👎👎

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