Thursday, February 20, 2020

News: Rotherham Council outlines aims for town centre cash


Rotherham Council has set its four main aims that it hopes to see addressed by the Future High Street Fund - the Government pot announced to help areas to develop plans to reinvent their high streets.

Rotherham town centre has been shortlisted for part of the £1bn fund but it is competitive and it is not yet known what, if any, cash the borough will receive.

Around £86m of projects have been identified in the draft Rotherham business case. There is potentially £25m from the Government and £34m of private sector investment is also incorporated, mainly from the Forge Island development.

The authority's annual budget document highlights how the council would use the money. The aims follow on from the town centre masterplan (TCM) which places the focus on more leisure and residential uses and a diversifying of the high street from being retail focused.

The papers state: "The Council is one of 100 areas that have been shortlisted for Stage 2 of the bidding process having been successful with its Stage 1 expression of interest (EOI), submitted in March 2019.

"The high level vision for the expression of interest was drawn from, and supported by, the Council's strategic plans particularly the Town Centre Masterplan. This funding will further enable the implementation of the masterplan, especially for Forge Island, markets and public realm."


The council papers show that the four main themes of the bid are:

- Redevelopment of Rotherham Markets that will include the relocation of the Central Library, a Community Hub and Food/Entertainment Court.
- The TCM identifies a number of residential development opportunities, creating an attractive Town Centre residential offer and in particular housing within the Forge Island development.
- Updating and re-imagining the Public Realm that links these sites, along with other key sites included in the TCM, and guides the Town’s footfall is seen as another key priority
- Facilitating the retention of Grimm & Co, an innovative literacy charity, by supporting their relocation to larger premises enhances a truly unique offer and visitor attraction in Rotherham's Town Centre, this would be 100% grant funded and would not have any revenue implications for the Council.

Remaining money from the Council's Town Centre Investment Fund (TCIF), set out in earlier budgets, is set to be used to match fund aspects of the bid. Just short of £8m of this pot is remaining and councillors are being asked to approve an additional £5m over the next four years to finance the proposals put forward in the business case.

Notification of successful bids and the value awarded will not be expected until Summer/Autumn 2020.

Rotherham Council has also been granted some capacity funding by the Government to assist a bid into the £3.6bn Towns Fund which aims to help to increase economic growth in 100 areas with a focus on regeneration, improved transport, better broadband connectivity, skills and culture.

Images: PWP / RMBC


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