Thursday, May 21, 2020

News: Historic England unhappy with Forge Island plans


Historic England has raised concerns with the recently submitted proposals for the game-changing Forge Island mixed-use destination in Rotherham town centre.

Rothbiz reported in March on the planning application from Council partners, Muse Developments, which set out in detail that the site of the former Tesco store is set to be home to an eight screen cinema, a 69 bed hotel, four restaurants and car parking.

Historic England is the Government's expert advisor on England's heritage and the body has a statutory role in the planning system.

Overall, the response to the multimillion pound redevelopment is positive in that Historic England sees the development combined with the associated public realm and highways work as having the potential to have "a positive impact upon the built environment and quality of place in this part of the town centre."

However, the body is raising concerns about the impact of the proposed demolitions in the wider scheme.

The application confirms that the Council-owned Riverside Precinct and the Equity Chambers building on Corporation Street are to be demolished to make way for a 1,500 sq ft café in an open area called "Millgate Place."

EDITOR'S NOTE MAY 23: It appears that the documents submitted with the application by the consultants, and quoted in this article, are making reference to the wrong building being demolished.

The documents, and responses from Historic England and the council, all reference Equity Chambers, but the maps submitted with the application show that it is the Chantry Buildings at 8-18 Corporation Street (pictured) that are proposed for demolition.

The official response to the plans from Historic England, states: "Equity Chambers is a decent example of 1920s Art Deco commercial architecture. Although in itself it is not of great heritage significance in a national context, its value lies in the definition and sense of enclosure it provides to Corporation Street and the scale of the building complements the other buildings within the area.

"The boundary of the conservation area has been specifically drawn to include Equity Chambers and it has therefore been judged to contribute to the special interest of the area. The proposal is to demolish the building and leave a large area of public realm.

"Whilst we understand that a degree of open space is required to create the views through to the Minster, we are concerned that the extent of openness proposed will dilute the built form of the conservation area. Furthermore, the rationale for further public open space at Millgate Place, so close to Minster Gardens, does not seem to justify the loss of built form in this location. We recommend consideration is given to reinstating a building on the Corporation Street frontage for part of the site."


Applicants say that, whilst Equity Chambers is relatively prominent, the building fabric is in poor aesthetic condition and the heritage value of the building is limited. The application adds that its demolition will have a neutral impact on the significance, or character or appearance of the Conservation Area.

The demolition of the Riverside Precinct buildings and pedestrian bridge are set to "provide opportunities to secure enhancement" and the proposed open space to Corporation Street is designed to improve the visual character of the approach to the town centre, open out views onto Rotherham Minster and compliment Minster Gardens.

An initial response from the council's planning and conservation officer, states: "I note that Historic England in their response have raised concerns about the loss of Equity Chambers on Corporation Street. I note that they are concerned about the loss of these buildings creating a large gap within the Town Centre Conservation Area which could be harmful to its overall appearance and the setting of the Minster.

"My view is this could be largely mitigated by the construction of new buildings in block Site B to the south. However, whilst they are raising concerns I do not think that the loss of Equity Chambers should prevent the redevelopment of this site or to change the overall design concept of the scheme.

"The loss of this building would represent less than substantial harm to Rotherham Conservation Area and public benefit by way of regeneration of the Town Centre could easily be demonstrated to justify any harm to the Conservation Area from the loss of this building. As such, I am reluctant to raise any formal objections to the loss of this building in Conservation terms at this stage."

The potential buildings on site B would be residential buildings, up to five storeys high, on the riverside car park site between Corporation Street an the river.

Images: Muse / FaulknerBrowns / Google Maps


Mr me May 21, 2020 at 12:02 PM  

My god, dose these organisations simply wait to try and scupper everything in Rotherham? First it's the eyes sore that is Guest and Chrimes building that they scupper development with now this crap building, sure these organisations don't have Sheffield, Barnsley and Doncaster councillors on em, cos it's bizzare how other towns pull buildings down and build,but there's always an issue in Rotherham, a place that frankly needs more demolition than most. I'd start with wellgate, from the old burnt out masons pub alway to old bank of Scotland, quarter of a mile of crappy rundown buildings only in Rotherham do we see these sort of building right into town centre. But hey this is Rotherham, I rest my case 🤔

Anonymous,  May 21, 2020 at 12:08 PM  

I do agree to an extent. Dose Rotherham Town centre need anymore open spaces, loads around minster and canal side and how many towns have a huge park (clifton) virtually in town centre.As building land is becoming scarce and lore valuable, surely this land would be developed with an apartment block, more income for council, extra properties to rent and less need to build on greenfield sites.

Anonymous,  May 21, 2020 at 2:24 PM  

Just for information - the photograph accompanying this article is not of Equity Chambers - Equity is the block above (Smith Brothers)

Anonymous,  May 21, 2020 at 4:09 PM  

LOL. The application document says Equity Chambers is getting demolished but the maps with it show that it's the Chantry Buildings that are going. You'd think they'd know which one they plan to knock down...

Anonymous,  May 23, 2020 at 9:25 AM  

Rotherham MBC has a track record of allowing beautiful buildings to be destroyed so I welcome any intervention.

Most cities manage to preserve their heritage and yet still innovate. Why can’t Rotherham?

I fear it’s all academic anyway since the rent/rates demanded for the new builds will probably result in prohibitively high prices to the consumer.

Anonymous,  May 25, 2020 at 12:28 AM  

Rotherham needs the wrecking ball.

Dan H May 28, 2020 at 11:37 PM  

It's not the buildings, it's the people that frequent town that's the problem. Ask the Slovak Gypsies, drunks and druggies what they'd like building.

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