Wednesday, January 13, 2021

News: Why new green spaces are planned for Rotherham town centre


A number of regeneration projects in Rotherham town centre include demolishing buildings and creating green space on the cleared site. Now Rotherham Council has explained why.

A shrinking retail core is the key reason - with Rotherham town centre judged to have too much retail space.

The potential for building on the cleared land in the future was also cited.

At Forge Island, where a multimillion pound leisure development is going ahead with a new cinema, hotel and food & drink outlets, Council owned buildings on Corporation Street are being demolished to open up the site to the rest of the town centre. The site being cleared is expected to feature a 1,500 sq ft café in an open area called "Millgate Place."

Also nearby, the Council's Riverside car park is set to become "a playful green space connecting Forge Island with the heart of the town providing recreational space for residents and visitors," if funding can be found.

The masterplan also includes ideas for open space around the markets and college campus, close to the award-winning Clifton Park.

On the High Street, proposals have been submitted by the authority that cover the demolition of the vacant Primark buildings and the creation of a park.

The Council purchased the site using funding from the Towns Fund Accelerator programme. The Government awarded a £1m grant to kick start regeneration projects in Rotherham town centre and a bid for more funding, possibly £25m, is being submitted this month.

When asked about the Primark proposals at a recent Council meeting, Paul Woodcock, strategic director, Regeneration and Environment at Rotherham Council, said: "Part of the Town Centre Masterplan and the approach is to shrink the amount of retail footprint.

"Most town centres are seeing that, now with more online, COVID has accelerated that and Rotherham having lots of empty voids, it is felt that we need a smaller footprint for retail in the main, repurposing other buildings for other uses such as residential, leisure uses such as Forge Island, and so forth, and therefore Primark forms part of that in terms of shrinking the retail and improving that area, smartening it up and having some nice open space that could be permanent, or could be temporary, because you could put something on in future years should there be a desire and need to do so."

The masterplan made it clear that retail is not the answer as the focus shifts to other town centre uses such as leisure and housing.

The long term ambition for the Primark site is as residential use but the recent application enables a park to be in place for five years, allowing for housing plans to be drawn up and for funding to be found.

Town centre trader, Rob Felstead, called on the council to repurpose the vacant building to generate footfall - possibly as a new home for the central library.

Cllr. Denise Lelliott, Cabinet Member for Jobs and the Local Economy at Rotherham Council, said: "The Primark building was chosen by the Town Centre Fund Board, which is made up of businesses, to be put forward, not just as a small project. With not much wasteland at the back it will open up that area and actually, the George Wright building will actually be seen by people and more easy access which I think will be a good thing.

"We are shrinking retail because all over the country town centres are facing problems as people shop online ... we are ahead of the curve with our independents and putting housing back in the town centre to repopulate it. Again this can only be a good thing."

Mr Felstead also reitereated concerns over problems of crime and antisocial behaivour in town.

Images: RMBC / PWP / Muse


Graldhunter January 13, 2021 at 2:04 PM  

Wow, what a fabulous idea. More green spaces for street drinkers, spice addicts and other high-fliers to congregate, defecate and urinate. Simply fabulous RMBC 😜😜😜

Unknown January 13, 2021 at 3:13 PM  

Doesn't it sound wonderful, this will really clear the town out of decent people once they've seen the types it will attract.

Ziggy,  January 13, 2021 at 3:24 PM  

I don't think the independent retailers would agree that the council are ahead of the curve...

old git January 13, 2021 at 6:50 PM  

it seems thaat everyone here is in agreement...

"More green spaces for street drinkers, spice addicts and other high-fliers to congregate, defecate and urinate"


Anonymous,  January 13, 2021 at 11:12 PM  

Green space in the town centre but massive warehouses and truck stops next and near to already established homes in Hellaby/Bramley I hate Rotherham Council with a passion.

royherbert January 14, 2021 at 1:21 AM  

It leaves me with a few questions if the town center retail is dwindling why are retail units being incorporated in the Waverley development, surely they should be encouraged to visit Rotherham town center businesses first? And why is the money being spent on a green space on the Primark site when the funding is not in place for the forge island greenspace development plan?
And we are again behind our other local authorities when Barnsley are to open a multi-million-pound shopping development and it takes years for us to open a single cinema. Hang your heads in shame RMBC

Mr me January 14, 2021 at 2:10 AM  

They haven't got a clue. If you demolish a building, get apartments built on site. When will they realise WE DON'T NEED MORE GREEN SPACE, WE HAVE BLOODY CLIFTON PARK VIRTUALLY IN TOWN CENTRE, AND CANAL WALK!!!!!!

Anonymous,  January 14, 2021 at 2:14 AM  

Let's hope they fail in bid for more government money, it will be better spent by other towns, with forwarded thinking councils, like Barnsley and Doncaster!

Unknown January 14, 2021 at 10:00 AM  

Yet another example of how the wonderful RMBC representative idiots think,why did everyone move to Parkgate for shopping? Simple,free parking!As soon as free parking was available at Parkgate and more people were attracted, more and more shops moved out of Rotherham to Parkgate. Are they really so thick? Instead of all this green space give us more free parking in Rotherham and watch the shoppers and the shops move back. RMBC are more interested in grabbing money off the shoppers and charging the shops high rates.

Anonymous,  January 14, 2021 at 11:08 AM  

if green space is good enough for Paris then its good enough for Rotherham!

Anonymous,  January 14, 2021 at 7:45 PM  

The council are correct in their assessment that there is an abundance of empty retail space and are right to reduce this and improve the area with green space. Rotherham is never going to the shopping centre it was, and with the rise of online shopping accelerated by the Covid pandemic this will only deminish further. Town centres need to adapt to survive. Rotherham council should be applauded for attempting regeneration.

Anonymous,  January 15, 2021 at 4:03 PM  

Planting trees and grass and putting benches there for street drinkers and druggies to congregate, isn't regeneration of town centre, its actually further degregation of town centre. RMBC ain't got a clue. Government should stop awarding grants to waste money on crap.

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