Thursday, February 4, 2021

News: Council commits extra cash for Rotherham town centre


Rotherham Council is proposing to make up a funding shortfall to ensure that town centre regeneration schemes can be carried out as planned.

Rothbiz reported last month that £12.6m of Government funding has been allocated to help Rotherham transform its high street, but the bid to the Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) was only partially successful.

A provisional funding offer for £12,660,708 has been recieved but the authority had actually bid for over £18m.

The £17m Town Centre Investment Fund, which was established by the Council in 2017, is also set to be used alongside the Government money and, in setting out is budget for next year, offciers have included an extra £4.1m pot for the programme to help make up the shortfall.

The bid is for the redevelopment of Markets (cgi, above), the creation of high-quality Riverside Gardens linking the Forge Island redevelopment with the town centre, further public realm works, and the Grimm & Co redevelopment at Talbot Lane.

The aim is to diversify and enhance the quality of the town centre by supporting more leisure uses at Forge Island and the markets, and to significantly increase the town's appeal to residents, regular users and visitors (particularly families). The programme should also provide a more attractive investment proposition.

A cabinet paper explains: "The bid included £11,999,601 of Council capital from the Town Centre Investment Fund and £1,171,999 of grant from other sources to draw down £18,316,024 from the FHSF to deliver the programme.

"The proposal is for the Council to achieve savings on the markets redevelopment by reducing the amount of office space in the scheme and provide additional capital of up to £4,155,000 to allow the programme to be delivered.

"There is a reasonable prospect of some additional match funding being forthcoming from other sources which would reduce the draw on RMBC funding, however at the current time that external funding cannot be guaranteed and therefore cannot be used to confirm delivery of the scheme with MHCLG [the Government].

"The alternative is to remove and reduce further elements from the programme. This will reduce the outputs and outcomes and require recalculation of the benefit cost ratio. There is a significant risk with this approach that as a result the reduced programme will not deliver sufficient FHSF outputs to meet the Fund’s value for money threshold and the whole programme is therefore at risk of not being funded."

Any changes will need to be signed off by the Government and there are concerns over potential added costs connected to a complex redevelopment of the Markets.

In addition, a £163m capital programme also includes funding for town centre housing schemes, strategic acquisitions and demolition.

The council and its partners are waiting to hear regarding a bid for £25m from the Government's Towns Fund Programme.

If the Council’s Cabinet approves the plans, the report will be considered by Full Council on March 3 when the budget and Council Tax rates will be set.

Images: RMBC / Greig & Stephenson Architects


Mr me February 4, 2021 at 7:45 PM  

Just stop wasting money on towncetre "parks" aka druggie/wino zones, and leave areas as they are while developers aquire them for apartments. Never known a council waste so much money on airbrain schemes!

Anonymous,  February 7, 2021 at 8:53 PM  

I applaud the council for creating more green spaces. Much more attractive than rows of derelict buildings.

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