Monday, January 24, 2022

News: Early stage plans for live music venue at Guest & Chrimes site


Regenerating the historic Guest & Chrimes site in Rotherham has always been a tough gig, and now new concepts are being talked about in hushed tones.

Partners are working in harmony to finely tune ideas that would give music fans something to cheer at the derelict site. Topping the bill is a potentially unique venue with a capacity of up to 800, including a festival area.

Rothbiz reported last year that the plan for the Grade-II listed site was to use £4.5m of Town Deal funding to create a micro-brewery and fan zone at the former foundry which sits alongside Rotherham United's New York Stadium.

Described by those working on the proposals as a special site, previous plans have been hampered by high costs and the Grade-II listing.

With the backing of the Towns Fund, the development of a new building and new public spaces on the site could see 16,000 sq ft of new commercial space created alongside 0.26 hectares of new public realm.

The historic frontage was demolished following a fire but new plans would save the landmark water tower and address the existing building.

Consultants brought in to work up the scheme are talking with a brewery and venue operator, and the football club, who are said to be "on board with the plans."

Council minutes explain that the proposals include looking at the existing building (the tower being Grade II listed) as a venue with a capacity of up to 800, to include a festival area. Used as a fan zone on matchdays, this could include a micro-brewery and a coffee bar by day and music / entertainment in the evening.

Simon Moss, assistant director for planning, regeneration and transportation at Rotherham Council, updated councillors on the site at the end of 2021. He said: "It has been a long-standing challenge, I think it is fair to say. The Guest & Chrimes building is a really interesting site, a huge amount of affection I think, and pride, in the heritage of the building, with good reason. But challenges, for sure, about what's the right kind of use for that site sitting in between the football club and the council offices. Challenges around how you address the heritage challenges whilst also trying to design a viable scheme.

"There's some very early concept images following the Towns Fund based around a fan zone which will be complementary to the football club and complementary to the town centre in terms of that leisure economy. Also thinking about potential music venue space and different options that could come together to try and make a development viable on that site."

Levelling Up Funding has also been secured for the area to deliver a riverside walk and improved public realm alongside new housing developments and a new bridge [potentially a Bailey bridge] to link Sheffield Road to the Guest & Chrimes site.

Empty since 1999, the site was purchased by Rotherham Council for £2.6m from developers, Evans in 2010 and is now controlled by the football club which has a very long lease from the Council.

English Heritage (now Historic England) "strongly objected" to 2012 plans to demolish the former factory and an application to "de-list" the Guest & Chrimes building was submitted in 2019.

The firm manufactured sluice valves, fire hydrants and water meters, and following a very large order from Spain, the company moved to the present site in 1857. The significance of the complex was deemed greater than previously thought, given the importance of brass manufacturing to Rotherham.

Towns Fund schemes are set to be completed in 2024.

Images: RMBC / Google Maps


Anonymous,  January 24, 2022 at 11:15 AM  

Good idea,why not simply make this the town's new theatre,with an 800 capacity would be able to get on the circuit of tours ,comedians ect .

Anonymous,  January 24, 2022 at 11:41 AM  

Yes well said

Anonymous,  January 24, 2022 at 11:45 PM  

A venue which can be used throughout the year, but also improve the match day experience. Shame it wont be in place for the Euro's. Also a nice link to Rotherham with the Bailey bridge.

Anonymous,  January 25, 2022 at 5:30 AM  

The proximity to the stadium would cause issue's on match days I'd assume, noise, swell of people leaving/ entering.... surely the empty mecca bingo site would be better placed for a new theatre?

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