Tuesday, August 2, 2022

News: Meadowhall expansion plans scaled back again


A revised scheme at Meadowhall in Sheffield has been scaled back again, but it will still negatively impact on Rotherham, according to updated plans.

Rothbiz reported in 2020 that stalled plans for a new £300m, 330,000 sq ft Leisure Hall development at Meadowhall had been scaled back and that planners at Rotherham Council raised concerns over the negative impact of the proposals on a "fragile" Rotherham town centre and the proposed leisure-led regeneration scheme at Forge Island.

The updated plans from British Land show a reduced retail, food and beverage, cinema and leisure floorspace. The reduction in retail and leisure floorspace now has an overall proposed cap on such land uses down by 173,708 sq ft to that previously proposed, which was 278,785 sq ft.

One addition to the plans is that of a new 21,500 sq ft foodstore and they also exclude a change of use for a distribution unit where a seperate application has been submitted to enable the expansion of a trampoline park.

Discussions have continued with planners at Sheffield Council and applicants have included a number of studies on the impact of the latest proposals. They say that "under all scenarios / sensitivity testing the solus impact of the proposals on the vitality and viability of the City Centre [Sheffield] will be lower than that previously identified. The levels of impact remain limited and cannot be viewed as significant adverse."

The original leisure hall application has now expired. It was approved by Sheffield Council in 2018 despite an objection from Rotherham Council and an acknowledgement that it would "undoubtedly have a negative impact on Rotherham's town centre which is already in a fragile state."

The latest estimates are that the new revised scheme will negatively impact Rotherham town centre but to a lesser extant than the 2017 and 2020 proposals. The impact of the proposals on the turnover of Rotherham town centre is calculated at -0.2% in 2025. 2020 proposals had the figure at -0.8%.

Rotherham Council previously asked for further assessment as part of the Impact Tests to assess the impact of the Meadowhall development upon the vitality and viability of Rotherham town centre, the planned investment in the Forge Island site and existing investment across the remainder of the town centre in terms of the proposed retail and leisure uses.

Forge Island is a Council-owned site which sits between the River Don and South Yorkshire Navigation Canal. Led by Muse Developments, it will host a new leisure scheme with an 8-screen boutique style cinema, modern hotel, food and beverage (F&B) outlets and car parking. It is set to be completed in 2024.

The proponents of the Meadowhall scheme have been keen to state how its scheme is different to Forge Island, arguing that the new Meadowhall proposal is designed to be "more aspirational in order to set it apart" and that progress has been made in Rotherham despite the previous larger Meadowhall scheme being granted planning permission.

Forge Island already has the Arc Cinema and Travelodge signed up as anchor tenants with two restaurants closing in on pre-let agreements.

Planning consultants for Meadowhall have said that the current retail and leisure offer is not comparable to the current proposals at Meadowhall and that "town centre investment is coming forward and is well advanced in Rotherham (eg. Forge Island). This illustrates continued investor confidence."

Consultants say that food and drink market interest is determined largely on the secured cinema and add that: "the existing limited F&B offer in Rotherham town centre (particularly family-orientated facilities) also suggests there is notable demand for F&B uses subject to appropriate premises being provided that are supported by key anchor uses - such as that coming forward at Forge Island.

"There will be continued demand for F&B uses in Rotherham town centre, particularly alongside the anchor cinema use.

"There is nothing to suggest that the proposals at Meadowhall will have a significant adverse impact on planned investment in Rotherham town centre. This includes Forge island given the stage reached and the nature of the scheme."

Rotherham Council was preparing to object to the 2020 plans and as statutory consultees, are again being asked for their opinion on the revised plans for Meadowhall.

Meadowhall website
Forge Island website

Images: British Land


Anonymous,  August 2, 2022 at 5:13 PM  

Good to see that this has been reduced, but really it's a problem of RMBC's own making.

Why do people flock to Meadowhall and ignore Rotherham town centre (I hear the RMBC bigwigs ponder)? Five simple reasons that everyone seems to know except those who can actually do something about it: It's safe to visit, it doesn't stink of cannabis, parking is free, it's kept clean and well maintained, and everything doesn't close down at 5pm.

Perhaps rather than blaming Meadowhall, RMBC needs to take a long hard look at what it's doing in the town or more importantly what it's NOT doing. But don't forget folks, there's a cinema coming at some point this decade and that will solve all of the Rotherham's problems!

Anonymous,  September 26, 2022 at 2:46 PM  

Forge Island will be shut within 2 years of it opening. Who in there right mind would stay in a hotel in Rotherham? Who wants to go the cinema in an unsafe area? Have you ever been in that bus station after dark?

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