Tuesday, November 29, 2022

News: Meadowhall expansion set for approval despite Rotherham objections


A revised expansion scheme at Meadowhall in Sheffield is being recommended for approval despite planners saying it would be a "particular risk" to the regeneration of Rotherham town centre which is described as "increasingly fragile and vulnerable."

British Land has scaled back plans to expand the out-of-town shopping centre and the latest application includes space for indoor leisure, food & beverage sales and general retail including a supermarket.

A number of proposed conditions would be attached to the approval, including no floorspace to be occupied before 1 November 2029, a restriction in the types of goods that can be sold and a "no poaching" condition. The proposals are designed to mitigate the impacts of the proposed Meadowhall development on Sheffield city centre and Rotherham town centre.

According to 2019 customer survey data, the majority of visitors to Meadowhall originated from within South Yorkshire (38% Sheffield; 25% Rotherham; 10% Barnsley; 5% Doncaster).

The applicant’s analysis indicates that quantitatively, in the worst-case scenario, in 2030 Rotherham’s trade in convenience goods (-0.3%), comparison goods (-0.4%) and food & beverage (-0.6%) would be lower than it would have otherwise been as a consequence of the proposed development.

Rothbiz reported last week that Rotherham Council is objecting to the Meadowhall expansion again based on it having a "significant adverse impact upon the vitality and viability of Rotherham town centre" and on the "planned investment in the Forge Island site and also existing investment across the remainder of the town centre."

A report to the planning board at Sheffield Council admits that the new leisure, food & beverage uses and larger cinema at Meadowhall "is a particular risk to the stated objective of addressing Rotherham Town Centre’s current issues with a lack of trade draw through diversification of the Town Centre to provide a better leisure and food & beverage offer."

Ground work began at Forge Island last month after Rotherham Council's cabinet rubber-stamped a financial deal to fund the up front costs for the transformational scheme. It includes a state-of-the-art cinema, a 69 room hotel, and six restaurants.

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.

The applicants argue: "Rotherham town centre is focused on the lower end of the market, which has a limited overlap with the proposals at Meadowhall … Fundamentally, the retail and leisure offer in Rotherham is not comparable to the current proposals at Meadowhall. Any impact on the vitality and viability of Rotherham town centre (particularly given the investment that is coming forward) will not be significantly adverse.

"Key planned investment in Rotherham at Forge Island is well advanced and is coming forward in the full knowledge of the proposals at Meadowhall. This includes securing the key anchor cinema use. This demonstrates the limited impact of the proposals on Meadowhall and the different role and function the two locations serve. The ongoing investment at Forge Island, or elsewhere in Rotherham, will not be significantly impacted upon."

The planner's report adds: "It is accepted that the trade impacts on Rotherham Town Centre are likely to be relatively low, given the limited extent to which the Town Centre can compete for visitors on a like for like basis with the proposed expanded leisure, food & beverage and retail offer at Meadowhall. However, it is also important to consider the qualitative issues, as the proposal will undoubtedly make Meadowhall an even more attractive destination for comparison goods shopping, food and drink, cinema and other leisure uses in a location which is in close proximity to (and highly connected to) Rotherham Town Centre. Furthermore, there are clear signs that Rotherham Town Centre is increasingly fragile and vulnerable due to significant competition from out-of-centre provision, limited retail and leisure offer, high and rising vacancy levels and declining footfall.

"It is acknowledged that the fact that Rotherham lacks a comparable retail and leisure offer to Meadowhall, to a degree, serves to limit the direct impact of the Meadowhall proposals. It is also considered unlikely that the proposal will result in the loss of the important investment opportunity at Forge Island - which will have the potential to claw-back some of the food and drink / cinema trade "lost" to Meadowhall. Due to this and other investments (including from Towns Fund funding) it also appears to be a realistic possibility that the Town Centre will see improvements to its own leisure-based offer and overall health before the proposed Meadowhall extension would come forward in 2029.

"Overall, based upon the different nature of the appeal of Rotherham Town Centre as opposed to the proposed expanded and improved Meadowhall offer, together with the evidence contained in the quantitative and qualitative impact assessments which have been submitted, and also giving consideration to the reduced potential maximum quantum of leisure and food & beverage floorspace comprised within the current application vs. the previous (lapsed consent), it is considered that the proposed development is unlikely to have a significant adverse impact on the vitality and viability of Rotherham Town Centre."

Despite an objection from the owners of The Moor in Sheffield, planners add that short-term impacts of the development when it opens after November 2029 can be withstood by Sheffield City Centre. They acknowledge that the current proposals have been substantially reduced from those which were approved in 2018, but have now expired, and conclude that the mitigation proposed should be effective in substantially reducing the impacts of the proposed development.

The report concludes: "Subject to the impact mitigation proposed by the applicant being secured through appropriately worded planning conditions and obligations, it is accepted that there is no reasonable basis to conclude that the proposed development would have a substantial adverse impact upon the vitality and viability of any City, Town or District Centre within the catchment areas or any existing, committed and planned public and private investment in those centres."

Meadowhall website
Forge Island website

Images: British Land


Anonymous,  November 29, 2022 at 3:15 PM  

Of course it will affect Forge Island. The reason Rotherham is empty is mainly due to Meadowhell and Parkgate. To say otherwise is disingenuous

Anonymous,  November 29, 2022 at 4:17 PM  

Did anyone really think that Sheffield would take notice of Rotherham?

Anonymous,  November 29, 2022 at 4:24 PM  

If only Sheffield could be destroyed by a nuclear attack without it effecting Rotherham...I hate the place and the deluded citizens that live there ,who think Sheffield is somewhere if importance!

Anonymous,  November 30, 2022 at 6:02 PM  

Rotherham regeneration??? At the expense of smaller towns and villages! Luckily in our little town we're far enough from Meadowhall for it not to really affect us, but Rotherham is stripping our town of necessary funding and rejecting largescale planning applications for regeneration!
So good luck to Meadowhall, kick them where it hurts, in Rotherhams councillors pockets!

Anonymous,  November 30, 2022 at 11:15 PM  

Pathetic, just like your obvious lack of education given the SPAG in your hateful comment. However, I wouldn’t say that was true of ALL people in Rotherham. The fact that you make this comment about ALL people in Sheffield - when it is a business group expanding a viable investment and nothing to do with the people of Sheffield themselves - just shows how ignorant, sad and full of hate you are.

Anonymous,  December 1, 2022 at 3:23 AM  

Bit of a Bizzare comment if your actually a citizen of Rotherham!

Anonymous,  December 1, 2022 at 9:25 AM  

All RMBC care about is Forge Island, how many warehouses they can cram onto peoples doorsteps town centre green spaces (bit of a mixed message that one!).

Anonymous,  December 1, 2022 at 6:50 PM  

To anyone outside whenever they hear the word Rotherham their first thought is CSE scandal. It will be a long time before this image is forgotten and anyone seriously invests. Add that to the fact that a lot of areas around the centre are more or less no go areas that don't feel safe and parking at out of town venues is free.

Anonymous,  December 2, 2022 at 11:34 AM  

Plus the night time economy has pretty much moved to Wickersley, Forge Island won't change that!

Anonymous,  December 3, 2022 at 11:30 PM  

Don’t understand why they are risking to do this by making difference to Meadowhall, would be better off just leave it how it is and forget planning on it in future cos by the time if they do, I won’t be shopping there anymore as I’ve been going there for 24 years and always love the same how it is.

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