Tuesday, January 10, 2023

News: Burnt out buildings CPO to be discussed again


Rotherham Council is again considering a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) to finally deal with two large burnt out buildings in Rotherham town centre - nearly six years after it previously discussed using the same powers.

Negotiations have so far failed with the council stating that there is a "wide gulf between the landowner’s expectations on price and realistic values for the properties."

On the key route through town, the former Envy nightclub building, which suffered a malicious fire in 2007, and Muskaan restaurant, which was closed after a fire in 2011, have been left empty ever since, and whilst not structurally unsafe, the buildings are widely acknowledged to be an eyesore.

Council officers are hoping to gain Cabinet approval to acquire 3-7 Corporation Street using powers provided to enable acquiring authorities to compulsorily purchase land to carry out a function which Parliament has decided is in the public interest.

In this instance the buildings would be demolished and a private sector developer would be brought in to build a residential-led, mixed-use development, comprising of apartments with commercial space on the ground floor. The council has already secured funding to address the viability gap through the Town Deal and Levelling Up Funding.

The move would also address the existing issues of dereliction, create a significantly more attractive gateway into the town centre, support the masterplan aim to see more housing in the town centre, and support the Council's ambitions for the Leisure and Cultural Quarter to continue across the river from Forge Island to include sites on Corporation Street.

The issue was discussed back in 2017 when the Council said that a CPO was a "last resort." Since then, plans from owners for a 69 room hotel development to be built on the site have lapsed. The latest council report adds that "there have been no credible attempts to progress the plans with the owner recently advising that the scheme is not financially viable."

A report to the Council's cabinet states: "Attempts to engage with the landowner and bring schemes forward have been unsuccessful and there is no realistic prospect of coming to agreement in the foreseeable future. It is considered the Council needs to secure control of the site to deliver a scheme, otherwise it will not be possible to achieve economic growth and priorities to drive regeneration across the town.

"Attempts to assemble the necessary land by agreement are continuing, but timescales relating to the funding and the prior non-cooperation of the landowner mean that it is necessary to run the compulsory purchase process and continue negotiations with the affected landowner in parallel.

"Numerous attempts have been made to negotiate with the owner and agree a purchase price. A wide gulf between the landowner’s expectations on price and realistic values for the properties has meant agreement cannot be reached."

The CPO is described as the option that provides greatest certainty that the site will be redeveloped.

Cllr. Denise Lelliott, Cabinet Member for Jobs and the Local Economy at Rotherham Council, said: “These burnt-out buildings are situated in a prominent position in Rotherham town centre with the poor appearance of the site detracting from the appearance and vitality of the town, and this is having significant negative impact on the surrounding area.

“By looking to enact a Compulsory Purchase Order, we aim to redevelop the site for the benefit of residents and visitors to the town centre as part of our Town Centre Masterplan.”

Rotherham Council has been actively acquiring properties on Corporation Street, including the former Mecca bingo hall and the former Wilko's store, which has been earmarked as the site for a potential new theatre.

Images: Google Maps


Anonymous,  January 12, 2023 at 10:51 AM  

I don't want to be one of those people who are critical just for the sake of being critical but it's beyond a joke how long this is taking.

Anonymous,  January 12, 2023 at 12:07 PM  

About time too!

Anonymous,  January 13, 2023 at 12:35 PM  

Typical RMBC, too scared to deal with this in a correct timescale and more likely because of the owners involved. Had this been in London they’d have been flattened and built in years ago!

Anonymous,  January 16, 2023 at 3:20 PM  

Truly unbelievable! And frankly, I wouldn't be at all surprised if these eyesores are still standing in another 20 years. Only in Rotherham!

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