Friday, February 3, 2023

News: Council's pocket park plan scaled back


A plan for a pocket park in Rotherham town centre has been scaled back as the council wrestles with delays and rising costs.

The authority is no longer working with a contractor for Snail Yard and aims to bring the work in-house to get it completed.

Rotherham Council purchased the former Primark building on High Street in November 2020, using funding from the Towns Fund Accelerator programme after the Government awarded a £1m grant to kick start regeneration projects in Rotherham town centre.

Demolition work took place and the authority had set out to complete a pocket park by September 2021 before targeting the Women's Euros in July 2022.

The site remains unfinished and now an updated planning application shows that the pocket park plans have been ammended.

Previously approved plans were for the temporary use of the site for public space including the siting of three food & beverage pods and associated landscaping.

New plans show that the scaffolding wall design element to create a central focal point on the adjacent building has been removed as "this is no longer required following a change to the design."

The boundary has also been brought forward removing the stairs from the design. The plans add: "The stairs are no longer required; site has been made smaller to ensure funding can cover the cost of the development."

Tim O'Connell, Head of RiDO, the regeneration arm of Rotherham Council, discussed the delays at Snail Yard with councillors at the end of 2022. He said: "It has not happened anywhere near the speed that we wanted this to happen. It has been acquired and demolished but it hasn't been developed out as the pocket park that we wanted to do. We want to address that as quick as we possibly can.

"There have been challenges with the contracter that was appointed. A private sector contractor has had challenges around resources - it hasn't been able to allocate resources for what we needed to do in the timescales there. We haved moved away from that approach now and moving it in-house so we can deliver that scheme. We are looking to bring that forward as quick as we possibly can but we recognise that it has taken far longer than we wanted that scheme to happen."

Simon Moss, assistant director for planning, regeneration and transportation at Rotherham Council, added: "Obviously we have had some challenges over the last few years like everyone else, and some of that in terms of the construction market has flowed through to Snail Yard. We had some challenges with the contractor - it is difficult to get contractors to do relatively small schemes."

Galliford Try Infrastructure was appointed as contractor for the £400,000 landscaping works in February 2022 and funding was secured via the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA).

Longer term plans for the site include a residential led redevelopment that may incorporate the landscape scheme or part of it.

Images: RMBC


Anonymous,  February 3, 2023 at 1:52 PM  

Just a thought,but why not simply but a hoarding around site,bring plans forward to develop site.....AND STOP WASTING BLOODY MONEY ON A TEMPORARY PARK, WHEN THERES HUGE ONE JUST UP ROAD!

Ziggy,  February 3, 2023 at 2:50 PM  

Anyone involved in this project should be ashamed of themselves. Taxpayer money wasted on a vanity project. When we look down our noses at other countries and their "corruption" we should look at ourselves more closely. Why couldn't the council do this "inhouse" from the start. Pat yourselves on the back and take the wage with no end product - I'll save the PR team from endless tendering for a new tag line with that line.

Anonymous,  February 3, 2023 at 4:13 PM  

This is what a short sighted vision looks like folks. Squander away millions to create a big hole, so that they can put grass on it. Complete the scheme and then flog it to their pals for redevelopment. Absolute genius yet again from the good ship RMBC.

Any fool could have seen this scheme was a complete and utter white elephant. A lot of people, including myself, predicted that RMBC would be true to their past form and create a big hole in the town centre, only to run out of money before the project was completed.
The question that should be asked is: How much has RMBC spent on this? What penalties were exercised? Why were contingencies not considered?

And the big one... If its more cost effective NOW for RMBC to deliver the project, why didn't they do this from the start? Corruption and ineptitude of the highest order.

It's not like that hasn't happened on just about every construction project the council has been involved with, is it? Wonder how far they'll get with forge island... A single block of flats? A two screen instead of four screen cinema? Perhaps it will just be that unpopular container park in Sheffield, that appears to be looking for a new home.

To me, this is very simple: RMBC appointed someone to deliver a project they did not deliver. Therefore the money should have been retained by RMBC.

Serious questions need to be asked about the capability of RiDO and RMBC's planning officers. They're either: a) crooked to the core, or b) woefully inept.

Sadly, I suspect that it's probably a combination of the two.

The big question which begs is this: If the council is delivering this project now, they had the ability to do so from the start. So, why didn't they do that in the first place? Surely that would have been a more cost effective solution?

On a happier note though. A smaller pocket park will mean not as many druggies will be able to use it, so perhaps its not all bad news!

Anonymous,  February 3, 2023 at 5:55 PM  

As said above,why bother wasting money on a temporary park?Simply put site on market for development what they intend to do after wasting money,your money,on a pointless temporary park.RMBC are a joke,good at wasting money!

Anonymous,  February 4, 2023 at 1:25 PM  

Spare land, stick a warehouse on it its what RMBC does best

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