Wednesday, September 6, 2023

News: Rotherham town centre pocket park plans submitted again


Rotherham Council has submitted another planning application for a pocket park in the town centre, nearly three years after it bought the site.

Rothbiz reported in February that delays and rising costs saw the authority cut ties with the appointed contractor for Snail Yard and instead, 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 has been left unfinished.

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. Amended plans were submitted in February, including space for pods as and when required, but taking out the scaffolding wall design element that would have created a central focal point on the adjacent building.

The latest set of plans show a steel staircase reinstated at the back of the park. This is opposite to the February plans which brought forward the boundary and removed the stairs from the design, adding that they were "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, told councillors at the end of 2022 about delays at Snail Yard, concluding that it was bringing the project back in house. He said at the time: "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."

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.

Across the town centre, another new area of proposed public realm has hit delays.

Planning permission was approved in June for a riverside park alongside the Forge Island development.

Using a mixture of soft and hard landscaping, Riverside Gardens will be a gateway to the heart of the town centre. It will offer residents a place to socialise and relax close to new amenities such as the Arc Cinema, a 69-roomed hotel, and a range of restaurants and bars on Forge Island, which is being delivered in partnership with nationwide placemaker, Muse.

The latest update from the council on Riverside Gardens states: "Following the outcome of the procurement exercise the project is undergoing a value engineering exercise and a subsequent procurement for the revised scheme. This will result in an expected delay of approximately six months."

The council's contractors, Tetra Tech (formerly WYG), have been leading on the scheme.

Images: RMBC


Anonymous,  September 6, 2023 at 12:55 PM  

So, they're spending £400,000 now to tidy up the site, and then planning to sell it in the future for residential?

The only winners with these hair brained schemes from RMBC seem to be the architects.

Why not just allocate it as residential and get something built on the site now? After all, that way it's not going to create another space that will attract anti-social behaviour.

Anonymous,  September 6, 2023 at 2:53 PM  

This is an example of corruption in any other country. The money just fritters away into peoples back pockets.

Jez September 6, 2023 at 2:54 PM  

The revised plans are now so small that it has been redisignated a pocket handkerchief park.

Jez September 6, 2023 at 4:25 PM  

Treading a fine line there Anonymous. One thing to allege incompetence, another to hint at corruption.

Anonymous,  September 6, 2023 at 6:33 PM  

£400000 for temporary grass and plants!!Here's an idea,why not acquire some of the containers that Sheffield used ,they giving them away,get some small business, eateries bars in em for couple years,better than wasting money on a park for gutter snipes!

Rothguy September 6, 2023 at 7:09 PM  

I feel this pocket part is unnecessary, you have the pocket park by the monster and one of the best parks in the country less than half a mile away.

To say it may be changed to residential at some point seems a waste of resources.

Jez September 6, 2023 at 8:10 PM  

You make a legitimate point but then can't resist being insulting.

Jez September 6, 2023 at 10:01 PM  

I don't think the Church looks that bad actually

Anonymous,  September 8, 2023 at 12:27 PM  

Jez,some of the people who frequent Rotherham town centre are lucky with the gutter snipe description,I know plenty who call them far worse ,!

Anonymous,  September 8, 2023 at 2:48 PM  

As a business owner in the town centre, these pocket park schemes are just a magnet for anti-social behaviour. Even in the church yard, supposedly one of the nicer bits of town, it's practically impossible to walk through it without seeing drug deals being done, booze consumed and a plenty of anti-social behaviour thrown in for good measure.

If RMBC can't look after the amenities they already have, building another makes very little sense to me. It's solving a problem that isn't there. But ask them about the real problems affecting town centre businesses e.g. Lack of parking, the fact that every road is just about closed at the moment, and they seem to bury their heads in the sand.

They just don't seem to get that the key to a prosperous town centre isn't using their powers to play monopoly with the buildings in the town centre, but to actually create an environment where small businesses can prosper.

The pocket park fiasco is yet another example of how this inept local authority gets it wrong time after town, yet no-one holds them to account. They should have never been taken out of special measures in view. They're not capable of making a good decision even it was dancing naked down wWstgate!

Jez September 8, 2023 at 8:00 PM  

To be fair, it's difficult to come up with a definitive answer on the dancing naked down Westgate issue.

Anonymous,  September 9, 2023 at 3:00 PM  

Didn't the Salvation Army Band once march naked down Westgate or am I mixing them up with another band?

Anonymous,  September 10, 2023 at 12:22 PM  

Great post. Do RMBC actually liaise with any of the businesses in the Town Centre?

Jez September 10, 2023 at 1:46 PM  

Have you been booting the gong?

Anonymous,  September 10, 2023 at 5:54 PM  

Don't think it was Westgate mate.May have been Wellgate

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