Thursday, October 26, 2023

News: Contractor lined up for delayed Rotherham public realm scheme


Rotherham Council looks to have found a way forward for a delayed public realm scheme having previously struggled to attract private sector contractors.

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

However, Rothbiz reported last month that the scheme had been pushed back six months as a procurement exercise failed to secure anybody to carry out the work. The project has undergone a value engineering exercise and procurement has been carried out for the revised scheme.

Using a mixture of soft and hard landscaping, Riverside Gardens is creating a gateway on an area extending from the demolished Riverside Precinct, covering the old abattoir site behind Market Street and passing the Old Market, Keppel Wharf and Westgate Chambers residential developments.

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.

Council papers show that the initial procurement excercise had four contractors interested but three dropped out during the process and the only one remaining came in "significantly over the advised cost." Issues include rising material costs and risks associated with the design.

Paul Woodcock, regeneration and environment director at Rotherham Council, said: "The tender was unsuccessful and is worth millions, smaller tenders worth thousands have also been unsuccessful. It is a very difficult market. We need to adapt to deliver schemes."

It now appears that the work required for Riverside Gardens has been wrapped together with other planned public realm improvements in the area designated as a Leisure & Cultural Quarter, to make it more appealing to the market.

Indeed, the council is now preparing to make a direct award of a contract to Humberside-based CR Reynolds for the work.

This would be the first stage of a two-stage design and build contract for the delivery of works in relation to Riverside Gardens, Corporation Street and Upper Millgate, to undertake detailed design and costing exercise. A Tender Evaluation Report would be produced for review by the council before a further decision would be made on proceeding with the contractor to stage 2 - construction.

An August 2024 start is envisaged so it is highly unlikely that the work will be completed in time for when Forge Island opens next year.

Accross town, a planning application from the council has been approved for a pocket park on the High Street, nearly three years after the authority bought the site.

Rothbiz reported in February that delays and rising costs saw the council 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. Further funding has been secured to continue the temporary park project.

Having taken out aspects of the design to save on costs, bringing back the work in-house has meant that things like the steel staircase at the back of the park can be reinstated, hence the need for a new planning application.

In approving the application, planning officers describe the plans as "a great opportunity to diversify the town centre and create new public realm" adding that: "Whilst, the proposed use is temporary only, it is considered to deliver on some key town centre masterplan aims of enhancing the leisure economy of the town centre."

In terms of potential anti-social behaviour, planning officers state that: "the site will be open and have a good level of natural surveillance and given its prominent location any issues should be minimal."

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

Images: RMBC / Tetra Tech / Google Maps


Anonymous,  October 26, 2023 at 12:30 PM  

More money being wasted on 'parks'that aren't required minster gardens just over road,riverside walk literally yards away,and huge park(Clifton)5 mins walk away....yet council waste valuable development space,what should be used for apartments/flats, they'd sooner concrete over green fields for housing.And of of course we've got the brown envelopes to contractors to do unneeded works, especially the pocket park ,what a waste of money!

Anonymous,  October 26, 2023 at 1:28 PM  

Speak for yourself, I'd rather them grass over it.

They wouldn't be quality flats and apartments, they'd be mini ghettos within 5 years and probably burnt out within 20. We all know the kind of tenants that would be attracted to living in Rotherham town centre. It would make the area worse, not better.

Anonymous,  October 26, 2023 at 11:29 PM  

What kind of tenants would that be?

Anonymous,  October 27, 2023 at 8:46 AM  

The kind of tenants that would turn it into a ghetto. The kind that generally live in or around the town centre already. You know the ones.

Anonymous,  October 27, 2023 at 3:51 PM  

That's councils fault,they are allowing poor quality apartments to be built,if you want an area to improve,you start by making it too expensive for the undesirable types you mention,by doing this the general population of the area becomes more wealthy,leading t quality bars, restaurants shops,and decline in poor quality ghetto take ways and shops Simple really,look at other town city centres, problem with Rotherham town centre is.. RMBC.

Anonymous,  October 27, 2023 at 6:15 PM  

Oh you mean immigrants and asylum seekers.

Anonymous,  October 27, 2023 at 6:50 PM  

It’s not that simple though is it? In fact you’d have to be pretty simple to think it is. Some larger cities are attractive to live in but in most towns, it’s generally the undesirables as you call them who live in and around the centre. Rotherham is no different.

Anonymous,  October 27, 2023 at 10:09 PM  

No I didn’t actually, but nice of you to jump to that conclusion.

Anonymous,  October 28, 2023 at 8:45 AM  

So, who did you mean then? I'm sure those families who have moved into town centre housing would be interested to find out why they are classed as undesirable.

Anonymous,  October 28, 2023 at 11:02 AM  

Make it too expensive lol ...keep taking the meds.

Anonymous,  October 28, 2023 at 12:36 PM  

If you don’t know then you must either never visit the town or stumble around with your eyes closed when you do.

Anonymous,  October 28, 2023 at 4:00 PM  

You were foaming at the mouth to accuse somebody of being a racist then weren’t you? I bet you’re gutted.

Anonymous,  October 29, 2023 at 6:31 AM  

You make a habit of snide references to "undesirables" bur lack the courage to spit out what you mean.

Anonymous,  October 29, 2023 at 9:12 AM  

It's always concerned me that these pocket parks will serve little more than to become a magnet for yet more anti-social behaviour.

RMBC Can't look after the open spaces in the town as it is. So why are they adding in more problems to the mix?

There seems to be a serious drug problem in the town centre and these developments will make it easier for the dealers to operate. Why can't RMBC see this?

Anonymous,  November 4, 2023 at 8:27 AM  

It's about time the undesirables were weeded from this site

Anonymous,  November 6, 2023 at 9:40 AM  

Lack the courage? I mean Chavs, Smackheads, drunks, thieves, scrubbers, regardless of nationality or race. Will that do for you?

If you haven’t noticed then in the town centre, then you’re either deaf and blind or just showing willful ignorance.

Anonymous,  November 7, 2023 at 8:11 AM  

We need more green spaces or pocket parks in the town
Well done Rotherham Council, you are doing a grand job.

Anonymous,  November 12, 2023 at 12:30 AM  

I hope they get a bonus.

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