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Agenda item

Rotherham Town Centre Masterplan


The Chair introduced Councillor Lelliott, Cabinet Member for Jobs and the Local Economy who introduced this presentation which formed an overview  of the Town Centre Masterplan and following the consultation the process of moving forward.


Officers from RiDO gave a PowerPoint presentation which drew specific attention to:-


·                Masterplan Overview and the Approach.

·                Shaping Strategy.

·                Masterplan Recap.

·                Forge Island.

·                Riverside Residential.

·                Indoor and Outdoor Covered Markets and the view from Drummond Street.

·                Guest and Chrimes.

·                Bus Interchange and Multi-Storey Car Park.

·                Streets and Spaces for Improvement.

·                Results of the Consultation.

·                Town Centre Transformation – Achievements and Progress.

·                Forge Island Development Timetable and Flood Defences.

·                Markets Investments.

·                Public Realm.


A discussion and a question and answer session ensued and the following issues were raised and clarified:-


·                Welcomed investment into the town centre and the need for quality developments with the impacted businesses given adequate notice.


Careful consideration would be given to developments to ensure future problems did not occur.  Some business were affected and any relocation would be supported to the benefit of the town centre.


·                The need for good quality well designed buildings in the town centre to replace those lost.


This would be controlled by the development agreement and written into the agreement to control quality and design.  The end product had to be high quality and attractive from a user point of view and include linking through to Forge Island and the Minster Gardens.


·                The shaping strategy referred to quality drinking.  It was hoped the right balance of establishment could be easily managed and for this to be family orientated to prevent the risk of anti-social behaviour.


The phraseology could have been better.  The plan was for more leisure and food outlets.  This was very much a quality family destination not a set of bars. The competition stage 1 tenders had been sent out inviting a number of developers to come to stage 2 and the elements would be a mix of competitive features and not just one developer or design.


·                Shopping was not always the answer.  Were there any plans to reduce the shops around town to avoid sprawling gaps.


The town centre was too large and drawn out with Tesco at the one end of the high street. This would form part of the Local Plan to look to shrink the town centre from Wellgate and reclassify as part of the Local Plan adoption.


·                If Rotherham was to become a Child Centred Borough how was this reflected in the master plan.


Young people had been included as part of the consultation and generally liked the ideas, especially for the cinema.  The Interchange had been  highlighted as an area of concern and this had been taken on board as part of the redevelopment.


·                Delivery of the photo montages, especially for the market, would set Rotherham on the map, but was there concern about competition from developers from areas like Sheffield.


Sheffield was a city and had high quality public realm, some of which was the best in the country.   Every effort would be made to get the right level of quality and design for Rotherham.  Cost had to be taken on board for initial capital and maintenance.  Rotherham was different and there were plenty of developers looking for opportunities.


Whilst every effort would be made to seek a building depicted by the photo montage for the markets, it had to be DDA compliant and it had been agreed that the Guardian Centre would be demolished and the whole area opened up.


·                Planning permission had been granted for residential development with some retail for Westgate Chambers which was objected to by 1915 Bar due to its close proximity.


It was a fantastic opportunity for the redevelopment of Westgate Chambers with 62 residential units.  Adequate soundproofing would be required given the proximity of the public house.


·                Was there any inclusion of other town centres throughout the Borough including in this masterplan.


Invitations had gone out to the market for the redevelopment of Swinton and it was not certain about other outlaying town centre areas.  However, officers were happy to look at other project areas.


Other town centre development could be added to the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board’s work plan and prioritised in due course.


·                Rotherham had to compete with big developments like Meadowhall who were a private concern and had to offer something completely different to other areas.  Could areas of historic interest be incorporated such as the Guest and Chrimes site as part of the redevelopment.


The Council had successfully acquired Forge Island, the Magistrates Courthouse and the bridge and officers were working hard to get the best offer for Rotherham off the ground.  Leases had also been secured for the cinema.  The consultation feedback had also highlighted the need for a different landscape to places like Meadowhall and were to focus on keeping the masterplan local for local people who were excited about the future.


·                There was a need for a clear communication strategy to advise the public on which buildings would be demolished, about the relocation of the Interchange and evidence of the landscape moving forward.  The advertising hoardings would tell Rotherham’s story.


The advertising hoardings were being designed following a visit to Barnsley and to learn how best to be proactive in getting the message out across the Borough.  A task and finish group had also been set up regarding the town centre communication strategy.


The Town Centre Marketing Sub-Group had produced some information.  This would be circulated by email to Members.


·                Could the 2019 public realm proposals be shared in due course.


Public realm 2019 was being considered as part of the task and finish group public realm.  These issues were important and would be shared at the earliest opportunity.


Resolved:-  (1)  That Councillor Lelliott and the officers from RiDO be thanked for their informative presentation.


(2)  That information relating to the communication plan be circulated by email to Members.


(3)  That feedback from the consultation process be incorporated into designs as much as possible


(4)  That consideration be given to developing plans for other town centres across the Borough and for this to be included within the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board’s work plan in due course.