This report details the proposed redevelopment of the Rotherham Markets Complex and new library, located in the town centre of Rotherham, including an update on progress to date, a summary of the proposals, delivery programme, and sequencing. The report also seeks authority to award an enabling works contract.
Portfolio: Jobs and the Local Economy.
Directorate: Regeneration and Environment
The Chair invited the Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment to introduce the report. Referring to the scrutiny review undertaken by Improving Places Select Commission, he outlined the importance of the market to Rotherham as a historic market town. The markets supported 300 local businesses, as well as a programme of events, street markets and themed markets.
The market redevelopment was part of the Town Centre Masterplan agreed in 2017. The proposed relocation of the library emerged from the work undertaken for the new Library Strategy (2021-2026) and following consultation and engagement, it was identified that a more central location for the library was the preferred option. The report proposed enabling works in order that preparation could begin on site and mitigate against increasing costs. It was expected that the full scheme would be presented to Cabinet in November 2023.
The Chair invited the Chair of Improving Places Select Commission to speak to the report. It was acknowledged that market redevelopment may be challenging for traders, customers and the local authority. He thanked the Strategic Director for referencing the recommendations from the commission’s scrutiny review. He highlighted that it was critical that the food and beverage offer was developed; recognising that redevelopments worked better where the facilities were multiuse, including health and well-being and cultural events. The relocation of the library was felt to be key to this. It was also observed that the nearby student population was an opportunity to increase potential footfall.
The Chair invited questions and comments from Board Members and a discussion on the following issues ensued:
Further details were sought on opportunities to host alternative events such as artisan markets. In response, it was outlined that such examples would be part of the offer alongside supporting the existing business base. The proposals focused on the refurbishment and redevelopment of the current market site.
It was noted that since the introduction of the Thursday market, town centre shops had experienced greater footfall because of the trade that had been brought in. Further details were sought about the engagement with local traders and their views of the redevelopment/refurbishment plans. It was noted that financial support would be offered during the period of refurbishment to compensate for disruption and upheaval. It was outlined that traders had engaged with the design and concept work, with plans amended following feedback, including the introduction of a temporary market solution.
Further details were sought about the potential for social or evening events in the covered market. An example was given of evening events related to celebrations such as Ramadan and Eid which attracted communities that may not usually access the town centre. It was confirmed that the cultural events offer would be linked to the development to ensure that the flexible space could be used for different events and groups.
It was noted that a number of other towns and cities had recently refurbished their market complexes. Clarification was sought that local authorities had been contacted to establish if lessons could be learnt from their experiences. It was confirmed that this had been the case, in addition the Market Manager had contacted their equivalent in other local authorities and used feedback from their traders on the impact of redevelopment.
Further details were requested on how engagement had been conducted and examples were given of engagement with traders and the public. It was noted that the Market Manager would undertake ‘soft consultation’ through conversations with market traders. In terms of the library proposals, there have been extensive public engagement. An example was given of recent public consultation on the library offer and the outdoor space.
Further details were sought to clarify delegated authority. It was outlined that once approval for the enabling work had been given by Cabinet, the Strategic Director in consultation with the Section 151 Officer and Cabinet Member, could make decisions to ensure that the enabling work progressed.
As Members indicated that they wish to ask questions of Exempt Appendix 2, as resolved in minute 17, the meeting went into closed session.
A discussion on the following issues ensued:
· Commercial sensitivities and confidentiality;
· Inflationary pressures;
· Risks and mitigations.
The Chair re-opened the session.
1) That Cabinet be advised that the following recommendations be supported:
1. Note the progress to date on Rotherham Markets and Library redevelopment.
2. Approve the enabling works for the Rotherham Markets and Library development, as detailed in Appendix 2 of this report.
3. Delegate authority to the Strategic Director of Regeneration of Environment, in consultation with the S151 Officer and the Cabinet Member for Jobs and Local Economy, to award contract(s) for the works up to the values detailed in Appendix 2.