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Rotherham's tales from the riverbank

posted 19 Apr 2010, 00:55 by RiDO Rotherham
The Rotherham stretch of the River Don has already undergone a major facelift – and there’s much more to come, some of it already in the pipeline.

Take the 25-year £2bn Rotherham Renaissance programme. Transforming the town centre as part of Yorkshire Forward’s region-wide Renaissance Towns programme and driven forward by the Borough Council, the programme has already had a massive impact on the town’s riverscape.

To boost the town centre, the council has offered a new package of grants to help new independent retailers relocate there, and some niche-type existing ones to expand. For eligible companies, the package offers half the first year’s rent and a quarter of the second year’s, where the annual rent is up to £25,000. 

Liverpool-based developer Iliad’s £37m All Saints’ Quarter is part of the Renaissance regeneration and is progressing quickly – with two of the projects already complete between the Don and the town centre. 

All Saints’ Quarter comprises up to five developments, which will provide 154 new apartments and around 100,000 sq ft of mixed commercial, retail, leisure and office accommodation.

Restoration to the Edwardian Grade II listed Imperial Buildings with riverside views was completed in December. Its 19 apartments are the first contemporary apartments in Rotherham town centre, with most are already sold and 10 occupied. Iliad is now in negotiation with several potential occupants for the 17,000 sq ft of retail space with glass frontages, internal galleries and arcade.

The award-winning Old Market development is also complete, creating 44 apartments available for sale or rent above 7,000 sq ft of ground-floor retail space and 41 underground car parking spaces.

The one, two and three bedroom apartments are priced at between £85,000 and £150,000. All apartments are finished to a high standard and pent house apartments include terraces overlooking either the River Don or the picturesque Minster Yard.

And right on the bank of the Don, Iliad’s Keppel Wharf will complete next month, bringing another 53 apartments and further business space to this area of town. 

Two very different but linked waterside developments have also opened on the edge of the town centre.

Beside the Don, the £11m Rotherham Leisure Complex opened in October, part of a PFI that, at £35m, is the biggest of kind in the country.

And beside the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Canal, health services have improved since the £12m NHS drop-in centre opened in January 2009.

The director of the council’s planning and regeneration service, Paul Woodcock, said: “The town centre renaissance is mirroring the massive regeneration that has already transformed the rest of this 110-sq-mile borough. It’s great to see new buildings and investment here.” 

Changing the borough’s prosperity for generations to come has been one of the key motivations behind the partners’ ambitions for Rotherham.

Paul Woodcock said: “Rotherham is embracing a rich cultural, social and architectural history to maximise the advantages offered by the town and although this doesn’t happen over night, with projects finished already improving leisure, health, retail, working and living, we hope that local people are really starting to see and believe that change is occurring.”

In the north of the borough, at Manvers, Anglo-Dutch TCN UK is celebrating its completion of two more major deals at the 285-acre Waterfront mixed-use development at Manvers Lake.

The signings – with Taylor Wimpey and Aldi food stores – add to the number of successful Waterfront projects.

The deal with the UK’s biggest house builder, Taylor Wimpey, will allow the creation of 202 new homes beside the 50-acre sailing lake. In total, there will be 689 homes, including apartments.

The second deal is with expanding food store operator Aldi, to create a 14,000 sq ft food store along with 8,000 sq ft of kiosk retail units.
TCN director Stephen Holme said: “This is an exciting start to 2009. With all this doom and gloom around it’s great to see so much activity on the site. Not only are we bucking the trend, but we are progressing this unique mixed-use development which has taken over five years of work to bring to this stage.”

The past 24 months have seen TCN push ahead with remarkable transformations of the former coalfield wasteland. They include: 
Construction of a 130-room Radisson Park Inn, due for completion in June 
The completion of the Marston’s family pub
The completion of the British Canoeing Union’s Olympic Training Club, which becomes fully operational  next spring
The completion of the nine-hole pay-and-play golf course, clubhouse and driving range, now operational
Planning permission for a 6,000 sq ft KFC drive-through restaurant

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for regeneration and development, Cllr Gerald Smith, welcomed the new signings: “This would be excellent news at any time, but in the current climate it’s a vote of confidence in Rotherham’s opportunities for business and proof that well-founded developments can still make progress.”

Stephen Holme said: “The story doesn’t end here. With a further 40 acres to develop and planning approval for a further 350 houses, leisure, retail and business space, Waterfront has many opportunities available for all types of companies looking to be located on this unique scheme.”