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Rotherham's Future

business imageNow I know that looking into the future is an uncertain science best left to clairvoyants and fortune-tellers. However Central Government under parties of all colours, require Local Authorities to do their bit for Forward Planning, and these appear as the Rotherham Local Development Framework. I believe that there have been several of these documents over the last few years: tomes that have used up several forests, if the size of Rotherham's efforts has been repeated throughout the country.

Basically the Rotherham Local Development Framework looks at what Rotherham Council plan to do with Rotherham over the coming years. What they will do, what they intend to do, what they may do, what they hope to do and what they would like to do; all of course depending on available funds. I found two major omissions both of which bothered me greatly. The first of these was my hoary old hobby horse; the lack of parking provision; and the second the lack of public toilet provision which gets more pressing as the years advance. The three 'Core Strategy Options' all of which involve massive house building are based on this.

Rotherham have signed up to the Government's Growth Point Status which requires them to build massive numbers of houses in the next 20 years. In order to do this Rotherham Council need to to remove the 'Green Belt' designation from large areas all across the borough. The purpose of this is to use the various parcels of land to develop housing estates, and in some places business parks and manufacturing units. The council obviously hoped to pass things on the nod as the inhabitants of most of Rotherham were none the wiser. However in July 2009 the proposal to develop a great swathe of land from Thornhill to Greasbrough and Rawmarsh called Bassingthorpe Farm has been the subject of a series of public meetings. Other public meetings took place in July 2009 about development in other areas.

The new Conservative/Liberal Democrat government in 2010 have said that they intend to scrap all such developments countrywide. Personally I thought that these plans would never come to fruition, given the colossal costs required for building and infrastructure. It is my belief that the plans will not be scrapped entirely but that those in the know and likely to provide the right support to those in power will be permitted to cherry-pick such housing developments.

Tram/Train Network

Some time ater the Supertram extention into Rotherham (and beyond) was ditched some bright spark came up with the idea of a tram/train linkage to Sheffield. After the initial project was aired I heard absolutley nothing further about it for some time, but in 2013 the Government and Network Rail have promised substantial sums to create a link between Sheffield and Parkgate. Further monies have been applied for from other organisations. If successful the scheme will be used to modify existing track, both rail and tram, to allow their use by tram-trains. The route will run from Meadowhall via Rotherham Central Station to Parkgate Retail World where anew station will be created.

The High Speed Rail Network

Plans for the high speed and colossally expensive new high speed rail network are being pressed through by the government although it means ripping up large swathes of countryside, woodlands and protected widlife areas. It will also affect country estates, pretty villages and old towns in the Tory heartlands as well as the rest of us who don't count. A branch from Birmingham to Leeds is proposed, with a new Meadowhall Station at Tinsley. The surrounding area which strays into Rotherham can then be profitably developed. It us expected that the line will be open by 2032-33. Twenty years on: I don't think I'll be here to tell the tale.

The Redevelopment of the East Side of the Town Centre

The plans for the redevelopment of Rotherham grow more and more grandiose and more and more impracticable. Although Tesco do not seem to be onside yet another development strategy has been put forward in which their store is moved from Forge Island to the east side of town. The plan is to demolish all the council buildings off Walker Place and redevelop this as a retail area. All I can say is, that if I was Tesco, the council would have to make it very worth my while to move after the messing about over the Guest & Chrimes site. Forge Island will then be redeveloped as a 'Cultural Quarter' with a new library, arts centre, theatre and cafés. Included in these daydreams is the demolition of the present bus station, messing around with the road system around St Anns including road closures, the demolition of the flyover, downgrading Centenary Way from a dual carriageway between College Road and St Anns roundabout amongst other bright ideas. So let's just bu!!er up the busiest road around town.

Disregarding the mess and the timescale, just think about the money involved; multi-millions. All this from a council who can't even access enough funds to get the roads up to a decent standard.

Here I am on my high 4x4 again, but nothing that I've read seems to make anything like adequate provision for the motorist: no new or extended car parks mentioned in anything I've read. Still never mind, in twenty years time fuel seems likely to so scarce and so expensive us ordinary mortals won't be able to afford our own vehicles anyway. In which case whatever is done in the town centre is a total waste of brass!

At the beginning of April 2010, TCN UK (actually a Dutch company), one of the companies set to make a lot of money out of the Rotherham Renaissance scheme, has announced it has signed a legal agreement to buy 5.5 acres at Walker Place so that the new Tesco store can be built there. Just what Tesco thought of this was not mentioned.

Turnpike Wharf

The area between the new Keppel Wharf apartments down the River Don towards Riverside Precinct is to be developed under the name of Turnpike Wharf. When completed by a projected date of 2013 it should consist of an extension to the riverside walk, public realm works and possibly a café and parking.

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