Works to prepare Riverside Precinct and Chantry Buildings for demolition are now underway as part of a key milestone in the development of Forge Island.
Forge Island, which sits between the River Don and South Yorkshire Navigation Canal, will host a new leisure scheme with an 8-screen boutique style cinema, modern hotel, food and drink outlets and car parking. The facilities will be set within an attractive square with a new pedestrian bridge over the river connecting the island to the wider town centre.
The buildings being demolished on Corporation Street will open up the space between the Minster and Forge Island and transform the landscape, offering wonderful views of the river, Minster and the new development.
High-quality landscaping has already been created next to the canal, including new amphitheatre seating overlooking the lock.
This next phase of the Town Centre Masterplan follows on from work already progressing, including; revamped public realm on College Street which will incorporate new on-street pay & display parking bays, three new town centre housing sites and the transformation of the old Primark building on High Street into a pocket park.
Works to the public spaces on Bridgegate have now also been completed, with new paving, lighting and landscaping offering views of the Minster and allowing space for future pop-up events.
Rotherham Council’s Cabinet Member for Jobs and the Local Economy, Cllr Denise Lelliott, said: “We want to really make the most of the town’s natural assets. At one time, rivers were seen as industrial and dirty so buildings used to be built facing away from them, but times have changed. We also know how beautiful outdoor spaces and natural water can benefit health and wellbeing, as well as being a place where people can come together.
“We are having to adapt and move away from the more traditional use of the town centre, much like other areas across the country. We’re looking at what Rotherham town centre needs to thrive and that means thinking differently and looking at how people will live in and use the town centre in years to come.”
As part of the works, Riverside car park, which is accessed off Corporation street, will be closed for 10 weeks. Diversions will also be in place for pedestrians accessing Forge Island car park from the town centre.
The Town Centre Masterplan includes three major housing developments at Wellgate, Westgate and Sheffield Road, as well as improvements to open spaces across College Street, Bridgegate, Howard Street and Effingham Street. Works already completed as part of the Masterplan include the Transport Interchange, University Centre Rotherham and Forge Island Flood Alleviation and Enabling scheme.
The Rotherham Town Centre Investment Fund, which was establish by the Council to deliver the Masterplan, is funding the town centre regeneration with further funding secured, and being sought, from other sources including the Government’s Future High Streets Fund and Transforming Cities Fund.