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M&S building set to disappear in radical overhaul for Rotherham

Written by on 18/11/2020

Rotherham’s old Marks and Spencer building is to be demolished to make way for a new park, though the site has now been earmarked for housing in the long-term.

The High Street building, more recently occupied by Primark, has been empty for years and attempts to find a buyer have proved unsuccessful, with the size of the property regarded as a handicap.

Now it has been bought by Rotherham Council, which wants to clear the site to create a ‘pocket park’ in the heart of the town.

The move has been made possible because the council has secured cash from a government programme called the Towns Fund Accelerator.

They say the new park will be “a high-quality public space” which will occupy the site “in the short term”.

However, at some point in the future the site is expected to be used for housing – in planning permission can be obtained – which would provide another piece in the jigsaw of the council’s ambition to bring more residents into the area.

When Marks and Spencer moved out of the building, relocating at Parkgate retail park, it was seen by many as a major blow to the town. However, the High Street area now has many independent traders, including food outlets and the council’s own outlet for craft and individual goods traders.

Cllr Denise Lelliott, the authority’s spokeswoman on jobs and the economy, said: “These are exciting and significant developments that will complement the work we are already undertaking to transform Rotherham town centre.

“The short-term plan, creating a pocket park, will help to create a more attractive area on the High Street and add to the leisure offer that is being developed to encourage families to socialise in attractive and diverse surroundings.

“Town centres across the country are having to adapt as their traditional uses start to change.

“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. Long term residential plans for the site will contribute to the changes that we are delivering through the Town Centre Masterplan including three new housing developments and the leisure scheme at Forge Island.”

Redevelopment of the site will start in early next year with the demolition of the building, though planning permisson is still needed for that because it sits in a conservation area.

Overall plans for the town centre include three big housing schemes at Wellgate, Westgate and Sheffield Road as well as other developments.