Prestige housing developments approved to breathe new life into Rotherham town centre
Three new housing sites on the fringes of Rotherham town centre will be developed to provide what the council believes will be a new market in town-centre living, creating a varied mix of affordable housing with some properties up for sale on open market.
But one element of the scheme was branded an “abomination” because the council has sidestepped its own guideline over the position of new apartment blocks on the old Henley’s garage site at Wellgate.
They were accused of allowing views of the historic Wellgate Old Hall to be obscured by allowing a building line parallel with the front of the building, rather than pushing it back to the rear of the building, as council planning guidelines suggested.
The hall’s owner, Maurice Healy, said in 1589 Queen Elizabeth had described the hall as “her cottage” and it was an important part of Rotherham’s history.
“I consider myself the custodian of this part of Rotherham’s history,” he said.
“You are prepared to ignore your own recommendations and obscure this building.
“Your children, grand children and great grandchildren will see this abomination you are proposing here,” he said, and suggested the site should be redrawn with the building line behind the hall.
Councillors were told the hall would not be obscured from sight, because of the angle that new buildings would be sited at and council officials advice was that the current plans were acceptable, notwithstanding the authority’s own guideline over the building line.
Coun Michael Elliott told the meeting the site had been “an eyesore for far too long”.
Two other sites were also approved for development, providing a mix of houses and apartments which will be predominantly ‘affordable homes’, either for rent or shared ownership.
One development will front both the River Don and Sheffield Road, with all three designed to help improve gateway routes into the town centre.
Part of the appeal of the new homes is expected to be their close proximity to the redeveloped town centre, with Forge Island providing entertainment with a new cinema and restaurants, along with other improvements to make the town more attractive to visitors.