Town centre homes boost from converting unwanted building space

Shop and office units which have stood unused since a Rotherham town centre building was constructed a decade ago are to be converted into apartments to bring them into use.

Rotherham Council’s planning board have agreed to the change of use for the ground floor of the Keppel Wharf building at Market Street, near Forge Island, to be given over to new homes.

The building was constructed around ten years ago, covering several storeys with commercial space on the ground floor and 53 apartments above.

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Board members were told that while the apartments element of the scheme had been successful, the commercial enterprise had not, with much of the space never occupied.

One shop had opened but since closed, with some of the space given out to arts groups in an attempt to encourage further use of the building.

However there had been no interest from potential users and councillors agreed that the space could be given up to create more new homes.

The building has an underground car park, but no additional spaces will be created because the council does not want to encourage private vehicle use among those in ‘town living’ apartments.

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Developments of between 10 and 15 new homes in Rotherham require the developer to make a financial contribution towards providing affordable housing.

However, there is a loophole for those bringing existing space into use for housing, meaning the site is largely exempt from the charge, with a contribution of £1,700 to be charged.