Things are shaping up in the renaissance of Rotherham
PUBLISHED: 17:59 13 June 2012 | UPDATED: 21:29 20 February 2013
Five years after a £2billion renaissance package was launched in Rotherham, Jo Haywood heads south to see how things are shaping up Photographs by Elizabeth Savage
The print version of this article appeared in the June 2012 issue of Yorkshire Life
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Some prosperous places reward themselves with a new railway station, football stadium or cultural centre. But Rotherham has opted for all three.
The South Yorkshire towns widely talked-about renaissance was launched in 2007 with the vaulted aim of providing the people of Rotherham with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve their health, leisure, civic and transport facilities through a major injection of funding, building and wide-ranging redevelopment.
Its about re-thinking what towns like this should be achieving for their people, Yorkshire Forward, the regional development agency, said at
the time. Thats better jobs, homes, shops, public spaces, leisure facilities and quality of life.
Since then, major changes have happened, with new retail, residential and commercial developments emerging every year to boost the coffers of this burgeoning town and enhance the prospects of its 250,000 residents.
The Old Market and Keppel Wharf have opened, offering a mix of apartments, retail and restaurant space; the former market building has picked up design awards; the Imperial Buildings have been renovated and reopened; a leisure complex has been launched; and a new NHS health village has emerged on the waterfront.
Statistics also show Rotherham attracted new investment and industry from abroad in the three years to 2010, with the Advanced Manufacturing Park attracting companies like Rolls Royce and Castings Technology International. And, at the same time, the towns economy, when combined with Sheffield, grew faster than Leeds and Manchester. But while lots has been done, theres still a lot to achieve.
Among the latest tranche of projects is the 8.5 million redevelopment of the central railway station, set to bring even more visitors to the compact, pedestrianised town centre this summer for business, leisure or retail therapy in the 400 or so shops and markets (including the national award-winning Tuesday Street Market).
Some of them will probably also head to Riverside House, home to Rotherhams new library, cafe, heritage and arts space, which opened its doors to the public for the first time on St Georges Day this year. Its been quite an operation to move the thousands of items that we hold and make sure that they are in the correct order and place at Riverside,
said Julie Hird, the borough councils manager for integrated cultural services. Weve moved about 51,000 books, 6,000 DVDs, 4,500 CDs and 40 public access PCs to ensure the new library is the best it can be for its thousands of expected visitors.
Sustainability has been a key element of the Riverside House project, with energy efficient lighting, controls to reduce carbon emissions and bore holes sunk deep underground for the heating and cooling systems.
Local suppliers have also been used wherever possible to help give a boost to the Rotherham economy.
And just yards away from this cultural hub is yet another new town landmark the 20 million New York Community Stadium, home to Rotherham United from the start of the 2012-13 season.
After four years at Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield, the Millers will be coming home to a new 12,000-seater ground on the site of the former Guest & Chrimes factory, which created the first New York fire hydrants to be exported to the US.
Our aim is to make the New York Stadium the place to be on a Saturday afternoon for everyone, from families to local business people, said Ashley Donlan, managing director of Empire Stadiums, which is driving the development forward on behalf of the club. Its about utilising the Rotherham United FC and New York Stadium brands and facilities to positively influence the local community and generate business in times of austerity.
Although, when it comes to Rotherham, austerity is not necessarily the word that springs to mind anymore. With yet more regeneration projects on the cards for at least the next two years, this is a town taking self-belief to a whole new level.
Getting there: Rotherham can be accessed from the M1 at junctions 33, 34 and 35, and from the M18 at junction one. More than 40 services from around the borough and beyond stop at Rotherham Interchange. For details, visit travelsouthyorkshire.com. The central railway station is linked to Sheffield, 15 minutes away, and Doncaster, 20 minutes away.
Parking: There are more than 20 competitively priced car parks in a range of locations around Rotherham town centre, with more than 2,275 spaces available within a short walk of the main shopping and leisure areas. For a comprehensive map, visit rotherhamtowncentre.co.uk.
Where to go: Rotherham Minster, built in the 15th century and described by Pevsner as one of the largest and stateliest of parish churches in Yorkshire; Rotherham Civic Theatre, which offers a wide-ranging programme of dance, drama, music, and comedy; Clifton Park Museum, which highlights the history of the borough to great effect after a 3 million redesign; and Magna Science & Adventure Centre, dramatically housed in a vast former steelworks.
Is Rotherham enjoying a renaissance?
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