Visitors to Rotherham will see progress being made around Forge Island this month as work continues to prepare it for development.
The Forge Island site, which Rotherham Council purchased from Tesco in February, is set to play a major part in plans to regenerate the town centre.
Following demolition of the former Tesco building, a Masterplan* was published last month and the Council has also acquired the Law Courts, adjacent to the site.
As the Council now prepares to seek a partner to help deliver the plans – a formal tender will go out in the Autumn - it is also opening up one of Rotherham’s ‘well-trodden’ landmarks.
From next week, work will begin on the pedestrian bridge linking Forge Island to the town centre. The work – which is expected to last three weeks and will be carried out by Peninsula Access Ltd - will see the removal of the roof and sides to make it ‘light, bright, and airy’.
The footbridge will be closed during this time and the main pedestrian exit will be via the main road bridge on to Market Street. Businesses in the Riverside Precinct will be open as usual and can be accessed from Corporation Street.
Rotherham Council’s Cabinet Member for Jobs and the Local Economy Cllr Denise Lelliott said the work was being done in response to resident complaints about anti-social behaviour.
She said: “In the longer term, the bridge will be completely replaced as part of the development of Forge Island as a leisure destination. However, shoppers using the Forge Island car park have told us they do not feel safe using the current bridge because it is enclosed so opening it up will make it feel much more welcoming.”
Forge Island currently has 300 parking spaces for visitors to the town centre, which are free all-day at weekends. In addition, shoppers can park for free for two hours in the car park’s ‘red zone’ on weekdays.
Following the demolition of Tesco’s, work is currently taking place to provide a further 200 temporary parking spaces which will also be free all day each weekend.
York Road car park, near the town centre, also has 100-bay free all-day weekend parking.
Meanwhile, work started this week on the demolition of the Law Courts by Rotherham based contractor G. Morley Ltd. Whilst works will initially see the internal stripped, external demolition will take place in the Autumn with a view to the site being flattened by the end of the year.
*Last month saw the draft town centre Masterplan published following several months of consultation. The final draft version is due to go before Cabinet in September.