Stalemate on centre

Rawmarsh Shopping Centre, Bellows Road, Rawmarsh.
Rawmarsh Shopping Centre, Bellows Road, Rawmarsh.

A WRANGLE over power supplies is the cause of a long delay in the redevelopment of a Rawmarsh shopping centre.

Work on the first phase of a scheme for Bellows Road Shopping Centre was due to begin last month, but as has happened many times previously, was cancelled.

Traders still working at the beleaguered centre who hope to take up new units, said they had not been informed of a starting date. Recently they spoke out to the Times of their frustration and fear for their livelihoods in the midst of all the uncertainty.

At a Wentworth South Area Assembly meeting last week, Rawmarsh Coun Neil Hamilton, who chaired the meeting, explained the situation to a mixed audience of local authority representatives and residents. He said ongoing negotiations over an electricity sub-station at the site have caused the long delay.

An original scheme for 59 residential properties along with retail units at Bellows Road fell through when the planned homes’ developer went bust, said Mr Hamilton, but it was agreed that the retail scheme would still go ahead with another developer.

However, a new electricity sub-station that was earlier deemed necessary for the full development of homes and retail units at a cost of £120,000 is now the subject of negotiations.

It is undecided who will pay for the sub-station if it is still a requirement on the site.

Mr Hamilton said: “Unfortunately there has been a long delay because of this but we are still confident that the scheme will go ahead.

“We will keep everyone involved informed of developments.”

It was February 2009 when Rotherham Council first confirmed that a rebuild of the 1960s concrete shopping centre would take place, when a compulsory purchase order was gained for the site.

Plans were for a smaller but much more modern set-up, with a nucleus of shops and services, and 60-odd houses and flats.

Coun Shaun Wright said then that the proposal was for a real village centre as the current building was a “monstrosity.” Rawmarsh residents are keen to see the centre upgraded, as it has become a hub for local youths with repeated vandalism.