PROPOSALS for a £50 million town centre at burgeoning Waverley have been approved by planners.
The 12-acre retail and leisure project — including a town square, bus station and hotel — was approved unanimously by Rotherham Borough Council’s planning board yesterday.
It will also have shops, a gym, health centre, pharmacy, offices and parking for 577 cars on land between new housing and the Advanced Manufacturing Park.
Applicants Waverley Square, a firm set up by landowners Harworth Group to lead the project, said it could create 700 jobs.
Some residents welcomed the extra facilities, especially the prospect of having a health centre and pharmacy within walking distance.
But others — including those signing a petition of 202 names — objected because of the scale of the proposals, saying there would be more disruption and parking problems.
A spokesman for Rolls-Royce, which opened a £110 million factory at the AMP in 2015, said: “The common consensus among businesses and residents is that the area lacks a local heart, including amenities such as shops, eating establishments and community facilities.
“Like other businesses at Waverley, we believe the plans provide the necessary scale and ambition to match the quality of existing occupiers at the AMP and will create a vibrant heart to the wider development.”
MPs Sir Kevin Barron and Sarah Champion said in a statement: “We believe this development will prove to be a major factor in the regeneration of the Waverley site.
“Not only are the visual plans extremely aesthetically pleasing with beautiful landscaping and architecture, but the development will provide jobs for hundreds of people, something to be greatly welcomed in this area of high unemployment.”
The plans must be referred to the Government for final approval because of the scale and use in an out-of-town location.
More than 600 houses have been completed at Waverley and about 3,400 are set to be added over the next 15 years.
Subject to being approved by the Government, work is expected to start in spring 2018 and take two years to complete.
Owen Michaelson, chief executive of Harworth Group plc, said: “This is a key development for Rotherham and for the Sheffield City Region in that it will create the sort of high-quality local facilities that both businesses at the Advanced Manufacturing Park and local residents increasingly expect.
“Waverley is growing into a prominent placemaking destination in the region and these facilities will further attract new residents and businesses to live and work at the development.”
Mark Dransfield, managing director of Dransfield Properties, said the firm was “delighted” the plans had been approved by the council.
“We have been keen from the outset to design a genuinely outstanding scheme befitting of Waverley, with architecture and materials to match.
“With the combined experience and knowledge of our two companies we are confident we will deliver an excellent scheme for Waverley to serve this growing community over the next two and a half years.”