ROTHERHAM’S multi-million pound town centre regeneration project could be hit by a shortfall in funding after “severe cut-backs” by the government.
The 25-year Rotherham Renaissance scheme will be one of numerous projects thrown into disarray after MPs took the decision to slash nearly £50 million from regeneration development agency Yorkshire Forward.
A report by Rotherham Borough Council’s Regeneration Scrutiny Panel has revealed that the agency had expected its funding allocation for 2010/11 to have been around £85 million but, instead, it will be closer to £37 million.
As a result, the Renaissance project, which had expected to receive around £8 million over the next year, will be handed a £5 million contribution.
“Consequently we are having to consider re-programming schemes to ensure delivery while ensuring that the overall programme is delayed as little as possible,” the report states.
The move has brought the issue of public spending cuts into sharp contrast for the authority ahead of the May 6 General Election.
Among the town centre sites scheduled for improvements as part of Renaissance—which relies on Yorkshire Forward as the main source of its funding—are: the old Market Site, Keppel Wharf, the Imperial Buildings, the Wierside Site, Rotherham’s new railway station and Rotherham Minster.
A flood alleviation scheme is also among the priorities of the scheme.
But the borough council’s director of Environment and Development Services, Karl Battersby, stressed: “None of our Renaissance projects will be stopped.
“In fact, we have more now in the pipeline, such as improvements to High Street buildings.”
He added: “The cuts do affect Renaissance, but only in the sense of delays.
“The council is being pro-active on its top central development priorities—the All Saints’ site and High Street.
“Over the past few months we have been planning ways of minimising the impact.
We’ve been discussing with Yorkshire Forward for some time now how the agency might be able to fund those to keep the improvements moving forward.
“At the same time, we’re attracting more shops into the centre.”
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