National retailer updates plans for large empty Rotherham unit

A national chain is considering how to take over a large Rotherham retail unit that has seen many uses in recent years.

Since Homebase at Parkgate Shopping closed a decade ago, the large unit has been used by Best Buy, Kiddicare and as a retail outlet for JD Sports Fashion plc’s outdoor brands Millets and Blacks.

Rothbiz revealed in January that a planning application had been submitted showing the Frasers Group was looking for the vacant store.

Founded by Mike Ashley in 1982, the Frasers Group is now a collection of the world’s most iconic brands, notably Sports Direct, Flannels, GAME and USC.

The January plans, drawn up by Jigsaw Planning, show how the unit would be transformed with the installation of a mezzanine consisting of 22,400 square feet of retail space and an additional 20,400 square foot gym.

The latest application updates the proposal with the group now only wanting to create a partial mezzanine for a gym at 22,646 square feet.

The main operators would be Sports Direct and Everlast Fitness Club. Plans also show 6,000 square feet of ground-floor space for Fraser Group’s retailer, USC, along with smaller space for GAME and Evans Cycles. Also shown is a 7,000 foot unit that could be sub-leased by the group.

Sports Direct and USC already have units at Parkgate.

Eliminated space for designer brand retailer, Flannels.

Commercial

The app explains: “In 2014, Sports Direct purchased the LA Fitness gym chain and rebranded it to Sports Direct/Everlast Fitness gyms. Once this rebranding was complete, the next step in the growth of the brand was merge the two elements of their business, retail and gym. The first unit to open a merged store and gym was in Aintree, Liverpool, where a purpose-built scheme houses the two elements side by side.

“The proposed development will result in the provision of an Everlast Fitness Club on the mezzanine floor of the existing unit, while retaining the ground floor for retail uses (to be occupied by the Sports Direct, USC and Game brands).”

As the proposals would increase the unit’s commercial space to nearly 70,000 square feet and the site is classified as out of town, a commercial evaluation and sequential test are also included.

Sequential testing ensures that development is located in the most sustainable location first (usually in city centres), before choosing other less sustainable locations.

As the applicant is looking for a large unit where a gym and retail store can be located, vacant units and undeveloped sites in Rotherham town center and other local centers have been discounted, primarily for being too small. The sequential test concludes: “there are no sequentially preferable sites within the assigned hubs that are suitable or available to accommodate the proposed development.”

The vacant unit development is Sports Direct’s third attempt to expand in Rotherham. In 2016, the group was looking at the 51,000-square-foot mini-warehouse vacated by B&Q for use by several of its brands. It is now a car sales site operated by The Trade Center Group.

In 2018, Sports Direct applied to install a mezzanine for a gym in Matalan’s current Parkgate store.

Frasers Group website

Images: Everlast Gyms / Facebook

Leave a Comment