Monday, August 22, 2016

News: Theme park visits for Rotherham planning board

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Councillors on the planning board at Rotherham Council are set for a site visit with a difference - a second trip to a Gulliver's theme park.

The operators are close to submitting a planning application for a £37m Gulliver's Family Theme Park resort adjacent to Rother Valley Country Park in Rotherham.

Gulliver's, who also operate theme parks in Milton Keynes, Warrington and Matlock Bath, developed an initial masterplan for the first of their sites in the UK to encompass all their major family entertainment elements in one location with new attractions exclusive to Rotherham.

Updated plans went on show as part of the consultation earlier this month with the developers on track to submit a more detailed planning application in September.

Site visits are often used to provide members, who will vote on proposals, a first hand appreciation of the issues - traffic, size of development, etc. In preparation for the impending theme park application it was agreed at the August 4 meeting of the planning board that: "Members of the Planning Board would make a visit of inspection to the Gulliver's Theme Park at Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, during September or October, 2016."

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The Council has been in discussions over the sale of the greenbelt land known as Pithouse West and plans were updated as a result of comments received at the pre-application public consultation on the development proposals and information gained during Gulliver's due diligence exercise that identified potential ground contamination on the site.

The latest proposals will see Gulliver's buy a reduced area of the site (approximately 250 acres rather than the full 330 acres).

The masterplan shows the park providing essentially the same scheme as previously consulted on albeit over a different development area. The major change is the proposed entrance to the scheme switching from Chesterfield Road to Mansfield Road.

The proposals for a year round destination aimed at 2 - 13 year olds include a theme park hub, woodland adventure centre, ecology and education centre, lodges, hotels and a holiday village. Expected to be built in four or five phases over 12 years, the theme park would come first and further developments would follow afterwards.
Bronwen Knight, planning manager at Rotherham Council, said at the meeting: "It's a site that's been identified for a leisure use for some time and it has had a previous planning application approved on there for what was called the YES! Project. That didn't manage to get the funding and we were looking at something called Visions of China and that didn't end up coming forward.

"Gulliver's are really interested in the site and members had a site visit to Warrington before Christmas to have a look at the sort of things they are proposing for the site.

"They have now done the public consultation and they've made some amendments to the scheme as a result of the comments that they had back and are currently going through a second round of consultation. What they've asked now is if members would like a site visit to one of the theme parks, given that board membership has changed quite considerably since that visit [due to the election], they are saying that Milton Keynes would probably be the most appropriate park to visit as it is the most similar to what they are proposing at Pithouse West."

Members voted to approve the arrangement of a site visit to Gulliver's Land at Milton Keynes. A site visit to Rother Valley is expected when the application comes before the board for determination.

The site of the Brookhouse Colliery included a coking works to the North West at Chesterfield Road and this land is set to be retained by the Council.

The authority is seeking consultants to undertake ground investigations on the retained site "to assess the contamination on the site and the potential for migration on to the adjacent site."



Images: Gulliver's / Facebook


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