Wednesday, November 24, 2021

News: Listed building hope to save former Rotherham cinema

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An art deco former cinema in Rotherham that is under the threat of demolition could be saved by a successful campaign to have the building listed.

The Mecca Bingo on Corporation Street in Rotherham town centre was closed earlier this year. It originally opened in December 1934 as the Regal Cinema.

Rothbiz reported in June that an application had been submitted to knock the building down and in its place, erect a residential building consisting of 45 dwellings and three ground floor commercial units.

At the time of the application the building was not listed and planning documents from Sunshine Homes Ltd explained that: "The initial intention was to explore options for a residential conversion of the existing building, however having assessed these options in detail it was clear that a conversion was simply not a viable proposal. As such it was concluded that the only real option was for a new build approach."

Now a campaign group says that the Rotherham building will be protected by Grade II listed building status.

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The Cinema Theatre Association, which campaigns nationally to protect traditional cinema buildings, said: "The Regal Rotherham has been Listed Grade II by Historic England, following a campaign to prevent demolition, reports the Cinema Theatre Association's architectural caseworker today. This 1934 cinema has a prominent position in the town. It was designed by Hull architects Blackmore & Sykes for Lou Morris. It later passed through several operators, becoming the Scala before going onto bingo as Ritz/Mecca, closing due to the pandemic restrictions."

Historic England has not yet updated its list and maps but Rotherham Council's mapping system shows the building now has Grade II listed status as a "Building of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. Former Regal Cinema."

Any planning application would need to show very special circumstances in order to demolish a listed building.

Even before the listing, Historic England had objected to plans to demolish the building and replace it with new build flats due to its location adjacent to the Rotherham Town Centre Conservation Area.

Suzanne Lilley, Inspector of Historic Buildings and Areas, said: "It is Historic England’s view that the current approach is not appropriate, and we have serious concerns regarding this application on heritage grounds.

"The demolition of the former Regal cinema would completely erode any contribution the application site makes to the special interest of the conservation area. We are not of the view that sufficient public benefits arising from the proposal have been demonstrated that would outweigh this harm.

"We strongly encourage the retention and reuse of the former Regal cinema, thereby putting historic places at the heart of the approach to redevelopment in Rotherham town centre."

The stand out features of the building are its principal fa├žade which comprises a three-bay central section in a restrained design enlivened by the use of pilasters, cornices and elaborate glazing bars. Inside there is a relatively high level of survival with key elements of the historic decorative scheme to the foyer and auditorium remaining intact.

The building was due to go up for auction in October with a guide price of £390,000. The freehold of the 25,833 sq ft building was described as having "potential for commercial / institutional / religious use and residential development subject to planning."

The lot was withdrawn before going to auction.

The property did sell at auction in 2019 for £575,000.

Images: Network Auctions

16 comments:

Mr me November 24, 2021 at 1:45 PM  

Save for what? Guarantee if saved ,it will become the usual run down burnt out eyesore.Only Rotherham seems to want to save the most unimportant,pointless buildings.Guarentee virtually any other town it would already be flattened.GET IT PULLED DOWN AND GET NEW DEVELOPMENTS,FGS

Anonymous,  November 24, 2021 at 1:50 PM  

Then we wonder why town us a laughing stock and know as "Toytown"Neighbouring towns have new hight rise development,then there's rotherham .Joke

Anonymous,  November 24, 2021 at 1:57 PM  

This is great news and impressive to see how swiftly Historic England have acted. Let's hope the building can be put to a practical alternative use, rather than let it become the victim to the town's resident arsonists.

However, lets remember RMBC does have a little bit of form when it comes to disregarding listed buildings if there's the prospect of throwing up a few flats!

Michael,  November 24, 2021 at 4:12 PM  

As there are very few art deco buildings in Rotherham I would disagree with the comments that this is "most unimportant" or "pointless". It is fantastic that the building has been listed and will be preserved. Hopefully a sympathetic redevelopment can occur to bring this building back into use, particularly given it's close proximity to the new cultural quarter on Forge Island and close transportation links.

Anonymous,  November 24, 2021 at 4:31 PM  

I think it would be ideal for a new theatre. Near to Forge Island, some clever design could have a bar overlooking the river.

Anonymous,  November 24, 2021 at 4:33 PM  

Let's see what it turns into Michael,this is Rotherham, probably a burnt out slum or a pound shop.This is Rotherham remember.

Anonymous,  November 24, 2021 at 9:00 PM  

I do not understand the constant negativity on this website towards Rotherham.

Mr me November 25, 2021 at 2:04 AM  

Anonymous,it's simple,it's living with the constant disappointment of all things Rotherham ,when we look at what our neighbouring towns get when compared to the rubbish we get.When they eventually build something it's always much smaller than other towns get.Council run Rotherham like s small parish not a large town of over quarter of a million!

Anonymous,  November 25, 2021 at 4:14 AM  

Probably be empty forever.Dont think people realise the costs involved in trying to convert a building into something totally different to what it was built for.it works out far cheaper to build from scratch.Will put any developer off .Look at Guest and chrimes building.

Anonymous,  November 25, 2021 at 9:29 AM  

I think it should be preserved. As they are making a new cinema in a nearby development why not take over and refurbish the old one. We don't always want to go to Sheffield to see a film. Or use it as a theatre. Many of us remember coming here as children. I even had my first date here. I would really like to see it preserved. We need a cinema in Rotherham or possibly a larger theatre.

Anonymous,  November 25, 2021 at 10:30 AM  

Given the close location to the new leisure developments on Forge Island this would make an ideal location for a theatre. It would be great if the council could support moving the existing theatre to here, it would be a much easier location to access being close to the Interchange and Train Station, in addition to the new parking once Forge Island is developed.

Anonymous,  November 25, 2021 at 11:08 AM  

Agree with above comments-it would make an ideal theatre, in the scale of things it would be cheaper in the long run than keeping the civic afloat ! Come on RMBC get on it -surly there are lots of grants out there!

Anonymous,  November 25, 2021 at 11:53 AM  

Great idea to save a fine old building, but, who's going to finance this?
We have companies willing to put money into the new Forge Island project and are on with it now.
To save this building and convert it into a Theatre(?), would probably cost more than building a new one. Old buildings like this need constant money thrown at them.
Like i said, it's a fine old building but I can't see many Companies in the queue to convert it.......is Historic England going to pay for the upkeep??? No, i didn't think so............another Guest & Chrimes beckons.....

Anonymous,  November 25, 2021 at 12:56 PM  

Demolition,and keep the frontage is only way it will get a developer onboard.And to be honest rest of building is pretty ugly anyhow.

Anonymous,  November 25, 2021 at 2:42 PM  

Defo need a much larger theatre,but don't think this is an option,would cost a fortune!

Anonymous,  November 25, 2021 at 2:44 PM  

There's a new cinema complex just over river on forge island being built.

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