Thursday, August 30, 2012

News: Council eyes cinema for Forge Island


Developers are showing an interested in a cinema-led development in Rotherham town centre as the council considers regeneration plans for when Tesco moves across town.

Plans were rubber-stamped earlier this month for a new 110,000 sq ft Tesco Extra store on the site of former council buildings on Drummond Street. The retailer expects to open in March 2014 and close its current, outdated store on Forge Island.

The delivery of a cinema has long been a key regeneration objective for the town centre and Forge Island has been identified by the council as the preferred location for a cinema and possible new theatre development. The council has an option to buy the site for £1.5m when Tesco vacate.

The site is close to the new rail station and bus station and is large enough to include an area for car parking. There are also adjacent riverside sites and developments with the potential for ancillary uses such as restaurants. The site would first need improved protection from flooding and further site investigation works are planned.

Council officers have already held informal discussions with three interested developers who have plans for potential regeneration projects anchored by a cinema with restaurants, retail, residential, other leisure uses and car parking. However, a cinema operator is likely to ask for a reverse premium as an inducement to anchor the site and make it a financial success.
Another way forward is similar to that seen recently in Worksop where the council gifted land to a developer and the independently-operated Savoy cinema opened earlier this year.

The council's cabinet are meeting next week to discuss the issue and confirm Forge Island as the preferred site for a town centre cinema and theatre development. A further report to members is expected as work progresses.

The last cinema in Rotherham town centre, The Empire (pictured), closed in 1990.

Images: Tom Austen / Rotherham Archives


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