Thursday, March 30, 2017

News: No call in for Gulliver's plans


The planning applications for the £37m leisure resort next to Rother Valley Country Park in Rotherham have not been called in by the Government for further scrutiny, paving the way for building work to begin.

Last month, the planning board at Rotherham Council unanimously approved the plans from Gulliver's, the the operators of family theme parks in Warrington, Matlock Bath and Milton Keynes, 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.

The proposals, which will create around 400 jobs, will see Gulliver's buy approximately 250 acres of the Pit House West site from the Council. The restored former colliery and opencast site will be transformed into Gulliver's Valley - a year round destination aimed at 2 - 13 year olds and is set to include a theme park hub, woodland adventure centre, ecology and education centre, lodges, hotels and a holiday village.

Due to its prominence and the site being in the Green Belt, The National Planning Casework Unit was given the opportunity to "call in" the application on behalf of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

The applications were returned to Rotherham Council for determination, and the plans have now been granted with a number of conditions. These relate to things like operating hours, drainage measures and an insistence that the hotel and other accommodation aspects do not come forward without the theme park elements. A £1.2m transport improvement scheme is already underway in the area.


The scheme includes some 215,000 sq ft of buildings. Further details of the attractions set for Gulliver's Valley, including Liliput Castle, a log flume, Antelope, Pirate Coaster, Tower Ride, farm park and pet resort, can be found here.

Following planning approval, the scheme is expected to be built over 12 - 15 years in a number of phases. Phase one includes the main Gulliver's theme park with three themed areas, the entrance hub and castle, and is set to open in 2020.

Cllr. Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Council said he was pleased that the Government had decided not to hold a public inquiry on the plans. He added: "It will be a £37m investment, creating hundreds of jobs, and a leisure facility that puts us on the map.

"When you think of how long that site has been undeveloped, and the proposals that never came to fruition, our thanks should go to Julie Dalton [managing director of the Gulliver's group] and her team and everyone that has made it possible."
Rotherham Council has long had ambitions for the greenbelt site to be transformed into a landmark leisure / tourism development on a regional, national and international scale. The reclamation of Brookhouse Colliery and incorporation into the Rother Valley Country Park to enhance its attraction as a regional facility was first mooted when the colliery operations closed in 1985. After purchasing the site from the Coal Authority, the Council began the search for a developer in March 2002.

This is the third time the Council has sought interest from developers, and the furthest plans have ever got. Outline planning approval was granted for the £350m YES! Project in 2007 and updated plans were approved in September 2010.

Developers, Oak Holdings were dropped for a lack of progress. The £110m Visions of China project was the preferred choice of the authority in 2011 but was also dropped for a lack of progress. Having previously come forward for discussions with the Council in 2014, Gulliver's entered into an agreement to purchase the land from the Council in 2015.

Gulliver's Valley website

Images: Gulliver's


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