Wednesday, February 2, 2022

News: Rotherham bingo hall demolition plans recalled

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Redevelopment plans that involve demolishing a historic Rotherham property and replacing it with flats have been withdrawn following the building being granted listed status.

Last year Mecca Bingo confirmed that its venue on Corporation Street in Rotherham town centre was closing permanently. Shortly afterwards, Sunshine Homes Ltd submitted plans to erect a residential building consisting of 45 dwellings and three ground floor commercial units. The plans would involve knocking down the art deco building as converting the exisiting property was found to be not a viable proposal.

The planning application has now been withdrawn.

At the end of 2021, Rothbiz revealed that a campaign to save the former Regal Cinema had been successful with the site now protected by Grade II listed building status.

Any new application would need listed building consent to carry out works that would "affect the character of the building as a building of special interest." For example, making alterations to the 1930's cinema, let alone demolishing it.

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Historic England has now updated the official list to include the Rotherham building.

The architectural interest is described as: "a good example of a medium-scale 1930s cinema built by a successful regional architectural practice who specialised in cinema designs" as well as having "a distinguished and well-executed Art Deco-influenced exterior that retains its character despite some later alteration."

Interest is also found inside. The listing adds: "the interior's first-floor foyer and the strikingly decorated main auditorium are notable principal spaces that retain much of their original Art Deco decoration, whilst other key surviving features include stairs, doors with leaded lights, dressing rooms beneath the stage, and part of the original ceiling decoration in the former first-floor restaurant."

The listing also refrerences the building being "unusually carefully engineered due to its position above the former course of the River Don, utilising an advanced piled concrete raft foundation that is embedded into the rock strata beneath the riverbed."

Opened in 1934, the cinema was built for, and constructed by, Thomas Wade & Son Ltd of Wath upon Dearne, under the name of Thomas Wade Cinemas Ltd. It was designed by Blackmore & Sykes of Hull.

The cinema was initially leased to the cinema entrepreneur Lou Morris, and had 1,850 seats, including 728 on the balcony, and multiple foyers. There was also a stage and three dressing rooms for live variety performances, a Conacher organ with an illuminated console mounted on a lift, and a cafe/restaurant that was open to non-patrons.

After undergoing a number of sales and name changes, the cinema closed in September 1983 and remained empty until May 1989 when it reopened as Ritz bingo. From 2004 it was operated by Mecca until its closure last year.

The building was due to go under the hammer in October 2021 but the lot was withdrawn before going to auction. 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 property did sell at auction in 2019 for £575,000.

The building is currently being marketed by Christie & Co.

Images: Christie & Co

6 comments:

Anonymous,  February 2, 2022 at 11:22 AM  

That’s good news, hopefully it won’t still be empty for years like the properties opposite,
As has been mentioned previously-it would make a good replacement for the civic theatre ! Come on RMBC get on it!

Mr me February 2, 2022 at 11:55 AM  

Surely this building could be converted into a larger theatre for Rotherham.Cant see it being appropriate for much else,and now it's not possible to demolish,it will soon becomes a burnt out eyesore otherwise!

Anonymous,  February 2, 2022 at 12:07 PM  

Says it was empty for 6 years in the 1980s. I hope it finds a use quicker this time.

Anonymous,  February 2, 2022 at 10:15 PM  

If RMBC converted to a new civic theatre, what would happen to the old one. We cant support two theatres, so any plans to build a new theatre would be dependent on being able to sell the the old one for redevelopment.

Anonymous,  February 3, 2022 at 12:47 PM  

The have plans to build a new theatre.Tbe current civic is to small and costs a fortune to maintain.Pretty sure if it was put up for sale,it would sell even if it was to be demolished.You know they do actually demolish old buildings,they don't all have to be saved !

Anonymous,  February 4, 2022 at 9:42 AM  

Couldn't care less about Rotherham Town centre anymore. Rotherham Council have left if far too late to try and catch up with with the likes of Doncaster and Barnsley with respect to enticing people to visit and spend in their town centre.

It costs me pretty much the same in price and time to visit Doncaster TC than it does Rotherham TC, so I'll continue spending my money there.

Rotherham TC is now the embarrassment of South Yorkshire.

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