Tuesday, November 8, 2022

News: Rotherham Council buys bingo hall in bid to boost regeneration


In an effort to support the regeneration of the town centre, Rotherham Council has the key of the door, purchasing a former bingo hall that has been unlucky for some.

Last year Mecca Bingo confirmed that its venue on Corporation Street in Rotherham town centre was closing permanently. Redevelopment plans were withdrawn after the former cinema was granted listed status.

The authority's purchase is part of its desire to extend the Leisure & Cultural Quarter alongside the new Forge Island development nearby.

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. This meant that earlier proposals from Sunshine Homes Ltd to erect a residential building consisting of 45 dwellings and three ground floor commercial units was withdrawn. The plans would have involved knocking down the art deco building as converting the existing property was found to be not a viable proposal.

In October 2021 the building was due to go under the hammer with a guide price of £390,000 but the lot was withdrawn before going to auction.

Cabinet papers confirm that the council has purchased the vacant former Mecca Bingo building in the town centre "as part of the Council’s Regeneration Programme. The property will contribute to the further regeneration of the Leisure & Cultural Quarter."

Corporation Street has been a target for investment after Rotherham was named on a list of successful "town deals" which should see £31.6m from the Government used to revamp areas of Rotherham town centre as well as Templeborough and Eastwood.

Investment plans explain: "The Leisure and Cultural Quarter continues across the river to include Corporation Street, a cluster of underused buildings which will provide leisure and residential uses on a smaller scale catering for independent providers and contributing to a 24-hour presence in the town centre.

"Corporation Street occupies a prime position linking the town centre to the Forge Island development, which currently acts as a barrier between the town and its riverside. It is comprised of tired, derelict and underutilised buildings.

"This is an ambitious transformation which will require a phased approach and working in partnership with private sector owners to bring the buildings back into use and provide high quality design reflective of the Conservation Area status. New uses will see residential and ground floor leisure uses complementary to the Forge Island development and new public realm."

Rothbiz has previously reported on the council's considerations for a new theatre and arts space in Rotherham town centre.

In September, Rotherham Council's cabinet approved the use of its £1m Strategic Acquisitions Fund, approved by Council in March 2021 for the Capital Programme and spend within the Towns Fund, and for officers to negotiate the acquisition by agreement of property interests at various sites.

The sites were not disclosed but council minutes show: "The properties identified as Site 1a and 1b in Appendix 1 were required for the continued development of an improved leisure offer in the town centre. Site 2 was a building which had lacked a secure future for many years. Sites 3 and 4 had previously been identified for acquisition and would continue development at the Riverside Residential Quarter and Leisure & Culture Quarter."

No sum for purchasing the bingo hall property, which recently suffered a suspected arson, has been disclosed.

With 25,833 sq ft of space over three floors, the building has been advertised for lease by Christie & Co. It includes a main floor with a stage and tiered seating, currently set up as a bingo hall. The upper floor includes a bar and lounge.

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.

Images: Christie & Co.


Anonymous,  November 8, 2022 at 12:00 PM  

Wonder what genius scheme RMBC will have for this? Bet your bottom dollar it starts with a wrecking ball and ends in flats.

Anonymous,  November 8, 2022 at 12:19 PM  

Another unfinished pocket park’ no doubt😡

Anonymous,  November 8, 2022 at 12:52 PM  

As this building can't be pulled down due to grade 2 listing(personally think it should be pulled down,of little importance as I can see)Think it would be possible to convert this into the bigger theatre/venue that Rotherham needs,it would then sit within the area designated at the cultural/leisure quarter.

Anonymous,  November 8, 2022 at 1:50 PM  

Would be a great Wetherspoons

Anonymous November 8, 2022 at 4:39 PM  

Yes of course after the Rhino and Cornlaw Rhymer closed through lack of use Wetherspoons will be really eager to come back into the town center.

Anonymous,  November 9, 2022 at 12:59 PM  

Rhino didn't close due to lack in of use,it was busy,it is was being renovated and burnt down,like rhinos ,corn law was sold ,like many wetherspoons have been,I believe it is supposed to be reopening at some point So agree a wetherspoons on that site maybe part of a theatre venue development would work.

Anonymous,  November 10, 2022 at 11:16 AM  

I think they should knock it down and build a 40 story block of the tiniest apartments possible with no parking because that's how we should all live now.

Anonymous,  November 10, 2022 at 3:39 PM  

Reckon that's how we will end up ,dont think it's sunk in with many,they still want there houses with gardens,tiny island running out of land to build on and need land to produce food🤔

Anonymous,  November 11, 2022 at 10:00 AM  

The absolute cheek of people wanting a bit of space to live in, how dare they.

Anonymous,  November 11, 2022 at 12:25 PM  

Anything but a Weatherspoons!

Anonymous,  November 11, 2022 at 12:59 PM  

But what about a Wetherspoons?

Anonymous,  November 11, 2022 at 4:27 PM  

Walking in a Weatherspoons is that point in a persons life where they know they've reached rock bottom.

Anonymous,  November 13, 2022 at 4:29 PM  

But what about walking into a Wetherspoons?

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