Monday, December 19, 2022

News: Council identifies site for new theatre in Rotherham town centre


Another large empty retail store in the town centre could be demolished by Rotherham Council after the site was earmarked as the potential location for a new theatre.

Regeneration plans are coming together for the Corporation Street area of town where the Council wants to see the Leisure & Cultural Quarter extended from the Forge Island scheme where work recently got underway.

Muse Developments, with Bowmer & Kirkland as contractor and funded by the council, is bringing a state-of-the-art cinema, 69 room hotel, and six restaurants to Forge Island.

Under the Council's ownership, the Riverside Precinct and Chantry Buildings have already been demolished to make way for an open space between Forge Island and Minster Gardens. Now the large plot next door is in the sights of the wrecking ball.

A planning application has been submitted to determine whether prior approval is required for the method of demolition and restoration of the site relating to the demolition of the former Wilkinson's Store.

The 20,423 sq ft property was vacated by the value general merchandise retailer at the start of 2022.

The plans are from Rotherham Council, a hint that the authority has bought the property. They state: "The demolition of the former Wilkinson's store will provide the Council with the opportunity to enhance its Cultural & Leisure Quarter, building on from Forge Island this site in the longer term has been identified as the preferred option for a new theatre in the town centre.

"The demolition [of] 4 Corporation Street and remediation of the site is viewed as enabling works for this future redevelopment. In the short term it would also allow the site to be used as a compound for the main construction works in this locality coming forward in 23/24."

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

In recent weeks Rothbiz has discussed the plans for the area including a revamp of the former NatWest bank into 16 new residential properties and 12,300 sq ft of commercial space.

Riverside Gardens is also planned for the area - a new area of public realm.

Rothbiz also revealed last month that Rotherham Council had bought the former Mecca Bingo, "that will contribute to the further regeneration of the Leisure & Cultural Quarter." The Grade II listed building sits alongside the former Wilkos.

With 25,833 sq ft of space over three floors, the art deco building includes a main floor with a stage and tiered seating, currently set up as a bingo hall having previously been a cinema. The upper floor includes a bar and lounge.

The council is also aiming to acquire the burnt out buildings on the opposite side of Corporation Street and has drafted up plans for further residential and commercial space here.

To connect the development sites in the area, it is also expected that investment will be made in infrastructure and making it more pedestrian friendly.

On the plans for NatWest, Riverside Gardens and the burnt out buildings, Tim O'Connell, Head of RiDO, the regeneration arm of Rotherham Council, told councillors last week: "They are all looking to be done by 2025 for these so there's quite a bit of activity to happen at the same time. So, to be fair, there will be disruption in that area of town, but disruption to try and deliver positive change that I think is much needed."

On historic buildings in the area, O'Connell added: "We've acquired also, the former Regal cinema at the bottom of Corporation Street, there's development happening around there. I think for the Chapel on the Bridge and investment that may happen around the Minster, I think there's potential.

"Leisure and culture at the moment is very much focused on eating and drinking but I think leisure and culture is broader than that and I think Chapel on the Bridge has an important role and I would hope, and I would expect, that through the next phase of proposals that we would want to bring forward for the town centre, that the setting for the Chapel on the Bridge, or how we might integrate that more effectively into the town centre, would be part of that."

Images: Google Maps / Christie & Co.


Anonymous,  December 19, 2022 at 12:30 PM  

Oh oh,what hair brain idea have they in mind now, probably another wasted opportunity and site !

Anonymous,  December 19, 2022 at 1:04 PM  

Need to finish other projects before starting others

Believe in Rotherham. December 19, 2022 at 1:50 PM  

Amazing idea. Lets all support the council in bringing this forward. The regeneration is on the front foot, lets get this done.

Anonymous,  December 19, 2022 at 5:39 PM  

Why carnt the old cinema be the theatre ? It already has seats a stage and a bar.

Mark December 19, 2022 at 7:45 PM  

I agree with demolishing the old Wilko, it’s fairly ugly building.
Why not refurbish the old cinema next door as a theatre. Or get the Civic to move there.
I also don’t understand why they don’t use one of the large empty shop units such as Argos as the new library rather then having a purpose built unit.

Anonymous,  December 19, 2022 at 8:35 PM  

It would make a fine unfinished pocket park!

Anonymous,  December 19, 2022 at 9:36 PM  

Think a far far bigger building than the empty Argos is required as the main library,look at floor space if current library as a guide!

Mark December 19, 2022 at 10:39 PM  

Remember back when Argos used to be GT News on two floors, it was massive.

Anonymous,  December 20, 2022 at 11:04 AM  

Agree with the comments above. Surely common sense would suggest it must be easier to remodel the old cinema than to demolish at start again. But then this is RMBC, without doubt one of the most useless and crooked local authorities to ever have existed.

Anonymous,  December 20, 2022 at 12:11 PM  

As the article states, the plans are for the demolition of 4 Corporation Street (wilkos), not the bingo hall. Mecca is now a listed building anyway.

Anonymous,  December 20, 2022 at 12:16 PM  

That’s right, but they are saying they will demolish Wilko to build a theatre. Why not just demolish Wilko and refurbish the Mecca Bingo as a theatre. I’m sure the Mecca building could make a fine theatre.

Anonymous,  December 20, 2022 at 1:09 PM  

Wonder when RMBC will learn to stop playing monopoly with public funds? The buildings on the opposite side of Corporation St are a disgrace. The owner has been running rings around the clowncil for year.

Anonymous,  December 20, 2022 at 2:44 PM  

Shame all these plans and projects weren't progressed with 10 years ago ..we wouldn't be years and years behind likes of Doncaster and Barnsley for facilities and attractions then.Rotherham is a joke of town, embarrassing!

Anonymous,  December 20, 2022 at 4:31 PM  

Forgive me if this has been stated previously, but does anybody know whether the intention is to build a new theatre IN ADDITION to the civic, or one to REPLACE it?

Anonymous,  December 21, 2022 at 1:49 AM  

I think I read somewhere,it's to replace civic with a more modern bigger capacity venue.

Anonymous,  December 21, 2022 at 1:58 AM  

What's this cobblers about the chapel on the bridge?That's beem there centuries,everyone knows about it,they don't need to waste money around it,it's going nowhere,get bars and restaurants builds,a larger theatre to get on tours circuit,get that music venue built what was planned for the guest and chrimes site...and a small casino wouldn't go a miss,get fed up ,of having to go up Sheffield for a little flutter!

Anonymous,  December 21, 2022 at 8:51 AM  

Have a look at the draft plans at the bottom of the Rothbiz article about the NatWest bank. Looks like the bingo hall extended on to the Wilko site...

Anonymous,  January 14, 2023 at 1:26 AM  

It'll be a very sad day for the town when/if the Civic Theatre closes.

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