Wednesday, January 4, 2023

News: Rother Valley masterplan includes zip slides, toboggan runs and new play areas


Plans have been submitted for the first phase of a regeneration project at Rother Valley Country Park, where the idea is to create a new "Village Centre" with new waterfront buildings, a cycle hub and improved car parking.

Exciting new activities have been included in further phases of a masterplan for the well-used site in Rotherham - from hosting bigger events to zip slides and toboggan runs.

Rothbiz reported in 2021 that two of the three bids from Rotherham were successful in securing money from the Government's Levelling Up Fund. £19.9m was awarded for a number of connected projects which aim to build a new leisure industry that responds to the challenges of economic recovery and health and well-being.

Following on from plans for a revamp at Thrybergh Country Park, a planning application has now been submitted for a scheme at Rother Valley.

Operated by Rotherham Council, the park opened in 1983 following the restoration of an opencast mining site.

The plans have been drawn up by AHR Architects and ELG Planning Consultants and include the erection of a waterfront café building with function space to the first floor, the relocation of existing car parking to create a multi-use public open space, the creation of a new play area, the demolition of existing Rangers' bungalow and relocation of Rangers' compound and cycle hub, along with landscaping improvements and other associated infrastructure.

Replacing land currently used to store boats, the new café is designed to expand and enhance the offering at the park, with the view to encourage more visitors, or those already visiting to stay longer. The changes will also start to develop new car parking away from the lake.

Boat storage would move to south of the activity centre where the "beach" will also be extended. South of the existing courtyard, the bungalow is shown to be demolished in order to relocate the Cycle Hub and associated storage to this area.

The new café will have a seating capacity of 134 offering beautiful views over the lake. The seating area is also dual aspect - the café space looks over the new play area to the rear, creating a safer place for parents to watch while their children play.

The plans state: "The centre of the site then becomes the beating heart, from which each activity on the site can be easily accessed. The proposed lakeside café will provide 180 degree views across the water, with dual aspect elevation allowing each facade to be equally activated. The circular route around the reservoir will not be disrupted through the construction of a new building, but the associated lanscaping will enhance this route, creating new space which emphasises the natural beauty of the country park setting."

The much smaller existing café in the courtyard is set to remain but will focus on "grab and go" takeaway options.

Consultants Oobe, have also looked at further phases at the park, creating a masterplan focused on car parking and enhancing activities.

More car parking spaces in phase 2 would increase parking capacity, enhancing the park’s ability to deliver bigger events and for the Southern lawn to become permanently car-free. The nature reserve would be restored and re-imagined and new and improved play facilities throughout the park would bring a renewed focus on delivery of activity-based education.

Phase 3 would include a new footbridge to car parking created in an area known as "Battlefield" which would "help to create an exciting sense of arrival for the park." Cycle routes and pedestrian routes around the park would also be improved.

Phase 3 also creates the opportunity to introduce "new commercial activities such as mini-golf, as well as the exciting prospect of a water taxi on the main lake to take people between activities and tie the broad variety of activities together."

The fourth and final phase would explore the potential for future commercial activity on site. Plans state: "There is the potential to add exciting attractions such as toboggan runs, zip slides and tree-top walks to create an attraction. These attractions will compliment Gulliver’s Valley, Waleswood campsite and the redevelopment of the Chesterfield canal link to make Rother Valley a significant visitor attraction within the local economy, enticing users of all ages and abilities from all over."

When the Levelling Up bid was submitted, the project cost for Rother Valley was £5.5m and, whilst the funding covers phase 1 and is secured, the costs and sources of funding for the later phases currently remain unknown.

Rother Valley Country Park website

Images: AHR / Oobe


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