PLANS for a £100 million Chinese theme park on a former opencast pit site have been given the thumbs up by expats from the country living in South Yorkshire.
Members of Sheffield Chinese Association believe people who have moved from the Far East to the area, including several thousand students, would be tempted to visit.
Visions of China is set to be created at the former Pit House West site, off the A57 near Aston. The plans include rollercoaster rides, a giant pagoda, retail street, temple, theatre, children’s fantasy land, hotel, restaurants, gardens and a spa.
Rotherham Council has agreed a long lease with a consortium involving former Alton Towers chief Peter Moore and Mid City Developments, which has just revamped Edgbaston cricket ground, in Birmingham.
The group is working with Chinese investors to create the attraction, which they believe could attract up to 1.5 million visitors per year.
Some 380 permanent jobs would be created, plus 200 during the construction process.
Sarah Chan, vice chair of Sheffield Chinese Association, said: “It’s a good idea and I think there will be a big demand from the Chinese community.
“Chinese people in Sheffield will want to go along, I’m sure.”
Mrs Chan predicted that the development would attract more Chinese people to the area and could lead to progress on long-term plans to develop a Chinatown area within Sheffield city centre.
The plans have also been welcomed by Sheffield South East Labour MP Clive Betts, whose constituency borders the site of the proposed park.
He said: “It will be good for the area - Sheffield and Rotherham are pretty much a single job market and anything creating such a large amount of employment has to be very good news.”
He also welcomed the fact that, unlike failed tourist attractions such as the Earth Centre at Denaby, and the National Centre for Popular Music in Sheffield, the scheme is being bankrolled privately.
Visions of China is to be built over 120 acres and the site already has outline planning permission as it was due to have been the site of the £350 million Yes! leisure park.