Plan for traveller site near Rother Valley theme park rejected

The site at Pit House West which could potentially be turned in to a theme park
Picture Dean Atkins
The site at Pit House West which could potentially be turned in to a theme park Picture Dean Atkins
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Plans for a travellers’ site opposite a new £37m theme park by Rother Valley have been rejected following an ‘overwhelming’ number of complaints.

Rotherham Council planning officers have refused the application to create a traveller site with 12 pitches adjacent to the proposed Gulliver’s Valley resort on the Pit House West site to the north of Rother Valley Country Park.

A decision notice by the council said it considered the application to be ‘inappropriate development that would have an adverse impact on the Green Belt in this location’.

It added: “The applicant has failed to demonstrate any very special circumstances to justify this inappropriate development and the harm caused to the openness of the Green Belt, and any other harm.

“The application site is considered to be in an unsustainable location, being located a significant distance from day to day facilities such that future occupiers would be reliant on travel by car.”

The ruling follows an ‘overwhelming number’ of comments from members of the public being submitted to Rotherham Council, as well as a complaint from Aston-cum-Aughton Parish Council, which objected ‘in the strongest possible way’ to the plans.

The application, made by William Smith of Leicestershire, had claimed the site was ‘ideally located’ and the area needed a travellers’ site.

The council ruling said: “The applicant did not enter into any pre-application discussions with the local planning authority.

“Discussions during the determination of the application have identified that it is not possible to support a scheme of this nature nor would any amendments make it acceptable.”

The applicant now has a right to appeal against the decision within the next six months.

Rotherham Council has previously agreed to sell the former Pit House West opencast colliery site to Gulliver’s Family Theme Parks, who currently run parks at Matlock Bath, Warrington and Milton Keynes.

If given the go-ahead, the new theme park resort is expected to create the equivalent of more than 250 full-time jobs and will be called ‘Gulliver’s Valley’.

The resort will be aimed at two to 13-year-olds offering rides, attractions, soft play and indoor fun, centred on themed areas around a main fairytale castle.

It follows previous failed attempts to develop the greenbelt site.

In 2011, leisure organisation China Vision were confirmed as preferred developers for the site to create a Chinese-themed attraction but last year a new partner was sought by the council following a lack of progress with that plan.

A previous proposal for it to be the home of a 5,000-seater arena for the Sheffield Steelers ice hockey team was scrapped.