Cinema complex at Rotherham’s Forge Island due to open early 2022
A timescale for Rotherham’s Forge Island redevelopment has been set out by developers, with a planning application for the flagship entertainment zone expected to be submitted before the end of the year.
Work may then start next year on the scheme, which will include a multi-screen cinema, new hotel and restaurants, with around 150 new apartments to come later.
It had been anticipated work on the cinema and hotel would start in parallel, but Dan Needham of Muse, the company working in partnership with Rotherham Council on the project, said it was now expected the cinema development would start first.
Because the new complex will include 350 parking spaces, temporary arrangements will have to be put in place on the site of the old Magistrates court, which will eventually be taken over for the residential phase after the commercial buildings are complete.
That could be four or five years away.
Mr Needham was speaking at a meeting of the Rotherham Together Partnership, where members of the public and private sector bodies involved in driving the town’s prosperity forwards met for an update.
Since Muse was announced as the council’s partner last year, behind the scenes legal work has been completed but physical development on site cannot begin until flood defence work has been completed, a Rotherham Council project which Muse has also been involved in.
The Forge Island businesses will be built on a podium, lifting them away from potential flood waters, in a design which means those approaching from the ‘Tesco’ footbridge will effectively see the site rise slightly rather than fall away as it does at present.
Parking areas will remain at the natural ground level, with the design intended to allow them to flood should extreme weather strike.
Mr Needham said Muse were still in talks with several cinema operators, but appeared to rule out big-name companies as the preferred options.
Instead, it is likely the complex will include somewhere between eight and 11 screens, with an operating model designed to ensure it gets widespread use from the Rotherham community. If plans run to time, that could be open by early 2022.
Mr Needham said Rotherham’s record in attracting companies including McLaren and Boeing helped to give prospective clients confidence in the town as a base to invest.
“It really is helping us to get these people to put Rotherham at the top of their plans,” he said.
Legal documents were now due to be signed which would lead to the announcement of “a really exciting partnership”, he said.