FURTHER doubt has been cast over the future of Rotherham’s High Street with one of the largest town centre buildings put up for sale.
The unit, currently occupied by applicance supplier Eastwood Domestics and music store That’s Entertainment, will be auctioned off in London on Thursday with a guide price of £150,000 to £200,000.
It comes just two weeks after discount clothes retailer Primark announced it was closing its High Street store in favour of a larger unit at Parkgate Shopping.
Andrew Denniff, chief executive of Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce, said Rotherham was “lagging behind” Barnsley in terms of development.
Work on a £100 million revamp around Barnsley’s market and town centre is underway and will see existing buildings demolished and replaced with retail, leisure and market space, including areas for food and drink, library and market square.
Mr Denniff said Rotherham’s proposals were still only being spoken about rather than being acted on.
He said: “What I have seen in Barnsley over the last couple of weeks is very encouraging and brings a huge degree of optimism.
“People in Barnsley can actually see what’s happening - buildings are coming down things are happening and there is the whole planned development around the market.”
A listing by auctioneers Acuitus said the Rotherham High Street unit comprises two retail units and a former snooker hall above - previously run as Central Snooker Club.
It said Eastwood Domestics had a tenancy until September 28, while music store That’s Entertainment’s ran out on September 19.
The former British Heart Foundation charity shop - next to Eastwood Domestics - also closed shortly after the charity opened a larger branch in College Street, leaving another empty unit in High Street.
A spokesman for Eastwood Domestics said the business had not made a decision on its High Street store but may do so in the next few weeks.
He added: “Nothing has been set in concrete.”
Rotherham Borough Council is working on plans to revamp Forge Island into a leisure hub but Mr Denniff said while people in Barnsley could see developments for themselves, “in Rotherham we are still talking about it”.
He added: “I know there have been many issues for Rotherham Borough Council to deal with so Rotherham has had a much longer journey to take but we are beginning to come through the other side of that now.
“Forge Island is one of the biggest pieces in the Rotherham town centre jigsaw because it would provide a vibrant evening economy.”