A CINEMA and 80-bed hotel could open on Forge Island within two years as part of a £150 million masterplan to revive Rotherham town centre.
Part of Guest and Chrimes will be saved and converted into a sports and leisure complex, which Rotherham United hope will attract 440,000 visitors a year.
The markets area would be opened up to Drummond Street by knocking down the parade of mostly-empty retail units.
An artist's impression of Guest and Chrimes.
Some 400 new town centre homes will be built, while Effingham Square and Doncaster Gate will be given facelifts.
Rotherham Council’s Cabinet member for jobs and the local economy Cllr Denise Lelliott said the town centre had the potential to provide something unique to visitors and residents in South Yorkshire.
She said: “The masterplan contains a series of proposals and plans, which brings to life how the town is moving forwards, utilising its river and canal, its open spaces and its feature buildings.
“At the heart of the plan is to create a much-improved visitor experience with more to do and to see.”
An artist's impression of how Forge Island would look
The council paid £130,000 for consultants WYG Group to draw up the masterplan. The brief was to come up with ambitious but realistic schemes.
Some of the bigger projects, such as the hotel and four or five-screen cinema on Forge Island, will be dependent on attracting private developers.
The masterplan will be used as a marketing tool to entice potential partners by demonstrating what might be achievable and successful.
Other, smaller aspects of the plan could be paid for through the council’s own capital fund of £17 million allocated for the town centre for 2017 to 2022.
Around £15 million remains in this pot following the purchase of Forge Island and Riverside Precinct units.
Damien Wilson, the council’s regeneration director, said the owning so much of the land was providing a boost when talking to potential investors.
He added: “We’ve never had interest like this and things are getting really exciting. Before, we had zero base, zero interest, key sites weren't in council ownership and there were potential complications with the likes of flooding and contamination.
“Suddenly, things are beginning to fall into place. As a council we’ve been pro-active in seeking out opportunities and courting business investors.
“Our role will be enabler, looking if there is funding to be drawn down from Sheffield City Region or wherever, helping as planning authority and in other ways, like the possible compulsory purchase on Corporation Street.”
See this week's Advertiser for an in-depth look at the plans and exclusive interviews.