Plans to build a new £37m theme park by Rother Valley have been downsized due to potentially-contaminated land.
Gulliver’s want to build the resort at the Pithouse West site by Rother Valley Country Park, with Rotherham Council bosses due to approve the sale of the land to the company next week.
But a report going to commissioners and cabinet members has revealed that the original 330-acre site earmarked for development has been reduced to 250 acres.
The report said examinations of the site, which was previously an opencast colliery, had identified ‘potential ground contamination’ – resulting in Gulliver’s submitting a revised proposal to buy a reduced area of the site.
It added: “This excluded area will now be retained by the council. The revised development proposal has not yet been out to consultation but it will still provide essentially the same scheme as previously consulted on albeit over a different development area.”
The report said: “The remainder of the site, approximately 80 acres, that will be retained by the council also contains potential land contamination. Records suggest that contaminants from the former activity on the site may have been buried in a containment cell on this part of the site.”
Julie Dalton, managing director of Gulliver’s, said: “We’re still very much committed to this development and are continuing to work with Rotherham Council on a revised proposal.
“Further to intensive environmental impact surveys carried out over the past 18 months and public consultation events last October, we have made some revisions to our original plans. We’re looking forward to revealing these plans to local residents and businesses through another public consultation exercise early this summer.”
It is hoped the new theme park will create up to 255 permanent jobs once it opens.
The new theme park is to be called ‘Gulliver’s Valley’ and 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.
Other phases in the future include a woodland adventure centre, an education and ecology centre, a 100-bedroom hotel and 300 woodland lodges and ‘glamping’.
Details of how much Gulliver’s will pay to buy the land are being kept private, but the report said the sale will generate ‘significant capital’ for the council.
The theme park plan 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. Before that, a proposal for a 5,000-seater arena for the Sheffield Steelers ice hockey team was scrapped.