Theme park operator Gulliver’s has unveiled plans for a £37m family theme park in South Yorkshire which could create hundreds of jobs; and they have been recommended for conditional approval.
Gulliver’s Valley Resort would be a year-round theme park experience, aimed at two- to 13-year-olds and featuring rides, attractions, soft play and indoor fun, alongside a variety of accommodation options.
The proposed resort is earmarked for the former Pithouse West opencast colliery site near Rotherham, once destined for the Yes! Project and later Visions of China. Up to 215,000 sq ft of buildings could be constructed on the near-240-acre plot of land.
In a report to be scrutinised by Rotherham Council next week, the proposed development is recommended for approval despite constituting "inappropriate development within the green belt".
Very special circumstances are considered to exist due to the "economic benefits of the development in terms of increased local employment opportunities and the increase in numbers of tourists and visitors to Rotherham".
The presence of retail, leisure and hotels within the out-of-town proposal is not expected to have an adverse impact on any nearby centres, while the development's visual, noise and ecological impact were also held to be acceptable.
Communities secretary Sajid Javid will have the final say on the scheme as the project is based on green belt land, while a section 106 agreement is also needed.
Designed, built and managed by Gulliver's, the central theme park, would incorporate areas arranged around a main "fairy-tale castle".
The theme park is categorised in five ride areas providing more than 40 rides and attractions, many of which are at the three existing Gulliver's parks including a wooden roller coaster, log flume, rapid rides and pirate ship.
As well as the Gulliver's Valley Theme Park and Gulliver's Adventure Park attractions, there would also be a number of hub features, including Splash, Nerf, and Adventure zones as well as Gully Town Tots and Main Street.
The Lilliput Castle Hotel is the centrepiece of the park providing a family venue of up to 100 bedrooms as well as forming the main catering hub.
The remaining area of the site would be developed to provide complementary facilities to the main theme park uses, including two further family hotels, 12 holiday lodges, camping, a spa and fitness facilities and an ecology centre.
A total of 1,728 car parking spaces are provided.
Phased construction is expected to extend over a 12- to 15-year period, starting in 2017, if the recommendation to approve is followed.
Gulliver's World is a second generation family business, which began as a model village in the Peak District and now operates parks in Matlock Bath, Warrington and Milton Keynes.