Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Doncaster Earth Centre site for sale

Children visit the Earth Centre
Image caption The Earth Centre went bankrupt in 2004 after failing to attract enough visitors

The failed Earth Centre environmental visitor attraction near Doncaster has been put up for sale.

The centre opened in 1999 on the site of a former colliery at Denaby at a cost of £55m, but was closed in 2004 after failing to attract enough people.

In February this year, Doncaster council revealed it was spending £200,000 a year to maintain the site.

The council is now inviting informal tenders for the land after being unable to find a viable alternative use.

When the yearly maintenance bill of £200,000 was revealed, Mayor Peter Davies described the Earth Centre as "one of the largest disasters in the country".

Devised as an environmental attraction, the Earth Centre was the first of the country's flagship Millennium projects to open.

But it failed to attract enough visitors and closed its doors in September 2004.

When the centre went bankrupt most of the land passed back to Doncaster Council, with some reverting to the Millennium Commission.

The plan to sell the land has met with opposition from some in the local community.

'Unfair to community'

Kiera Stallard, from the We Love The Earth Centre campaign group, said: "I feel it's a bit of a disgrace. To be honest I think what's gone on with the Earth Centre is unfair to the community.

"It could be used just as it is now with all the wild nature and rare species in there.

"It should be looked at as a valuable piece of land and resource for education for the people."

Peter Dale, the council's director of development, said: "We are selling this land to alleviate the council of a significant cost liability.

"We have taken an exhaustive look at possible ways we could use the site but ultimately none of these options were viable long term without being subsidised by the public purse."

For sale signs went up at the 20-hectare (50-acre) site on Tuesday and the closing date for expressions of interest is 17 December.

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