Developers have claimed hundreds of jobs will be created to help bring prosperity back to hard-hit former mining communities after plans were submitted to transform a Yorkshire colliery into a business park.
Kellingley Colliery shut in December last year but the site’s new owners are now seeking outline planning permission to create up to 95,000 sq metres of employment space.
The proposed development could offer fresh opportunities for communities that have suffered in the months since the mine’s closure almost a year ago, with local council leader Mark Crane hailing the outline plans as “hugely good news”.
Leeds-based planning and design consultancy Barton Willmore has drawn up the initial blueprints on behalf of regeneration company Harworth Group plc and the planning application was submitted to Selby District Council on Friday.
A decision is expected to be reached by the council in the first quarter of the new year.
Claire Kent, planning director for Barton Willmore in Leeds, which is providing planning and landscape planning services to Harworth Group as it develops the proposed scheme, said: “Given its existing infrastructure and highly sustainable location, this is an exciting and significant opportunity to redevelop the site that will replace employment lost when the mine closed late last year and aligns with Selby’s economic growth ambitions.”
Iain Thomson, Harworth group partnerships and communications manager, said job creation was at the heart of what the company was trying to achieve.
“We are highly experienced in regenerating former industrial sites and over the last year we have worked closely with Selby District Council and other key stakeholders to move plans forward,” Mr Thomson said.
“Our overriding priority is to bring good-quality jobs back to the area.”
Selby District Council leader, Councillor Crane, believes improved access to the site must be considered as part of the local authority’s scrutiny of the plans, but he otherwise described the proposal as “very positive”.
“At the present time any extra jobs are to be welcomed and I think it’s good that there is an early application with the colliery having closed fairly recently,” Coun Crane said.
“I’m realistic though and realise access to and from the site has always been something of an issue and is something we would be right to consider and see if improvements can be made.
“Realistically at the moment it’s the best use of the site.
“Clearly it’s a difficult time when so many reasonably well paid jobs have gone so most of the community would be delighted to see a reuse of the site.”
Harworth took over the ownership of the 64-hectare site in March and revealed their plans for a business park at public consultation events in September.
PLANS BOOST EMPLOYMENT HOPES
Kellingley Colliery was Britain’s last deep coal mine and its closure on December 18 last year brought about by the nation’s switch to other methods of energy generation, ended 300 years of UK deep mining.
The decision to axe the colliery, in the village of Kellingley and east of Knottingley, left 700 people out of work, including many who worked at the site from communities in and around Wakefield.
The area’s employment prospects have suffered something of a doublewhammy in recent times following the closure of Ferrybridge C power station, which employed around 170 people.