Ex-mine plans may be shelved

Traffic fears threaten scheme for business use

Julie Hemmings

PLANS to turn a former North Yorkshire mine into a business park or distribution centre may be shelved because of fears about the amount of traffic the site could generate.

UK Coal says business use of the former Riccall mine – part of the Selby complex where mining ceased a year ago – could create 200 jobs.

However, Selby Council is set to throw out the proposals at a special planning committee meeting on Wednesday.

The district council already has rejected similar plans to redevelop Wistow colliery, another mine in the former Selby mine complex, following opposition from villagers and Wistow parish council.

UK Coal would control the redeveloped Riccall site and let it, to a single or multiple users. Some land would be set aside for community recreation space.

Riccall parish council says it supports "sympathetic redevelopment", while Kelfield parish council has raised no objection, as long as jobs created benefit local people and heavy traffic is routed via the southern junction on the A19.

Initial planning consent granted for the mines stipulated the land had to be returned to agricultural use once coal extraction finished but UK Coal says business parks could create hundreds of jobs at each of the six former mines – two other former pits, Whitemoor and North Selby, already have been transformed into business centres.

York and Selby district branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) said restoring the site to agricultural use would lead to the loss of current wildlife habitats and, because of the need for business premises and the site's proximity to the A19, it would not contest the proposals.

Although the site is in a "more sustainable location" compared to other mines in the Selby complex, such as Wistow and Stillingfleet, planning officer Tim Poupard said there was "a fundamental concern" about Riccall mine's location.

Mr Poupard said it was difficult to see how current objections to the site's redevelopment could be overcome.

"In terms of the principle of the re-use of the site I would conclude that the location gives a clear conflict with regional and local policies to the extent that I would recommend that this application is refused," said the planning officer in a report to councillors ahead of Wednesday's meeting.

His reasons for recommending refusal include an increase in car use the development would cause.

Also going before Wednesday's meeting are plans to retain buildings at the Gascoigne Wood mine for similar commercial use.

That site has railway sidings, leading Sherburn-in-Elmet parish council to support the plans but North Yorkshire Council is asking members of the district council to reject the scheme as piecemeal development could put the future of the rail link at risk.

Mr Poupard is recommending councillors also refuse consent for the Gascoigne Wood proposals, on the same grounds as

for Riccall, that the site's

proposed use would lead to more car journeys, which is contrary to regional and national policy.