Go-ahead sought for new plan to develop former pit

The pit head as deep coal mining comes to an end in the UK at Kellingley Colliery.   18 December 2015.  Picture Bruce Rollinson
The pit head as deep coal mining comes to an end in the UK at Kellingley Colliery. 18 December 2015. Picture Bruce Rollinson

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.

Kellingley Colliery where contractors from Hydroblast, Northallerton, have been the last in the pit shafts preparing the way for UK Coal to cap the shafts with concrete sealing the mine forever.  29 February 2016.  Picture Bruce Rollinson

Kellingley Colliery where contractors from Hydroblast, Northallerton, have been the last in the pit shafts preparing the way for UK Coal to cap the shafts with concrete sealing the mine forever. 29 February 2016. Picture Bruce Rollinson

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 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.”

Coun Crane, who leads Selby District Council, 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,” he 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 re-use of the site.”

Harworth took over ownership of the 64-hectare site in March and revealed their plans for a business park at public consultation events in September.