Riverside development will "transform" Castleford

Artist's impression of Castleford riverside development.
Artist's impression of Castleford riverside development.

The transformation of Castleford's old chemical works into a new housing and leisure complex "will bring a different dimension" to the town, it's been claimed.

Developers were given planning permission to build up to 1,400 homes, restaurants, cafes and a care home on the redundant site on Thursday. The closed Nestlé factory will also be converted.

Supporters of the scheme believe that the works, expected to be completed in 2027, will rid Castleford of what's been described as a "blight" on its landscape and draw more people into the town centre.

Alison Drake, chair of the Castleford Heritage Trust said that the decision was "fantastic" and had been a "long time coming".

She said: "Because of all the problems with the site being polluted it's taken a long while to get to this stage.

"The fact that the process is moving on is a tremendous success.

"With the canalside being where it is, and the town centre, it's a site that is very attractive for housing, and we need the homes.

"I hope that some of the leisure facilities won't detract from the town centre or force other businesses out. But if it brings more people into the area then that's great and that's what we need."

Mrs Drake also welcomed plans to put up a memorial to people who died while working at the industrial site.

Dozens of people lost their lives at the Hickson-Welch plant between 1931 and its closure in 2005.

One of the worst disasters came in September 1992, when four men and a woman died in an explosion and subsequent fire.

Mrs Drake said: "I'm very glad that a memorial is being considered because that's important. People need to get behind that.

"Those people weren't just contributing to Castleford, they were contributing to the UK as well.

"It's part of our heritage and they need to be remembered."

Some concerns have been expressed that the work could make any flooding to existing homes on Lock Lane worse. The council's most senior officer in flood risk management has said that the risk will be "minimal", however.

Castleford ward councillor Richard Forster said: "I've looked at this issue closely and we've been reassured that the work that's been done further upstream will slow the flow of water and should prevent any flooding.

"I think the whole plan is fantastic. It's just going to bring a different dimension to living in Castleford.

"I think the area has been a blight on the town and it's a credit to both councillors and council officers who've worked with developers to make this happen.

"The cafes and the coffee shops will give people the chance to get out and about and meet others and that's what builds communities.

"I can't see anything negative about it at all."