Business supremos have decided to bid for potentially millions of pounds of Enterprise Zone funding to help transform and redevelop the derelict former Coalite works site at Shuttlewood.
The toxic former chemical works site, off Buttermilk Lane, has laid derelict for eleven years and has been dubbed an eyesore and health hazard by residents who have complained about odours and arsonists misusing the land.
But Bolsover District Council has now granted outline planning permission to Bolsover Land Limited to re-develop the 31 hectares and the Local Enterprise Partnership D2N2 - a regional business support group - announced this month that it is bidding for Enterprise Zone status for the former Coalite site.
D2N2 has submitted bids to the Government to secure Enterprise Zones for Coalite as well as sites in South Derbyshire and at the Robin Hood Enterprise Zone.
David Ralph, D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership Chief Executive, said: “Enterprise Zones are a powerful tool to instigate and accelerate economic activity, as demonstrated by the continuing progress of our existing Nottingham and Derby Enterprise Zone.
“The level of economic growth in our rural areas across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire is on an upward trajectory and these sites directly support our core objective of creating 55,000 private sector jobs by 2023.
“We hope that the Government will support our bid and our continued focus to deliver sustainable jobs across the whole D2N2 area.”
A similar successful £14.2m Enterprise Zone grant, courtesy of the Sheffield City Region LEP, was announced in June, 2014, for the Markham Vale commercial estate which provided financial support and tax breaks for companies looking to set up at the site.
Enterprise Zone funding aims to generate private sector investment, creates hundreds of jobs, offers business rate relief, supports access road systems and secures regional commerce with financial benefits for ambitious and growing companies.
Bolsover District Council has now helped pave the way for the former Coalite site with outline planning permission for applicants Bolsover Land Limited who aim to clean up the site and re-use the brownfield land for industrial, warehousing and associated purposes which should create employment opportunities.
Bolsover Land Ltd hopes to use the land for general industrial purposes and warehousing, with plans for an energy centre, a transport hub, open storage and a museum or visitor centre.
It is also likely to include a range of units for smaller start-up businesses and incubator type units for large manufacturing and distribution facilities.
As part of the conditions, before any development can begin the council is insisting upon a comprehensive remediation program and an updated ground gas risk assessment.
Bolsover Land Ltd acquired the site in 2013 and had originally planned to introduce industrial and storage facilities, business units and 800 homes with retail facilities and a waste to energy plant before its latest application was granted outline approval.
Bolsover District Council’s Deputy Leader Councillor Mary Dooley said: “We welcome the D2N2 Board’s submission and await the outcome. If successful in gaining Enterprise Zone status it will bring enormous benefits for the local economy, as well as the wider north east Derbyshire region, creating thousands of new jobs, complementing the nearby Markham Vale site and helping to contribute to the region’s economy by helping to drive private sector growth.”
The Bolsover region is still regarded as one of the most deprived areas in the country following the demise of the coal industry and a redeveloped Coalite site is being viewed by many as a chance to boost ongoing regeneration plans.
Residents and community groups have so far welcomed the potential clean-up, redevelopment and Enterprise Zone plans.
Gordon Liddle, of nearby Bolsover Woodhouse, said: “A development and jobs are needed. I am glad to hear the site is possibly being developed for industrial and business uses.
“There are enough housing sites offered by the council near enough to this site so people can walk to work. The thing this area needs more than anything is jobs.
“We are short of houses, but more importantly we are short of people able to afford a house so they need to get a job first.
“This site is perfectly located for industry and commerce near the M1 motorway and developing it with Enterprise Zone support will be ideal.”
The Coalite site, which once produced smokeless fuels, was first opened in April, 1937, and at that time it was considered to be the largest works site of its type in the world.
Bolsover Civic Society chairman Bernard Haigh said: “The decontamination is the important thing on this site. When it rains there is still a sulphurous smell from the soil at Coalite. So anything to decontaminate the site and bring in employment opportunities has to be good.
“It would also be good to see an element of landscaping and the road system will have to be considered because it is currently not very good around there.
“The prospect of a museum and visitor centre is very good idea because Coalite once employed a large number of people from the area and a centre may help to record that part of the town’s history.
“Largely, we welcome anything that will provide jobs but we have to ensure it is local people who are employed.”
Old Bolsover Town Council has also welcomed the prospect of reviving the Coalite site and bringing in jobs.
Town council clerk Andrew Timmins said: “The council welcomes news that something may be done with the site and that it could be developed with Enterprise Zone support
“You can still smell the contaminants when you walk past the site and there are still derelict buildings there and it will be nice to see something being done that will create employment in the area too.
“Hopefully, it will build on the success of Markham Vale’s Enterprise Zone and commercial estate and the Coalite is equally well located with the M1 motorway nearby.”
D2N2 works to drive economic growth
D2N2 is the Local Enterprise Partnership for Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.
Its purpose is to support and encourage economic growth in the D2N2 region.
The group states that its highest priority is to build a powerful entity that can maximise the benefit for businesses in both counties, and develop a dynamic economy.
The LEP’s initial priorities are:
Build on the area’s reputation for internationally competitive science, manufacturing, engineering and creative industries, driving better productivity and growth as we develop a low carbon economy
Develop the area’s distinctive cultural, sport and tourism offer to world-class standards
Share the benefits of the area’s economic growth across its cities, towns and rural communities
Meet employers’ current and future skills demands through the area’s highly-rated and ambitious education partners
Secure investment in regeneration and infrastructure projects that stimulate private sector growth.