Alcan Smleter site
Jamie Hardesty

How this former Northumberland industrial stronghold could soon become a high value job hive

Northumberland County Council has officially approved plans for a new employment scheme to go ahead at the former Rio Tinto (Alcan) Smelter site, near Ashington.

Site owner Harworth Group, which acquired the land now known as Lynefield Park from Rio Tinto in April 2015, says the approval paves the way for several hundred jobs to return to the once buoyant manufacturing northern hotspot.

The business is aiming to create a modern scheme, which not only makes up for lost jobs following the smelter ceasing to operate in 2012, but stands as a beacon for high value jobs in the North East.

After spending the past two and a half years undertaking site safety and security works, including demolishing redundant industrial structures, masterplanning the site for future employment uses and securing new tenants (including Lynx Precast and H-Mix) Harworth chief Eddie Peat says he is delighted to be able to transform the former industrial stronghold into a modern commercial space.

Mr. Peat, Director for North East & Corporate Development at Harworth Group, said: “We’re delighted to have received the support of Northumberland County Council for our scheme that will make a major contribution to the North East’s economy.

“We remain fully committed to creating a first-class commercial centre that can provide up to 650 new jobs in accordance with local planning policy and we will now promote the site’s significant assets, including its railhead, to potential occupiers.”

Public consultation on the plans with residents took place earlier this year and following the consideration of feedback, an outline planning application was submitted at the end of June.

Planning and design consultancy Barton Willmore supported Harworth in developing the plans. Claire Kent, director at Barton Willmore, said: “This is a major step towards regenerating one of Northumberland’s most significant former industrial sites.

“Harworth’s exciting plans will bring much-needed new high value jobs to the area, and create long term sustainability.”

Editor’s analysis

I’ve followed developments at Lynefield Park for some time now. The Council approval matched with physical advancements at the site is a real win for the Northumberland business community.

Harworth will now focus its efforts in preparing the land for redevelopment and promoting the site to key international and national businesses.

When the Alcan smelter closed five years ago the Ashington community was, to put it simply, hit very hard indeed.

Regenerating the site, as expected, has taken a great deal of time and effort but with developers, the council and community seemingly pulling together, Lynefield Park can act as a real beacon for the area.

Moreover, if Harworth can attract some real inward investment here we may soon have another high profile employment hotspot to be proud of in the North East.

What do you think? How valuable will the new and improved Lynefield Park site be to the North East economy? Why not share your thoughts int he comments section below?

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